Owning a vehicle today is no small feat. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of a new car has risen to an average of $47,148. Even used car prices have soared, with the average going for $28.205.
Maybe that’s why car owners are keeping them longer than ever before.
If you want your car to run well and be reliable throughout its life, a little maintenance and TLC can go a long way. Yet as you start reading about car maintenance routines, it can be a bit overwhelming to wonder who to trust.
With so many car maintenance myths out there, which should you believe? And which are costing you money?
Myth #1: You need to get an oil change every 3,000 miles
Cars are just over a century old.
A lot has changed in that century.
The 3,000-mile oil change suggestion dates back to a time when cars weren’t built as they are today. When the cars of yesteryear used oil, the process wasn’t as efficient. If motor oil was left in the crankcase for too long, it started degrading, and built up to a sludge-like mess.
Today’s cars have improved emissions regulations and more efficient engines. Even the motor oil used has more benefits in it. The motor oil is designed to keep working, and won’t break down as quickly as before. That equates into a longer time period it can remain inside the engine.
Check with your owner’s manual – a lot depends on the make and model of your vehicle. A ten-year-old Honda will be less efficient than a brand-new Mercedes. You can also chat with a reliable mechanic who can make suggestions based on the performance of your vehicle. Motor oil is the lifeblood of your car – changing it too frequently is always better than leaving it sit.
Myth #2: A spare tire is just as good as a regular tire
False. When a car manufacturer includes a spare tire in the trunk or the back of the car, it provides you with an insurance policy in case you get a flat tire while out on the road. Instead of being stuck in an unfamiliar place or by the side of the road, you can quickly change it, put the spare on, and move safely to a service station where you can get it fixed or replaced.
Spare tires are meant to be a temporary fix. Spares should be used on a back wheel for front-wheel-drive vehicles, and on a front wheel for rear-wheel-drive cars. In order to place the spare on your car, it may involve moving your tires around. Safety is key.
Whenever you use the spare, think of it as a short-term fix. It’s designed to move you to safety, giving you a chance to get to a service station, and replace it with a permanent tire.
Myth #3: Replace all four tires at the same time
This may seem like a ploy to get you to spend more money, but in some cases, it’s true.
If you drive an all-wheel-drive car, this myth is actually true. That’s because all-wheel-drive systems work the differential and the computer together, sending torque out to all four wheels for maximum control. If one tire is new and the other three are worn, it will give the computer an incorrect reading, causing the differential to overwork. If your systems aren’t working correctly, they will eventually burn out various parts. That means more repair bills down the road.
For rear-wheel or front-wheel drive vehicles, it’s not always necessary. You should evaluate the condition of your tires when you’re replacing one. It sometimes makes sense to replace them in pairs for matching size and tread. As long as you have a mechanic who provides you honest feedback, you can decide when it’s time.
Myth #4: Warranties for new cars only stay valid if you have work performed at the dealer
This happens a lot when you purchase a new car at the dealer. They spend time going through stacks of paperwork, and casually mention the warranty and the need for regular maintenance. The implications are clear – they want you to return for maintenance and repair. That’s where they make a lot of money.
If you read the fine print of a warranty, it may require servicing from time to time. While you should follow the rules of the warranty to ensure you get full coverage, where you get it serviced isn’t one of the guidelines. Just keep meticulous records for backup and support in case you have a warranty issue. That way, you can meet their stipulations.
Myth #5 Rolling down the windows instead of using the air conditioner will improve fuel economy
This myth has two parts to it. The first deals with aerodynamics. Modern cars today are designed to be aerodynamic, which means it passes through the air with a minimal amount of resistance. Designers improve their sleekness with every upgrade, and if you drive the way it’s intended, you’ll maximize fuel efficiency. Now roll down the windows. This act causes resistance, providing a catch with the way the wind rolls over it. Of course, it depends on driving speed too. Moving down the highway for miles on end will be different than running to your favorite restaurant.
The second deals with how much fuel it takes to keep the air compressor operating. When everything is in good working condition, the car is built to operate efficiently, no matter how hot or cold you prefer it in the passenger compartment. Go ahead and use the air conditioner, it won’t make much difference in your fuel economy.
Do you believe any car maintenance myths?
We know they’re out there. We often hear them as customers call in and set up their appointments.
While car maintenance myths are out there, there is an easy way to push them aside and never let them impact how well your car runs: Schedule maintenance visits from time to time.
You schedule yearly visits with your dentist and doctor. Your vehicle needs the same TLC. It’s easier to fix minor problems than to wait until they escalate into something more significant.
Schedule your maintenance visit today.