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.
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.
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.