A dissolvable fuel stabilizer and cleaning treatment has been increasingly pushed on unsuspecting car owners as a solution to a wide variety of problems.
Despite warnings from both the American Petroleum Institute and the Society for Automotive Engineers, over three millions car owners have opted for the treatment as a cure for clogged fuel injectors, dirty intake valves, failing catalytic converters, and a myriad of other common ailments. The additive, however, was originally only approved to treat pre-detonation (or “knock”) in cars with over 250,000 miles.
“I was at QuickieLube and they said it was only $49, so I figured I’d try it,” said one man interviewed in the parking lot of an oil change establishment. “My car isn’t getting any younger, so it can’t hurt, can it?”
According to experts, it can hurt – your wallet.
When the late late night infomercial celebrity Billy Mays was offered over a million dollars to pitch the capsule in 2007, he flatly refused, claiming “YOU’D BE AMAZED TO SEE HOW LITTLE CARBON BUILDUP THIS LITTLE PILL ACTUALLY REMOVES!” and send the inventors a close-up photo of his middle finger in response.
When the inventors brought the product to ABC’s TV hit Shark Tank just three years later, even Lori Greiner declined to sell it on QVC. Competing sharks were also unable to arrive at a deal, with only Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary offering the inventors a one-year loan at 80% interest and a 50% royalty on each unit, which they declined.
The pill has also raised larger questions about the management of End-of-Vehicle-Life decisions for many Americans. While over 80% of those polled say they believe a car should be traded in once a single repair exceeds the value of the car, a substantial minority of Car Enthusiasts believe a vehicle should be driven until it physically cannot drive any more, including all possible efforts to keep it running.
“We believe that Car Life begins at the Concept,” says Roy Wort, founder of Pro-Carlife website Tiny Zygote Car. “And we don’t believe a car is dead until all reasonable means have been taken, including engine swaps or even complete frame-off restorations. Some people see a Camaro on cinder blocks as ready for the scrap center. I see it as lawn art.”
This is far from the first time that such polarizing opinions have permeated the car world. When a defunct cardiac stent manufacturer introduced the Tornado Fuel Saver in the 1990s, most critics claimed it did absolutely nothing, while others insisted it gave them precious additional years of quality time with their vehicles.
Ash78 prefers the blue pill (The Matrix one, not the ED one).