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Matthew Wright

Can a Chip Help My Gas Mileage?

By November 16, 2008

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Gas mileage is at the top of the concerns list these days. Here's a recent letter that asked a question I've hear a lot.
Hi there, I need to know how I can improve fuel economy on a 1997 Chevrolet Astro van AWD. I already have an K&N filter, but it doesn't help much. Is there any chip that can do magic? What could I do?
Thank you, Sabin Mihu
Sabin, there are scores of gadgets out there that claim to improve your gas mileage, some of them by huge amounts. For the most part they're all junk and a waste of money. There are some things that help in small ways. I like the K&N filter system, it flows very freely and since it's reusable allows you to keep a super clean filter for less cash. It's not going to give you any significant gains in mileage over any other clean filter. Computer chips are another biggie. Since most people see their car's computers as somewhere between voodoo and sanskrit in terms of their understanding it's easy to imagine that reprogramming the computer can get you more miles on a tank of gas. They almost never work. You car was programmed to operate efficiently from the factory. Install the chip wrong and you might fry your computer -- expensive. To get the best mileage, keep up with your maintenance, be sure your tires are properly inflated and slow down!
Comments
November 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm
(1) Dusty says:

These chips are another scam in the automotive world, like the 500 mpg carburetor or magnets on the fuel line. Some new chips can help “performance” but at the cost of fewer MPG’s. It takes a specified amount of fuel mixed with a specific amount of air to burn and make heat energy that in turn actually makes the physics of the engine propel the car. Car manufacturers and engineers do all in their power to maximize the end result of the balancing act. Stay with what is already engineered into the machine.

November 25, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(2) Andrew Porter says:

Changing the engine management ‘chip’ in a car has another risk, reference what happens in the UK. You may have a lower range VW TDI car, and change the engine management chip for a model higher up the range and get better performance. However, you risk damaging the engine, and unless you have advised your insurance provider that the car has been modified, particularly if it improves the car’s performance, your insurance can be made invalid and you are then driving illegally. This could prove to be very expensive.

December 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm
(3) Truett says:

OK, those touting air filters, magnets and chips were wrong all this time – I’m surprised!!
Alan Greenspan fessed up recently that his theories, the ones he subscribed to all his career were wrong, too. What’s new????????

January 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm
(4) mick says:

when I bought my buick century in 2003 they told me I would get 37 to38 mpg on the highway. I didn’t belive them but that is what I got. when they changed my battery they didn’t put a battery in to save the settings and it dropped to 27 mpg highway.
I talked to the dealer and they won’t help. what did they originally do to my v6 and why can’t they do it noe/w

February 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm
(5) henry says:

To the guy who had the buick century that received 38 mpg on the highway….i knew someone else who had a buick century that got 38 mpg as well and they said they had a computer chip installed. He told me the name but i haven’t talked to him in years and i lost his number, but i wanted to help re-affirm what you said to anyone who reads it and doesn’t believe it. If anyone knows how to do it or has had it done PLEASE let us know so i can have it done with my buick

thanks

February 16, 2013 at 3:09 pm
(6) nick says:

why even bother with a 97 astro van lol

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