If you want to keep your car operational as long as possible, you must give it proper care. However, it is possible to incur unnecessary expenses or make other mistakes because of persistent maintenance myths. Here are 14 of the most common myths in Boulder and throughout the U.S.:
1.) For optimal fuel efficiency, choose to roll down your windows over the AC.
Having the AC on will make a car consume fuel faster. However, rolling down the windows is also problematic because it increases wind resistance, which counteracts the car’s aerodynamic design. To overcome the resistance, the car will need additional fuel. Approximately the same amount of gas is used if you roll down the windows or use the air conditioner, according to the Automotive Training Center (ATC).
Consumer Reports has the same basic findings. The consumer advice publication noted that the impact of air conditioning on fuel economy is minimal. Since the difference is negligible and it yields improvements in driver comfort and alertness, the magazine recommends using the AC without reservation.
2.) Use laundry detergent or dishwashing soap for car washes.
Any of the household detergents you use are dangerous to your car because they will wear away the wax finish, notes Machine Design. The soaps that are specifically designed for car washes will keep your wax safe.
3.) You want your tire to have the same pressure that is listed on its sidewall.
On the sidewall of your tire, you will see a pounds-per-square-inch number that represents the most the tire could contain for safe driving; in other words, it is not the PSI that is recommended in order to standardly get the best comfort, fuel economy, and handling. The ideal PSI for the car should be available on your fuel-filler door, within your glove box, or on a doorjamb sticker. If you take the maximum PSI and reduce by 10, you will get a 1 mpg improvement in your efficiency on average, per Consumer Reports tests.
However, the key concern – where the difference in pressure can be even more valuable – is in its impact on tire wear, braking, and handling. To stay on top of pressure, use a tire gauge once per month; the best time to check is when the car has been sitting for several hours.
4.) It is prudent to change oil every 3000 miles, regardless the vehicle.
The traditional model of car could use an oil change every 3000 miles. That truism has been outgrown by developments in engine operation and design. You will not cause damage with additional oil changes, but you may only need one every 5000 or 7500 miles. See your owner’s manual for advice specific to your model.
5.) You will get better fuel economy if you fill up your car each morning.
Often people will advise to get your gas in the morning rather than later, so you can benefit from the greater density of cooler temperatures. This piece of advice fails to take into account that the gas is stored in tanks underground; because of that, you won’t see much temperature fluctuation throughout the day. The fuel will not typically get hot while it comes through the pump as long as business is relatively steady. Simply changing your route to get gas when it could be slightly cooler will outweigh any gains you might see by giving preference to morning fill-ups – so effectively, time is irrelevant. Just get gas whenever you drive by a station.
6.) When you run over a nail, you need a new tire.
An auto repair shop will be able to fix a nail or other small puncture with a patch, rather than having to replace the whole tire.
7.) Don’t ever just replace a single tire.
(Note that the following does not apply to all-wheel-drive cars, for which you must replace all tires at once). Typically the recommendation is to get two tires at a time so that you keep the tread even and the car is not imbalanced. Actually, it is all right to replace a single tire, particularly if the additional tire still has plenty of tread. The key point is that the new tire you get is an identical match (tread pattern, speed rating, brand, and size) to the other half of the pair. Bumper to Bumper Radio co-host Matt Allen says putting on unmatched tires is “like wearing a running shoe and a heel.”
8.) Once you jumpstart your car, you can then recharge the battery in a quick drive.
It actually takes hours of driving for a complete battery recharge, particularly if it is colder. Your alternator can only use extra power that is available to recharge after supplying it to music systems, heated seats, and other auxiliary components. Get a load test at a gas station to make sure that the battery is capable of maintaining a charge. Once you know the battery is still functional, you can use a battery charger for a few hours to give it a full charge.
9.) You will help any car by giving it premium gas.
In most situations, a car will perform just as well on standard, 87 octane gas. Premium-octane fuel will not cause any problems but will typically not improve how it operates. As the octane number rises, you become less likely to experience pre-ignition issues with the gas – for which reasons it is suggested specifically for use with engines that are high-compression and run hot. If you have a car that is not high-compression and that can use any octane of unleaded fuel, the low-grade version will be fine. When the manual recommends a higher octane but does not require its use, standard octane should still work fine. The manual will make it explicit if high-octane gas is needed, in which case you will have to buy it.
10.) Octane ratings do not matter.
While there is no advantage to using premium fuel in a car designed for regular, there is a reason the premium fuel is there: some models do require it. You could cause engine damage if you use standard gas in a premium-fuel car.
11.) Coolant should be flushed every time you change the oil.
Generally, an owner’s manual will advise to switch out the coolant every 60,000 mile or 5 years. If you keep having to refill the coolant reservoir because the level drops, you may have a leak.
12.) It is important to make sure your car is warm before you drive it.
Warming up the car applied to older engines. Today, you will have the most success getting your engine temperature up by driving; once it is warm, you will get stronger performance and efficiency. Be careful about not revving the engine until you have driven the car for a few miles.
13.) The car should be fine if you cannot see or hear a problem.
If there is an issue with your car, it will not always be apparent. Drivers often do not notice problems. Bringing the car in to get it checked by a technician can help uncover any issues.
14.) If you want your warranty to stay active, you need to use the dealership for all maintenance.
You don’t need to have the job completed at a dealership. You simply need to follow the schedule in the owner’s manual to determine that work is performed at the listed intervals.
There are many myths about car maintenance. However, the reality is that you could easily lose 50,000 of the life of a car by not maintaining it properly, according to Edmunds.com senior consumer advice editor Philip Reed.
Are you looking for honest auto maintenance and repair in Boulder? At Independent Motors, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. Meet our staff.