What are those "marbles" rolling around in my gas tank??

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently purchased a 1962 Chevy Biscayne. The gas tank was leaking and couldn't be patched, so I took it out. When I removed the tank, it sounded like marbles were rolling around in there! I tipped it upside down, and three little coin-sized weights fell out. There must be six or seven more in there. I'm enclosing one of them with my letter for your inspection. Do you think that for some bizarre reason the manufacturer put them in fuel tanks back then? If so, why?

TOM: What you've got here, Ed, are authentic octane-boosting, gas-mileage-increasing magic pellets. I haven't seen these in years!

RAY: These were sold in the backs of magazines and on bubble gum wrappers. They promised to boost performance and mileage if you threw them in your tank. I'm sure the description had some mumbo-jumbo about metal hydride ionization or some such thing, and ten of them probably sold for $8.95. Snake oil remedies such as this have been sold for centuries.

TOM: In fact, my brother bought these very same pellets back in 1980. Only the ones he bought were supposed to make his hair grow!

RAY: There's no need to worry, Ed. I can personally guarantee you that these pellets did absolutely no damage to your Chevy Biscayne over the years. Just as I can guarantee you that they did absolutely no good, either.

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