5 Car Myths Beginner Drivers Should Stop Believing

Cars have been around for quite long — 135 years, to be exact. Nevertheless, there are many myths and myth-like facts that surround one of the most indispensable devices ever invented. And while many of them are simply outdated facts turned myths, practicing some of those can be harmful to your car and, ultimately, the driver. In this article, we will debunk some of the most common myths surrounding cars.

1. More expensive fuel = better performance

Contrary to popular belief, “premium” fuel is premium not because it is somehow cleaner or more efficient than regular gas. The difference is explained by the fact that different engine types need gas with different octane grades. An octane grade is a number that represents how combustible a certain gas type is, and you can find out the best gas type for your car in your owner’s manual. Paying more for premium gas would make absolutely no difference in your normal car, but it would definitely empty your wallet.

2. The bigger the car, the safer it is

The statement that comes out of this myth can be true — smaller cars are sometimes less safe, due to the combination of cheaper construction and physics. Nevertheless, that does not automatically imply that the opposite is true. The researches conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Monash University show that car weight has actually not so much in common with safety. In fact, several luxury minicars have shown better results in crash tests than full-size models thanks to their safety features. Without the safety features, the weight influence on safety pretty much evens out.

3. Warming up your car is essential in winter

Wasting fuel in the name of fuel economy sounds like a bizarre idea, and yet every winter, an average American idles their car for at least 5 minutes!  While the practice may have made more sense in the past, today it’s been proven that leaving your car idle in the cold does more harm than good. To this day, many drivers believe driving your car in the cold is at least fuel-inefficient, if not dangerous for the engine. And while it is true that some warmup helps fuel economy in very cold climates, the problem is that technical progress made this traditional winter ritual irrelevant. The engine in older cars heavily relied on a carburetor which needed to be warmed up in order to work well, but engines in most cars made after the 1990s feature electronic fuel injection. This feature alone allows the car to use its sensors to measure the temperature and adjust it for the best performance. Idling your car in winter, however, is not known to make your modern car run better — the engine will warm up faster when you start driving.

4. You have to replace all of your tires at the same time

This myth sounds logical at first, but just because you noticed your car needs a new tire, it doesn’t mean you have to pay a pretty penny to replace all of them. Just make sure the spare tire you’re going to buy is going to fit your car model and you’re good to go. While we’re at it, if you notice uneven tire wear, it may signalize that your car may need maintenance. Some of the most common reasons for uneven wear are improper alignment, unequal pressure, or problems with the suspension. It’s a good idea to check these parts of your ride every once in a while and it’s a signal to double-check if you notice uneven tire wear.

5. You should change oil every 3,000 miles

The nice-round-number that has long existed in drivers’ memory is again, a relic of the past. In the days of cheap gas, engine oil just didn’t last long and required a change every few thousand miles (for ease of memorization, the number has been rounded to 3,000). Today, however, engine oil is engineered to last for as long as possible and the number of miles you can drive without an oil change is close to 10,000. For the most accurate and unbiased information, refer to your owner’s manual.

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