Car Care: Myths Debunked

There is plenty of advice and there are “words of wisdom” when it comes to taking care of your vehicle. You have probably heard many different things, perhaps from family member, friends, and car “experts,” but how many times have you received information that often conflicts with previous bits of misinformation about the proper maintenance of your vehicle?

The problem with some of these myths is that they can cause you to spend extra money or time when they really aren’t needed. We’re not exactly sure how most of these started; however, since we like to think of ourselves somewhat as experts, we want to debunk and give you the truth behind some of the most common car myths.

Allow the engine to warm up by idling.

While idling the engine is effective to warm the inside of your car on a freezing day, it does nothing for the engine—not to mention, it wastes fuel. The best way to warm the engine is to drive.

Premium gas improves performance.

Premium gas is for high-performance engines, and they require a higher octane fuel to prevent premature ignition of gas. These engines run using higher temperatures and have a higher compression, so the premium gas is needed.

However, if your car does have a high compression engine, you do not need premium gas. In fact, putting premium gas into a vehicle that does not call for it can do harm to the performance rather than improve it.

The sidewall of a tire gives a list of the recommended air pressure.

The numbers on the sidewall of a tire usually signify the tire size and the aspect ratio. The best way to determine the maximum pressure for your tires is to consult the owner’s manual. Always check the tire pressure, especially when the weather turns cold, as the cooler temperatures cause a lot of tires to loose pressure.

Change the oil every 3,000 miles or every three months.

While it is certainly important to go for regular oil changes, since not changing your oil can cause major damage to your engine, the time in between oil changes often depends on your vehicle model and how much you drive it. Older models tend to need them around every three months; however, most modern models of cars allow for longer intervals between changes.

Low brake fluid is an indication of a leak.

While low brake fluid may be an indication of a leak, it is more likely an indication that the brake pads need to be replaced. When the pads become thinner, the brake cylinders use more fluid, leaving the reservoir with less fluid.

But, again, this is not always the case. Sometimes your fluid just needs to be replaced, which is why your brakes and all fluid should be regularly checked.

Use dish soap to clean your car.

Despite what anyone may have told you, dish soap should not be used to clean your car. The formula in most dish soap is designed to cut through hard grease while going easy on your skin, but this doesn’t effectively work to clean your vehicle. The soap cuts through wax and will often leave a streaky residue.

Only go to your dealer for regular maintenance issues.

Although your dealer might tell you otherwise, it is perfectly okay, and often cheaper, to go to professional auto-repair shops for regular maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle. There are plenty of certified mechanics all over the country, so do your research and find a quality shop near you.

Always flush the coolant each time your change the oil.

Yes, you should check your coolant a couple of times a year for any leaks or low fluid, and you should change the fluid about every 60,000 miles. There is no need to flush the fluid every time you get an oil change unless it is needed.

Your car battery will recharge after a jump start.

When stranded with a dead battery, a jump-start will save you. While it can keep your battery going for the time being, it doesn’t fully recharge a battery that needs to be replaced. If a battery is drained due to lights that were left on or something of that nature, your battery is able to recharge, but should be checked to see if it still can hold a full charge.