Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2007]
Origins: As fuel prices go up, so does interest in various products and additives said to improve gas mileage. One of these is acetone, a widely-available solvent better known to most of us as nail polish remover. According to some, adding a few ounces of this chemical compound to a tank of gasoline will dramatically increase mileage, supposedly by assisting in the vaporization of fuel.
Although various claims have been made about acetone improving gas mileage by 25% or 30%, those avowals never seem to hold up to independent scrutiny: properly controlled experiments designed to measure the ballyhooed improvement fail to recognize any significant change.
Curious motorists working in less controlled settings do at times seem to note an acetone-assisted improvement, yet their results are likely better chalked up to careless measurement or miscalculation, as their findings can't be reproduced in the lab. Confusing matters further is the issue that determining
Were the decision of adding or not adding acetone to one's fuel tank merely a question of whether the practice boosted gasoline performance, that would be one thing, but unfortunately there are other issues to consider, such as the harm that the solvent can work on vehicles. Acetone is corrosive, which means it can eat away at rubber components such as gaskets and
Acetone will also eat the paint off a car. As Tom of Car Talk noted in January 2006:
| Good, Better, Best: How to Improve Gas Mileage |
(Federal Trade Commission)
Allen, Mike. "Drive It Forever." The Boston Globe. 17 September 2006 (p. J10). Brauner, Doug. "'It Will Get Better' Is Automotive Fiction." Sacramento Bee. 27 May 2005 (p. F1). Magliozzi, Tom and Ray. "Car Talk: Acetone in the Tank Is Bogus." Buffalo News. 28 January 2006 (p. C3). Parker, Jim. "Don't Forget Your Veggies, Mama Said." The [Charleston] Post and Courier. 3 September 2005 (p. E1). Scherer, Ron. "Drivers' Dream: Better Gas Mileage." Christian Science Monitor. 25 May 2007 (USA, p. 2).