Avoid the temptation

Too-amazing-to-believe fuel saving devices are the work of the devil, Robert Weber says. Dreamstime/TNS

Q: I religiously read your Sunday newspaper column right after Dilbert. I keep getting emails about EcoMax, which appears to be a plug-in device promising 15-35% less gas consumption. Is this a viable $49.95 investment?

M.S., Valparaiso, Ind.

A: I am glad that Dilbert shares the column with you. Do you piously read it while in church? Too-amazing-to-believe fuel saving devices are the work of the devil. Avoid the temptation.

Q: In Chicago and probably elsewhere, they are stealing catalytic converters. Is there any low-cost way to put something around them to secure or deter? I leave my Honda outside while on vacation.

L.W., Deerfield Beach, Fla.

A: Although some suggest etching the VIN (vehicle identification number) onto the converter, this is not a good deterrent. Thieves simply sell the cats to unscrupulous repair shops who may even grind off the etching. The best deterrent is a theft-proof cover welded or riveted over the car. A couple hundred dollars could save a towing charge and replacement converter. It can get costly if you don’t have comprehensive insurance coverage. Thieves don’t want to spend extra time getting your cat when lower hanging fruit is nearby.

Q: I had the catalytic converter stolen from my 2019 Toyota Tundra. I’ve been told that due to a severe backup, I probably won’t get mine done for a couple months. There are several aftermarket ones on Amazon and eBay, but my service adviser at the Toyota dealer and a local muffler shop manager have told me that although cheaper, they are not the same quality as original Toyota parts. My insurance will only pay for one or the other. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

B.W., Henderson, Nev.

A: Aftermarket converters that are EPA compliant are fine. Although there are some multi-fit generic converters, get an exact fit unit so that it will function properly with emission control sensors and keep the check engine light off. If you wait for one from Toyota, your rental car insurance coverage will likely run out, adding to your out-of-pocket expenses.

Q: After pumping gas my husband does an elaborate series of gymnastic moves in order to lift the hose higher than the nozzle while I slide down in my seat, pretending I’m not there. Is he the smartest man in the universe by getting every last drop he has paid for or the most uninformed in that the gas purchased is measured at the nozzle rather than at the pump itself?

E.W., Glastonbury, Conn.

A: He may be eligible for membership in Mensa or the Olympic gymnastics team. The gasoline dispenser nozzle is simply a nozzle not unlike the one on your garden hose. The valve inside the fuel dispenser unit is like the hose bibb (sillcock valve) where you turn your water on and off. When you turn off the water and open the nozzle, residual water runs out of the hose. Hold your head up.

Q: My wife has a 2010 Infiniti EX35 with 79,000 miles. It’s been running a little rough lately. We just had it serviced by the dealer and they said that they did a fuel induction service to the car because of a buildup. The car now runs like new. Henceforth, should I be adding some sort of cleaner to the gas tank every so often?

B.J., Orefield, Pa.

A: No amount of additive in the fuel will keep the engine’s throttle body clean. The throttle body is the last step where the air is controlled on its way into the engine. As the throttle body gets dirty the airflow is disrupted causing drivability problems.

Bob Weber is a writer and mechanic who became an ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician in 1976. Weber’s work has appeared in professional trade magazines and various consumer publications including Consumer Guide and Consumers Digest. Send questions along with name and town to motormouth.tribune@gmail.com.

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