Many of the so-called gas-saving products on the market like to talk about increasing the efficiency of the fuel being consumed in the combustion chamber. An engine ionizer falls into this category.
The ionizer has a set of rubber clips that attach to each of the spark plug wires near the cylinder heads. It consists of one rubber clip for each cylinder that supposedly harnesses a "corona charge" which is a charge that gets transferred from the firing cylinder to another cylinder. The claim is that this charge then causes "a partial breakdown in the larger hydrocarbon molecules in all the non-firing cylinders, resulting in increased combustion efficiency."
In addition to better gas mileage, some of these products also claim increased horsepower, reduced emissions, a smoother idle and better starts. When put to the test by Popular Mechanics, the test had to be abandoned due to a fire, which was caused by the product. The ionizing rubber blocks attached to the spark plug wires, began melting onto the manifold and caused flare-ups similar to what you might see when you're cooking a burger over a grill, which is not exactly what you want inside your engine compartment. Not only did it cause a fire, but the test also showed a decrease in horsepower while the ionizer was attached.
One of the Web sites that sells an engine ionizer claims that vehicle owners can save $500 to $1,000 a year using the device. That's a pretty tall order considering that a magazine for mechanics had to stop testing it because their car caught on fire.
But there's still at least one trick up the gas-saving sleeve. Go on to the next page to find out how magnets aren't just for holding pictures on the refrigerator.