Every car owner hears about best practices for keeping his or her vehicle in good shape. Whether the advice comes from friends, family, or the car manufacturer, many maintenance suggestions for fuel efficiency, engine power, and overall vehicle longevity trickle down the exhaust pipe. Some tips suggest money-saving options or performance-enhancing practices. Yet, not everything passed along to car owners is necessarily true. Read on to find out 5 car maintenance myths that are actually false:
1. You need to change your oil every 3,000 miles
Once upon a time, this was the case, and many oil companies and lube shops still push this idea. Now, most cars made within the last decade or so require oil changes every 5,000 to 7,500 miles depending on the manufacturer. The better chemical composition and extensive use of synthetic oils, as well as superior engine design, have improved enough to allow for longer intervals between oil changes. Schedule your oil changes based on your owner’s manual recommendations. Otherwise, you’re pouring money down the drain.
2. Premium fuel is better for your car and will increase its performance
Unless your vehicle has a high-compression and performance engine that runs hotter than most others, regular gasoline works fine. The cheaper 86 octane fuel still has to meet quality standards — it won’t actively harm your car’s engine. Higher octane gas includes cleaners and protectants to keep turbo-charged engines in better shape — think sports car types — and is more resistant to engine knocking.
Typically, cars that require more expensive, premium gas cost more to purchase themselves. Regular gas should suit the average-priced vehicle. Check your owner’s manual to see what your car manufacturer suggests.
3. Vehicle servicing at independent repair shops will void your warranty
Your warranty is valid until the expiration date, regardless of where you service your car. Dealerships will imply that you can only go to them, but actually requiring you to do so is illegal. Any maintenance covered under your warranty can be performed by any auto repair shop — just save your receipts to prove what was done and how much it cost. Any maintenance specified in the owner’s manual and done according to the prescribed schedule should not void your warranty.
4. Warm up your car’s engine before driving in the cold
Engine parts do need to warm up to operate fully, but modern engines warm up faster while you’re actually driving. Additionally, your wheel bearings and transmission need movement to completely warm up. Running your car before driving in colder weather has no benefit other than heating you up inside the car. You’ll achieve the best fuel mileage and performance through usage. Idling the car in your driveway uses gas to go nowhere — essentially wasting money and fuel.
5. You should replace all four tires at the same time
Replace individual tires as needed so long as they’re the same brand, model, and size as the rest of your tires. You can switch them out whenever. Just make sure to have them rotated at every other oil change to maximize their life.
Additionally, you don’t necessarily need to purchase a new tire if you puncture one. If the puncture damaged the sidewall or is great than a quarter-inch in diameter, a mechanic can usually plug the hole. The patch will keep moisture out of the steel belts and restore your tire’s airtightness.