A fact that you have grown up listening to is hard to debunk, especially when it is something that you always believed to be true. It is also interesting that there are so many myths associated with cars that are truly hollow.
Here we attempt to debunk some of the most prevalent car myths, as most of them are misunderstandings while the rest are quite damaging to the car itself!
Myth 1: Premium fuel gives your car more power
There are many who would pay some extra cash at the petrol pump for premium fuel. The fact is that in most cases, this is just a waste of money. While some high-performance cars do require premium gas, you can use regular fuel in your “non-premium” car without any issues.
When compared to ordinary fuel, premium fuel is not cleaner or more refined; it is only more combustible. It is suitable for engines with high compression ratios. Such engines are vulnerable to pre-ignition, where sparking of the gasoline occurs before the piston is ready. This results in knocking sounds, which are not prevalent in most modern cars with engine knock sensors.
Myth 2: Engines need to be warmed up before driving
This is a cold weather tip that is actually detrimental to your car. There are many who start their car and leave it idling to heat up before driving. This is a totally unnecessary step. Idling your car when the snow is out only wastes fuel and adds wear to the engine’s moving parts.
Moreover, vehicles today are designed to warm up quicker when driven and they reach peak efficiency faster.
Myth 3: To save money, buy fuel in the morning
This is based on the logic that gas is denser when temperatures are cool. So you get more fuel per litre pumped. However, this is completely untrue.
Gasoline is stored in tanks positioned under the ground, where there is hardly any temperature fluctuation. So the gas that comes from the nozzle is always at the same density, irrespective of the time of the day.
Myth 4: You should replace engine oil every 3000-5000 km
This is a very popular myth that probably was relevant before the 70s. The frequency with which you change your engine oil depends on the usage of the vehicle. Also most cars today do not need frequent oil changes. You need to check your car’s manual for the optimum maintenance schedule.
Myth 5: Cell phones can cause a fire in petrol pumps
The theory behind this is that vapours from the fuel combine with the wireless signals from the cell phone and these get ignited to cause an explosion. Most gas stations also have the “no cell-phone” sign displayed to deter customers from using their phone at the fuel pump.
However, studies on this have concluded that there is no documented incident where cell phone usage has caused a fire at a petrol pump. It is wise to keep it away while driving though, for obvious reasons.
Myth 6: Turning on the A/C is more fuel-efficient than opening windows
Studies have found that for different types of cars, running at varying speeds, turning on the A/C at medium power uses up more fuel than driving with the windows open.
Myth 7: Red cars get more speeding tickets and cost more to insure
There is no data to support the fact that red cars get fined more for speeding than cars of another colour.
Also, the colour of your car does not determine the rates of insurance. Specifications like the model and make of the car, capacity of the engine and year of manufacture decide the premiums.
Myth 8: Manual transmissions are more fuel-efficient than automatics
When automatic transmissions were a relatively new technology, this may have been true. But with recent technological advances such as the variable transmission with infinite gear ratios, the advantages of manuals have been eliminated to a large extent. So, in most cases today, engines with automatic transmission are preferred over the manual ones.
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Myth 9: Small cars are not as safe as big SUVs
Small cars produced today have low mass and energy-absorbing crumple zones. These are also produced with high strength steel to avoid accidents. So, while SUVs have their own advantages, small cars are also upto the mark, as far as safety and assurance is concerned.
Myth 10: Drive with your hands positioned at 10 and 2 o’clock
This is one of the most repeated maxims that you get to hear when you learn driving. This is actually a dangerous position in which you can hold the steering, because in case you get into an accident, your thumbs will be damaged by the inflating air-bags.
The 10 and 2 positions were relevant at a time when cars were not equipped with air-bags. So, today it is recommended to hold the steering wheel at 9 and 3 positions, or at the left and right sides, when you drive.
Most of the age-old car care mantras are now obsolete due to the advances in automobile technology. So it is important that one sieves out the truth from the myths before advocating them.