Many of today’s car-maintenance myths are simply statements that have been repeated so often that everyone assumes they’re true. In the past, some maintenance tips were indeed conscientious practices, but over many decades the technology has changed and what was useful long ago is no longer valid.
Here are five that stand out the most to me.
Myth #5: Air conditioning hurts fuel economy
Granted, this doesn’t necessarily fall under “car maintenance,” but it’s still a popular misconception. According to Consumer Reports…
“Using the A/C does put more load on the engine, but in our tests, we found just a slight decrease in fuel economy and no measurable difference when opening the windows (open windows do increase aerodynamic drag). However, using the A/C helps keep the driver alert and more comfortable, which is safer for everyone on the road. We say, just use the A/C and don’t worry about it.”
Myth #4: Warm up your car for several minutes before driving
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say you need to warm up your car for several minutes before driving. I haven’t done it in years myself, but notice that quite a few others do.
According to Stephen Mraz at machinedesign.com…
“Driving the car is the fastest way to warm up a modern engine, and the sooner it warms up, the sooner it delivers the best mileage and performance. And don’t rev the engine during the first few miles.”
In other words, don’t waste time or gas running your car for several minutes before you take off in the morning.
Myth #3: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the sidewall
I don’t know how often you check your tire pressure, but if you’re like most, it’s probably only when the tire looks low. When I used to go to the “Free Air” pump at the gas station (I now have an air compressor at home), I always aimed for the psi stated on the side of the tire.
Here’s what Consumer Reports says:
“The pounds-per-square-inch figure on the side of the tire is the maximum pressure that the tire can safely hold, not the automaker’s recommended pressure, which provides the best balance of braking, handling, gas mileage, and ride comfort. That figure is usually found on a doorjamb sticker, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door.”
Myth #2: You must visit the dealership for vehicle maintenance to maintain your warranty
I grabbed this one off Nationwide’s list of Car Maintenance Myths. It’s a classic fear tactic. What matters is that the maintenance work gets done, as opposed to which certified technician does it.
“As long as maintenance is performed on the schedule that’s specified in your owner’s manual, you can take it to any shop,” says Sidney Billingsley, CEO and owner of Woodbridge, Va.-based HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire.
Don’t forget to document all work.
Myth #1: The 3,000-mile oil change
There was a time when the 3,000-mile oil change made sense. Things changed with the advent of synthetic motor oil, which is more robust than conventional oil and capable of lasting longer.
And yet, even though some owner’s manuals stated in black and white that oil could be changed at intervals of up to 7,500 miles, quick lubes trained staff to place that “3,000 miles till your next oil change” sticker on peoples’ windshields.
On one occasion I was sitting in a seminar at the annual Automotive Oil Change Association convention in which oil change intervals were being discussed. The speaker was well-known in the industry. During a Q&A period after his presentation he was asked about the discrepancy between what he was telling people – to change oil every 3,000 miles – and what their owner’s manuals said. He replied, “Don’t worry, owner’s manuals are like Bibles – the most printed and least read books in the world.” He winked a couple times, and there was laughter. A few people thought this was funny. I didn’t.
Fortunately, the 3,000-mile oil-change myth has be debunked. If you search Google for car-maintenance myths, it’s near the top of nearly every list.
Regardless how often you change your oil, we have an oil that delivers excellent wear protection and engine cleanliness to help keep your vehicle running strong.