AG: Avoid Fuel-Related Scams

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Tom Corbett is urging consumers to avoid gasoline or fuel economy scams, identify bargains, report problems and take steps to maximize the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.

“With gas and diesel fuel prices at record highs, it is more important than ever for consumers to shop wisely, conserve whenever possible and report fuel-related problems or scams as soon as they appear,” Corbett said.

Corbett warned consumers to be wary of fuel efficiency scams, disguised as gas-savings devices or fuel additives.

“There is no magic way to instantly boost your vehicle's fuel efficiency, so be careful before you spend money on additives, devices or other products that promise dramatically better gas mileage,” Corbett said. “These gimmicks or gadgets may give you little or no return on your investment, and may also damage your car or void your warranty.”

Corbett added that there are free and easy ways that every driver can increase their mileage, like making sure your tires are properly inflated, changing oil and filters when recommended, avoiding quick starts and stops and not letting your engine idle for long periods of time. According to fuel economy experts, driving sensibly can increase your fuel economy up to 33-percent, depending on the vehicle you drive and the type of driving you do.

Corbett encouraged consumers to comparison shop for gasoline, whose price can vary widely depending on what part of the state you’re in, or where you happen to be traveling. Additionally, consumers should check to see if the station is offering a discount for cash purchases or other price reductions, such as a reward or customer loyalty program.

“A few minutes checking prices or researching discount programs can save you a substantial amount at the pump,” Corbett said.

Additionally, Corbett said that consumers should be watchful during their purchase – verifying that the price they are being charged matches the price that is shown on the service station’s sign, as well as the price displayed on the pump.

“Stations cannot lure consumers in with one price, only to charge a higher price at the pump,” Corbett said. “If a gas station is charging a different price for cash or credit purchases, they need to clearly post those prices so that consumers understand exactly what they’ll be paying before they start pumping gas.”

Finally, Corbett urged consumers to be watchful for sudden performance problems with their vehicles – especially problems that happen immediately after buying fuel.

“Over the past several weeks we have received reports from drivers having potential problems with contaminated gasoline,” Corbett said. “Particles or sediment in fuel may lower your fuel efficiency or cause other engine problems, like stalling or failure to start.”

Corbett said that although problems related to contaminated fuel are still relatively rare, it is important for consumers to have a dealership or repair shop immediately investigate any fuel-related problem, thoroughly document the situation and save samples for possible testing.

Corbett noted that additional information about fuel economy, including fuel mileage information for various new and used vehicles along with tips for improving fuel mileage are available at: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/. (This website is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Information about the testing of various “fuel saving” devices is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/oms/consumer/reports.htm) and the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut10.shtm).

Corbett said that consumers with questions or concerns about gas pricing, gasoline-related scams or other consumer issues can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555, or visit the Attorney General’s website to submit an online consumer complaint, at www.attorneygeneral.gov.(Highlight the “Complaints” button on the front page of the website and select “Consumer Complaints” from the drop-down menu).

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