Myth #1: Premium gas pays for itself.
The logic is to use only the highest-grade gas, and your car will need fewer tune-ups and get better mileage. Those extra cents per gallon are a good investment. The car runs more efficiently while burning fuel better.
With modern technology, the best fuel economy results from the best ignition point. Additionally, the car will eliminate road and knocking noises. Personally, I run only high test in all of my vehicles.
However, some experts disagree. The difference between 87 and 93 octane is relatively insignificant. You will realize neither better mileage nor fewer maintenance bills by purchasing supreme. Unless the car is supercharged or the model specifies that it needs higher octane, choose the inexpensive fuel. Buy the cheapest — unless you are in Mexico, where the cheapest is closer to kerosene.
Myth #2: You can drive a long distance on “empty.”
As a matter of fact, you can drive many miles on empty. Most gas tanks hold about two gallons in reserve.
Car producers have seemingly created this gauge for the forgetful, but this feature is actually an ingenious marketing strategy. Gas gauges are not linear. They are designed to stay “full” for numerous miles. Then, the gauge moseys down to “half” before quickly plunging to a “quarter.” Gradually the marker moves to zero, at which point you have about two gallons.
When the gas is filled, it stays “full” for countless miles. This assumption misleads you to believe in your car’s superb mileage. When you finally hit ’empty,’ you feel lucky to drive such a long distance.
Some experts do advise against running on empty. The truth is the car gets to a point where it is starved for fuel. The vehicle then takes a long time to re-pressurize. By actually starving the injectors, there is the chance of vapor lock. To avoid this conundrum, when the gas light flashes, find gas immediately.
Myth #3: Always keep your tank full.
Fathers of teenagers love to pass down this sage nugget, perhaps recalling times they ran on fumes during their wild youth. This myth actually rings true.
Always keep fuel in the tank during wintertime because this prevents water from leaking into the tank causing sweat. When your car exits the garage, you can get moisture in the tank because gas is cold. When your car drives into a warm garage, moisture can build up and sweat. You will experience definite running issues as a result.
To illustrate a potential problem, you may need the car at midnight in the dead of winter. You drive a few miles while the gas gauge stays on ’empty.’ You might assume that the gauge is broken. Face the facts: a car without gas is no car. If you have an emergency, you could get stranded in a blizzard without fuel to run the heater. Your miserliness could cost you your life.
Myth #4: Always over-fill your tires.
This car myth masqueraded for decades as an insider’s tip for getting better gas mileage and less wear on the tires. To be honest, this myth does not influence mileage. You should keep your tires at the recommended pressure because they wear badly when either over-inflated or under-inflated.
For best results, get even wear by rotating your tires every 7,500 miles. As for under-filling tires, for every pound a tire is below recommended pressure, it will run hotter and wear faster. If you ran a tire only five pounds too low, the tire’s life expectancy would be reduced 20 percent.
Myth #5: Improve mileage by drafting behind 18-wheelers.
Yes, this technique worked for bicycle racers in the movie, “Breaking Away.” For a car, the positive effect on mileage is negligible while the risks are potentially fatal. If an abrupt stop occurs, the trucker cannot see your vehicle behind the rig. If you are unprepared, the truck can out-brake you. This would cause you to crash the truck’s tailgate and your windshield. Are you searching for the quickest route to a cracked windshield? In that case, give this myth some credence.
Myth #6: Water is equivalent to antifreeze.
We mere mortals take coolant largely on faith. After all, anything that is tested with little colored balls in a turkey baster is far beyond our comprehension. Left to our own devices, we would simply fill the radiator with a garden hose. This cheapskate trick would prove to be detrimental.
Antifreeze coolant is far better than H2O, as it is designed to continue engine cooling in temperature extremes. Coolant also prevents the corrosion and mineral deposits associated with salted winter lanes. Still, antifreeze is not foolproof. Problems with antifreeze could result if too much is added: counter intuitively, it will not cool very well. The mixture must be correctly proportioned, and antifreeze must be drained and replaced periodically. This ensures those heat-reducing cells do not get clogged.
Myth #7: Heavy hauling requires a standard transmission
This maxim prevailed when standard transmissions were preferable to some relatively shaky early automatics. Time and technology, however, have turned this into a car myth.
Some mechanics even recommend automatics for towing. The reason is that cars now have computerized drive train management systems to calculate gear shifts more precisely than a driver. Thereby, the transmission’s life is prolonged. Never pull a trailer in overdrive.
Myth #8: Always warm up your car.
Yes, good old Dad’s words of wisdom ring true once again. By warming the car, the oil gets into the head and valves. Cold starting and heat cycling are two car-killing culprits. The driver benefits, as well. No one likes to get into an icy auto on a snowy winter morning.
Myth #9: If you lost your keys, just hotwire the car.
It may have been a snap to illicitly crank an engine back when Nehru jackets were in fashion, but this is not advisable. You could have easily hotwired in the days when the ignition was located in the dash. This is no longer an option.
If you have an assortment of technology in your vehicle, it would be dangerously easy to damage the entire system by hotwiring. Always make sure you have a set of spare keys, an up-to-date auto club membership, and a mechanic willing to repair your auto-boosting damage for a reasonable price. (Hint: Buckhead Imports)
Myth #10: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Perhaps the very best car tip, there is no myth about it. Most experts agree on this theory, provided you are current with the maintenance. You can probably recall some friend’s attempt to repair things that did not need maintenance. This most likely caused him a series of headaches. Wait until the car gives you telltale signs of problems; then, respond accordingly.
Myth #11: You can go 25,000 miles without an oil change.
This may be one of the worst pieces of advice in recent years. With cleaner running engines and the emergence of synthetic oils, some car manufacturers have stated that engines will run longer than ever recorded.
While this may be partially true, your car needs a regular oil change to keep the internals clean. This is especially applicable to metropolitan drivers, who are trapped in rush hour traffic daily. Most experts suggest changing the oil every three to five thousand miles.
The consequence of not changing the oil is sludge buildup. Sludge causes engine performance to deteriorate. In extreme cases, sludge can even force engines to seize completely. The moral of the story is clear: change your oil regularly.