Additech, Inc. sells fuel additives at gas pumps that it claims will clean fuel systems, decrease emissions, and increases mileage. However, the complaint for this class action claims that the additives don’t do any of these things, or at least not to any great extent. The complaint makes claims under the state of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.
The class for this action is all persons who bought Additech’s Fuel System Cleaner or Diesel Guard Products in the state of Washington, at any time after January 7, 2015.
Both additives—the Fuel System Cleaner and Diesel Guard—are detergent additives. Detergent additives are intended to prevent and remove carbon deposits that form on engine components from the fuel combustion process.
Advertising for the additives tell consumers that they can “reduce emissions,” “increase mileage,” “protect against costly repairs,” and restore power” to their engines.
The complaint reproduces two of the ads posted at fuel pumps. One proclaims, “Cleans Fuel System Gunk!” It shows the back side of an intake valve, half of it coated with brown sludge and the other half shining-clean metal. The other tells consumers to “Go Green with Additech” and promises that the additives “reduce harmful emissions” from their vehicle.
However, the complaint says these claims prey on those who do not know much about vehicles.
First, it notes that around 50% of new vehicles use a gasoline direct-injection (GDI) process where gas is injected directly into the combustion chamber and never passes the intake valves. Diesel engines also use a direct-injection process. The additives will therefore never clean the intake valves.
Second, the complaint says that the advertising showing the half-dirty, half-clean intake valve implies that the cleaning happens in a single usage.
Third, even if the gas did go through the intake valves covered in carbon deposits, some of the carbon would be converted to exhaust, which would increase emissions, at least for the moment.
Fourth, the complaint claims that the National Center for Vehicle Emissions Control and Safety tested Additech’s Fuel System Cleaner and found that the increase in gas mileage it provided was statistically insignificant.
Also, gasoline already contains detergent additives, since a minimum amount is required by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some kinds contain more than even the amounts than required.
The complaint brings suit under the Washington State Consumer Protection Act, for deceptive and unfair business practices in misrepresenting the effects of its products.