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Most Common Car Maintenance Myths That You Must Know

If you are not a car enthusiast, and simply an everyday, average driver/commuter, it is likely that you may be unaware of faulty, yet common, maintenance tips that are routinely enforced by your regular mechanic or the 10-minute oil change shop around the corner. At no fault of your own, these shops and the general auto industry serves to keep themselves in business, and follow the recommendations of the companies that endorse their product. While it is important to follow the direction of automotive experts who seemingly know “more than you do,” it is also important to be an informed consumer who can weed through mechanic jargon and media-authorized recommendations that will ultimately get you nowhere but the bottom of your wallet and checkbook. Blindly following the suggestion of others is simply not wise—it is likely that these suggestions are blindly recommended, or they aim to earn your money. Here are some of the most common car maintenance myths that you must know before you take anyone else’s word for it.

Car Oil Change

Oil change interval

You may have heard that oil changes are essential to the overall function of your vehicle; this statement in itself is highly accurate—the oil in your car is critical to the engine and the other moving parts of the vehicle. Having clean oil is imperative: not only does it keep the engine running properly, it can also drastically extend the life of your vehicle. What is a myth, however, is that the oil must be changed every 3,000 miles, or every 3 months. This is simply a recommended “average” for drivers who typically drive in dirt terrain or in congested traffic frequently. Spending money unnecessarily on oil changes that are too frequent can put a dent in your wallet over the course of a year. For oil-change shops in particular, they make money off of the amount of product they use, which includes filters and fluids; therefore, the more often you come back to have your oil, oil filter, or air filter changed, the more product they sell. You can check your oil yourself easily if you want to make sure it’s clean; simply open the hood and pull out the oil dipstick—the fluid should be relatively clear at the bottom and full to the line.

Warm up before drive

Another automotive myth that you may have heard roaming the rumor-mill is that you must let your car warm up before you drive anywhere. This is an inaccurate, generalized statement that is ultimately meant for cars that must endure harshly cold weather. A general rule of thumb is that if you must scrape ice off of your windshield, then you should let your car warm up for about a minute. In today’s technologically advanced cars, it is not necessary to allow the car to warm up; it does this on its own while driving. Allowing your car’s engine to run in your driveway for 10 minutes is not advice that is applicable to modern cars, and it is frankly a waste of gas and pollution. Now you can wake up in the morning knowing that you don’t need to waste any time or money on allowing your car to warm up before you rush to work.

Car Engine Check by Auto Mechanic

Tire pressure

Checking your tire pressure and filling it to its recommended pressure is important for several reasons: it keeps you looking at the tread and wear on your tire to check for any unevenness, and properly-filled tires will help your vehicle feel and perform its best. When filling your tire with air, the common myth is that you must fill the tire to the psi number that is located on the tire. This is not the recommended tire pressure, it is the maximum capacity of air for the tire—if you fill it past this, it may cause the tire to bubble, or even explode while driving. When you fill your tire, it is best to keep the tire pressure at the recommended pressure; you can find this information on a sticker in one a several possible areas of your car: in the glove-box, on the gas tank door, or on the inside of the driver’s door frame. Following these common car myths can be expensive, time-consuming, or can even cause damage in some cases. Do yourself a favor and take your car to an automotive expert, not a shady mechanic.

How to Jump-Start Your Car Safely

When you are late for work already, and you turn the key to your car only to find that the battery is dead, you may quickly opt for a taxi ride to work to avoid the wrath of your boss. Although a dead battery can be stressful and burdensome to most people, it is rather easily fixed, as long as you have all the proper tools and information in order to jump-start your vehicle. Unfortunately, many people each year have been badly injured, and have even died, trying to jump-start a car. While this fact can be scary, these are instances that occur when jump-starting is not done properly or safely. Now, don’t let that scare you away from trying it yourself—as long as you know what you are doing and are taking all the necessary safety precautions, jump-starting a battery can be perfectly fine for anyone to try. However, it does require another individual who is willing and able to donate their battery power and vehicle for a few moments, so this would be a good opportunity to shake hands with the neighbor you ignore every morning as you both get into your cars and drive off to work.

Battery Check

Get the essential equipment ready

The first step is to be prepared for a dead battery at any moment. Keep a good pair of working gloves and jumper cables in your trunk at all times, along with the usual first-aid kit, spare tire, and towels. Luckily, jump-starting your car does not require many essentials, except the proper jumper cables and a willing participant with a working battery in their car. You should be able to look at both vehicles, find the battery and the correct terminals that you will be connecting to the jumper cables. Bring the two vehicles’ hoods as close together as possible—the jumper cables do not need to be long, because the longer the cable, the more likely it is that you will lose any shred of power that might help jump-start your battery. You’ll want a strong gauge cable; usually about an average 6 gauge is a good rule of thumb. In the next steps, pay attention closely; electric currents are no joking matter; as mentioned before, a person could become severely injured by electrocution if proper precautions are not taken.

Take safety precautions

After the two cars are parked closely together, put both the cars in the parked position, or for a stick shift, put the car in neutral; both emergency brakes should be on. This will keep the cars from moving dangerously apart while connected, or at the worst time—while trying to connect the cables. Be sure that both the engines are safely turned off and that the keys are put away—we do not want any accidental ignition start-ups. Following these safety precautions, you should find the batteries on both vehicles. Investigate the battery to make sure you can safely find the terminals where you will be clamping on the cables—if you need to, then clear off any debris from the battery so that you can identify the terminals with absolute certainty. While you are doing this, the cables should be placed aside in a safe area.

The vital part

After finding the positive and negative terminal sites, you can now attach the cables. The positive cable clip should be attached to the corresponding site on the drained battery; this terminal will be marked with a plus sign (+). Then, connect the other end of the cable’s positive clip to the working battery. Next, connect the negative cable clip () to the corresponding negative clip on the working battery. After that, you will want to remain cautious and connect the other negative clip end of the cable to a shiny metal bolt (something metallic and unpainted other than the battery) on the vehicle with the drained battery—do not connect the cable to the battery itself.

Battery Clipping

Final thought

Start the functioning car and remain patient for a moment while the battery charges itself. After a few minutes, you can try starting the car with the drained battery. If it has not worked yet, you can remain patient for a few more moments and try again, or you can also try revving the engine slightly. After the car is running, unclip the negative clips being careful not to allow the cables to touch. Now you can head off to work, and while you drive there, your battery will charge the whole way. Most importantly, be safe while doing this, and if you don’t feel comfortable, its always best to err on the side of caution and bring it to a professional for help.