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By Motoring Reporter

Journalist


Fuel pills: Experts warn dropping pills into tank could reduce performance

As petrol prices continue to soar, South Africans turn towards petrol pills, a trend that should be avoided.


This past week’s record R2.37 a litre fuel price increase has driven many South Africans to extreme levels in order to avoid forking out more at the pumps.

With no price relief on the horizon, some have resorted to ride-sharing services, carpooling and somewhat controversially adding so-called fuel or petrol pills to the tank with the hope that this aids consumption.

Claimed to not only improve efficiency, but also performance, a quick internet search confirms prices from as less as R350 to as much as R2,500 for what has been dubbed “the miracle tablet”.

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According to MasterDrive CEO, Eugene Herbert, the practice, which has become a sensation on social media, should be avoided as it can cause more damage than good.

“The pills contain a substance called naphthalene, which can marginally reduce consumption and emissions in certain circumstances, but which also cause a build-up of carbon deposits that later result in poor performance,” Herbert said in a statement.

“According to the International Organisation for Standardisation, which sets the global standards for fuel, it is recommended this not be added to fuel tanks as it causes deposits to build up on spark plugs after as little as 5,000km, resulting in misfiring engines and bad acceleration.

“In some tests, this ingredient actually increased consumption along with a number of other negative effects. There is little to no benefit and, in fact, will cause greater problems and possibly greater fuel consumption down the line,” Herbert said.

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He also stated, “Numerous tests were conducted on fuel saving devices similar to the ‘fuel pills’ internationally. These tests showed fuel-saving products do not actually save enough fuel for it to even be measurable.

“In South Africa, companies such as Sasol are calling them a scam. The Western Cape government also warned against the use of these pills”.

Sharing Herbert’s concerns, Automobile Association (AA) spokesperson, Layton Beard, told The Citizen the pills are unlikely to have received the go-ahead from the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS), and should, therefore, be avoided.

“People are desperate [to save money] and will do anything. But, unless they have been tested and approved, we cannot recommend them to consumers,” Beard said.

He added that no data is currently on hand to show the pills’ effectiveness, saying it could be a short-term solution should it work, but a risk that must be avoided until a precise determination is made, together with the legality of the product.

Beard said the AA doesn’t approve of the pills as they can cause potential and lasting engine damage should consumers prolong their usage.

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