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2008 SEMA - Aftermarket fuel economy gauges to help mind your mileage

Consumer Reports News: November 07, 2008 03:40 PM

With drivers concerned about gasoline costs, aftermarket manufacturers are responding with devices promoted as helping to increase fuel economy. Many are the same old gimmicks and additives we’ve seen for years on late-night TV commercials and cheesy ads in supermarket tabloids. But there is a surging wave of electronic devices that claim to make drivers—not the vehicles—more efficient simply by getting them to pay attention to their fuel usage.

Two such devices caught our eye at the SEMA show. Both install by attaching a small gauge to the dashboard with an adhesive pad or screws, and routing a cord to the OBDII port, which is typically located under the dash. (Mechanics typically use this port, available on all cars since 1996, to diagnose a variety of vehicle ailments.) Once plugged in, these fuel-saving devices provide both instantaneous and average fuel economy. Drivers can then monitor and adjust their driving habits for better mileage.

The Ecometer from Auto Meter (shown here) features a 2-1/16-inch color gauge and reports on a variety of engine and vehicle parameters including engine RPM and vehicle speed, in addition to fuel mileage. Priced at $69.95, it goes on sale in January.

The somewhat more sophisticated Kiwi from PLX Devices turns fuel saving into more of a hyper-mileage game, scoring drivers on the smoothness of their acceleration and braking in addition to reporting fuel economy. It can be mounted on the windshield in addition to the dash. Its 2.2-inch display also reads and resets engine trouble codes. The Kiwi retails for $299.   

Jim Travers

Read about more cars, gear, news, and views from SEMA.   

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