Effective car maintenance plays an important part in the automotive world whether you own a small hatchback, an SUV or a luxury sedan. Since we can remember, there have been several misconceptions and car myths about how to properly look after your vehicle. Not only from a physical maintenance perspective but also how to maximise performance.
Every person has their own set of theories and while many common myths have been passed on for generations, some only apply to older cars. In fact, most of these myths have formed the basis for many drivers making the choices they do today. For the sake of accuracy, here is our list of the most popular car myths along with some interesting facts.
Does Air Conditioning Use More Fuel?
This is possibly one of the oldest misconceptions and while some opinions vary in severity, it is a true statement. Just as driving with the windows open uses more fuel, so does the air conditioning. However, the amount of additional strain that the air conditioning puts on your car doesn’t make a noticeable difference in fuel consumption.
The numbers can differ as it always depends on your car, how you drive and if you do regular services. On average, driving with air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by 8-10%. Above 90 km/h it’s usually better to run the air con instead of driving with the windows open that can also cause extra drag.
Maintaining Correct Tyre Pressure Is Not Essential
If there’s one thing more important than functioning brakes it has to be good quality tyres. At the same time, tyre pressure is absolutely essential in car and road safety. Many drivers don’t pay close enough attention to their tyre tread and pressure which could be a safety hazard and an expensive fix if something goes wrong.
So many vehicle owners will go for months without checking their tyre pressure and that has led to the incorrect assumption that maintaining the specified pressure is not important. The exact opposite is true as tyre pressure is one of the most important parts of effective vehicle maintenance. Tyres are also expensive and not using the correct tyre pressure can lead to premature wear.
Not only is your safety at risk but you will also have to replace your tyres more often. Did you know that maintaining the incorrect tyre pressure means using more fuel? All of these ‘small costs’ add up and you will be left with a hefty bill just because your tyres are not regularly checked.
Should You Use Dishwashing Liquid To Wash Your Car?
This myth features prominently as many vehicle owners have been using dishwashing liquid to clean their cars for as long as they can remember. What many don’t realise is that it doesn’t cause immediate or noticeable damage but the fact is, dishwashing liquid is rather potent.
Because it was made to dissolve oil and grease, your vehicle’s paint could fade and lose its shine if using it regularly. If you often wash your car at home, we recommend using a product that is specifically designed to protect the paint on your vehicle.
Idling The Car To Warm Up
While this may have been one of the more common car myths back in the day, it only really applies to some older cars. Your grandparents probably did exactly that; starting the car and leaving it to idle for a few minutes. Today’s cars don’t need time to warm up as the fuel injection systems are much more advanced and all you end up doing is wasting valuable (and expensive) fuel. The same principle applies when revving the engine once you’ve started the car as it also just wastes fuel and does not improve your car’s performance.
That said, one should never over rev the engine at any time but especially not when you’ve just started the car. While technology is more advanced and everything seems to work better, the engine has many moving parts which still require oil for lubrication. Revving a cold engine too much and too often can easily result in an expensive repair bill.
Using Hazard Lights For Any Situation
Contrary to what some drivers may think, hazard lights are only supposed to be used in an actual emergency situation. According to research, “The law says such lights can only be used when a vehicle is ‘stationary in a hazardous position’ or ‘in motion in an emergency situation’.”
Hazard lights are meant to alert other drivers of a potentially dangerous situation and not for any other ‘minor incident’. By that we mean using hazard lights to wait for a friend while they quickly pop into the shop, driving slowly when looking for an address or when it’s foggy or misty. Yes, hazards might be useful even in those circumstances but doing so is, in fact, illegal.
Automatic Gearboxes use More Fuel Than Manual Cars
Once again we refer to older cars as this myth may have been the case a few years ago but not so much today. Technology has advanced considerably over the last decade alone with features such as cruise control and continuously variable transmission (CVT) systems that enable effortless automatic gear changes. These advancements have certainly closed the gap between manual and automatic transmission as it now provides a limitless range of gear ratios. Today, some automatic cars are even more fuel efficient than their manual counterparts.
There are so many car myths and misconceptions that it really comes down to doing your own research when someone says something that you don’t quite agree with. The Internet is at your fingertips and with the substantial amount of available resources, dispelling a particular myth is easier than ever before.