When you buy a new car, you expect it to run well. It’s new.
That is a car repair myth you might find out for yourself if you’ve recently purchased a new car.
According to the 2023 JD Power Initial Quality Study, vehicle quality continued to worsen with the 2022 line of automobiles. For 2022, the average rate of problems per 100 vehicles jumped to 180. And for 2023 – it’s already averaging 192 problems per 100 vehicles.
New cars can have a host of problems almost as soon as you drive them off the showroom floor. Today’s cars are built with all sorts of new bells and whistles, many of them untried with limited testing. Consider yourself a beta tester – and things can sometimes go wrong.
Of course, that’s not the only car repair myth people believe. In fact, a lot of drivers believe a variety of myths that can make your car less efficient and require more maintenance over time. Have you ever believed one of these?
Myth #1 Engines require a warm-up period before you drive away
Have you ever headed out early on a cold, winter morning to start your car and let it warm up before you drive away? It’s a myth.
This myth stems from the era of carbureted engines, where a warm-up period was necessary to ensure proper fuel flow. Modern fuel-injected engines do not require an extended warm-up period. Idling your car for an extended period of time wastes fuel and causes unnecessary wear on the engine.
You can start driving gently right after starting your car, and the engine will warm up faster while driving.
Myth #2 Open windows waste fuel
Today’s cars are aerodynamic by design. They’re intended to be driven as a closed circuit, windows up, everything in its place. Driving with the windows down creates a significant drag on the car, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency. Right?
Think again. While it’s true that open windows can cause some drag, the impact on fuel efficiency is generally minimal, especially at lower speeds.
That may change a bit at higher speeds. The increased drag can have a noticeable effect. But something maybe even more important – what do you prefer?
When you’re heading out for a busy day, you may want the windows up for a quiet environment. Heading home from the beach may be the perfect time to enjoy fresh air and freedom – something you feel with the windows down.
Cars are built for efficiency. It all averages out over time.
Myth #3 Skip the air conditioner and roll down windows for better fuel efficiency
Contrary to popular belief, rolling down the windows and turning off the air conditioner is not always the most fuel-efficient option. At high speeds, the increased aerodynamic drag caused by open windows can offset the fuel savings from not using the air conditioner.
Again, it’s all about preferences. How can you create the most comfortable environment for you? The change in fuel efficiency isn’t that noticeable, depending on your driving preferences.
Myth #4 Cheaper gas can harm a car’s engine
Remember when changing the oil every 3,000 miles or three months was commonly recommended? It’s long since been a rule of thumb.
Would it surprise you to learn that most modern cars are designed to run efficiently on regular unleaded gasoline?
Before you head to the pumps, spend a few minutes with your owner’s manual. What octane fuel does the manufacturer recommend? Using a higher octane fuel than recommended by the manufacturer will not provide any significant benefits and may be a waste of money.
But don’t forgo recommendations. Using a lower octane fuel than recommended can potentially cause knocking or pinging. This shouldn’t cause any long-term damage, but it’s always better for your engine to treat it well.
Myth #5 Oil changes are necessary every 3,000 miles
Remember when it was commonly recommended to change the oil every 3,000 miles or three months? It’s long since been a rule of thumb.
Advancements in oil and engine technology have extended oil change intervals for most vehicles. The frequency of oil changes depends on various factors, such as the type of oil used, driving conditions, and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
For many modern cars, an oil change every 5,000 to 7,500 miles is sufficient. Consult your owner’s manual or contact a trusted mechanic to determine the appropriate interval for your vehicle.
Myth #6 Manual transmissions are more efficient than automatic
Today’s drivers prefer automatic over manual transmissions – 96 percent of our roadways are filled with automatic cars.
Yet many of those drivers still believe that manual transmissions are more fuel-efficient than automatic transmissions. While this was true in the past, modern automatic transmissions have evolved significantly.
The introduction of advanced technologies, such as continuously variable transmissions (CVT) and dual-clutch transmissions (DCT), has narrowed the fuel efficiency gap between manual and automatic transmissions. In some cases, automatic transmissions can even outperform their manual counterparts in terms of fuel economy.
Myth #7 Replace all four tires at the same time
Uh, oh, a tire is flat. When it’s time to replace a tire, all four must be replaced simultaneously.
Or do they?
In reality, tire replacement depends on several factors, such as tread wear, tire damage, and the condition of the remaining tires. If only one tire is damaged or worn out, replacing it alone may be sufficient. However, it’s essential to maintain consistent tread depth and tire performance across all four tires for optimal handling and safety.
Regularly monitor the condition of your tires and consult a professional if you’re unsure about their replacement.
Myth #8 New car warranties require repair and maintenance at the dealer
While it’s true that new car warranties require proper maintenance, it’s not necessary to have all repairs and maintenance performed exclusively at the dealer. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and use genuine or recommended parts, you have the freedom to choose where you get your car serviced.
Independent repair shops and qualified mechanics can perform routine maintenance and repairs without voiding your warranty. Just make sure to keep records of the maintenance and repairs performed for warranty validation.
Myth #9 Today’s cars no longer need maintenance
Technology has made everything more efficient. Why worry about maintenance?
While modern cars are generally more reliable and technologically advanced, they still require routine maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Regular oil changes, fluid checks, filter replacements, and inspections are essential for keeping your car in top shape. Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs and decreased reliability over time.
Skip the car repair myths – maintain your vehicle every day
By debunking these common car repair myths, we hope to provide accurate information and empower you to make informed decisions about your vehicle.
Keep your owner’s manual handy. Consult with trusted professionals regularly. And continue to enjoy a smooth and hassle-free driving experience.