Common Car Care Myths vs. Realities

  • By Lea Naiz
  • 26 Jun, 2017
Your car, undoubtedly, is one of your biggest financial investments. You want it to last and you want to take the steps necessary to avoid the need for expensive repairs. The best way to achieve both of these goals is to be diligent about car maintenance. That can be easier said than done, as car-maintenance myths abound. Knowledge is power, and can save you time, stress, and money. Are you ready to test   your   car-care IQ?
People at mechanic with car

Myth or Reality? You Must Have Your Car Serviced at the Dealership Or You’ll Void Your Warranty.

This a myth — a pervasive one! New cars are covered by factory warranties for varying periods of time. Cars’ owner’s manuals list specific preventive maintenance tasks (oil and filter changes, for example) that must be performed regularly to preserve the warranty. There is absolutely no requirement to have these services performed at the dealership! A quality independent auto repair shop has the tools, equipment, and expertise to service your car according to factory specifications and preserve your warranty. Having your car serviced by an independent repair shop is usually much more convenient and significantly less expensive than having it serviced at the dealership.

Myth or Reality? You Only Need to Replace Your Transmission Fluid Every 100,000 Miles.

This is another myth perpetuated, in part, by automakers. In   some   cases, replacing your transmission fluid every 100,000 miles will be sufficient. If you’re tough on your vehicle and/or you use it to tow, though, most technicians urge you to change your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

Simply put, fresh transmission fluid helps keep your engine and transmission working optimally. The more diligent you are about routine maintenance (including having your vehicle’s fluids changed) the longer your car will serve you. You’ll have no need to replace it. That’s great news for you, but not so great for automakers whose goal is to sell more cars! Most technicians agree that it’s wise to err on the side of caution and spend a little to have all of your vehicle’s fluids changed regularly. You’ll save a lot in the long run!

Myth or Reality? To Get Premium Engine Performance, You Must Use Premium Gasoline.

This is a myth. In most cases, the only difference between filling up with premium gas versus regular unleaded gas will be that you’ll pay more for premium. According to the American Petroleum Institute, if your vehicle runs fine on regular unleaded gas, there’s no need to use premium gas. A 2016 report from the American Automobile Association concluded that U.S. drivers wasted more than $2 billion the previous year by using premium fuel in cars designed to run on regular unleaded fuel.

Note: Check your owner’s manual. Some high-performance cars are specifically designed to use only premium gas. If the owner’s manual says premium is   recommended , it’s fine to use regular. However, if it says premium is   required , be sure to use only premium gas.

Myth or Reality? Waiting to Fill Up Until Your Tank is on Empty Can Damage Your Engine.

This is a   reality ! If you repeatedly wait until your low-fuel warning light illuminates to gas up, you could damage your engine. Gas serves as a coolant for your car’s fuel-pump motor. When the gasoline level becomes very low (less than a quarter of tank full), the pump will draw in air in addition to gas and could damage the motor. Another risk of driving when your fuel level is very low is that debris in your gas tank could be transferred to your fuel pump and could clog your fuel filter. To be safe, head to a gas station when your fuel indicator approaches a quarter of a tank.

Myth or Reality? If You Replace One Tire, You Must Replace All Tires.

This is a myth. In a perfect world, the treads of all four of your vehicle’s tires would wear evenly and it would make perfect sense to replace all four at the same time. We don’t live in a perfect world! While you don’t necessarily need to replace all four tires at the same time, for optimal performance you should replace tires in sets of two or four. If you drive over a sharp object that destroys one of your tires, you don’t necessarily need to replace all four. However, when you replace the destroyed tire, you should also replace the other tire on the same axle. While replacing all four tires at the same time is ideal, it is safe to replace tires in sets of two as long as your existing tires have sufficient tread. There is one exception, though. Manufacturers of all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles strongly recommend replacing all four tires at the same time to avoid damage to the AWD system.

How did you do? If you were stumped by any of these questions, you’re definitely not alone. Vehicles are complex. If you’re not a car-care professional, distinguishing between car-care fact and fiction can be tough. That’s precisely why it’s wise to establish a relationship with a reputable car-care professional you can trust to guide you. By all means, educate yourself on car-maintenance best practices. When in doubt, ask a professional!

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