Everyone wants to get the most out of their cars. Regular car maintenance can help prevent issues before they happen, keep your car running smoothly and efficiently, and keep your car on the road for years to come.
But there are many car maintenance myths out there that will cause you to either spend money needlessly, or even damage your car. We’ve put together some of the most common myths about car maintenance, and the truths that could save you money.
7 Car Maintenance Myths
MYTH: You need to schedule an oil change every 3,000 miles.
Quick-lube shops make their profits from up-selling other services during low-cost oil changes, so they like to spread this myth to get you through the door. Frequent oil changes won’t hurt your car, but chances are your car is designed to go 6,000 miles or more between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.
MYTH: Oil additives will make your car run more smoothly.
There are plenty of oil additives advertised to help your car’s engine run more smoothly. The truth is, if you’re keeping up with regular oil changes, your engine has all the help it needs to run at its best. Oil additives are another expensive and unnecessary addition to your car maintenance schedule.
MYTH: You should flush out the coolant every time you change the oil.
We mentioned that quick-lube shops like to up sell services during an oil change, and this is one of those services. While it’s true that you should flush out your car’s coolant now and then, most cars don’t need a coolant change more than every 5 years or 60,000 miles. Be sure to check your car’s coolant levels on a regular basis, however, so you can spot leaks and prevent your car from overheating.
MYTH: Premium gas is the best choice for all cars.
Most cars are designed to run on regular grade (87 octane) fuel. Gas with a higher octane rating is used in high-compression engines and cars that run hotter than most. Putting premium grade gas in your car won’t hurt, but it won’t improve your performance either, making this an expensive myth!
MYTH: Warm up your car for at least 5-10 minutes before driving in the winter.
This car maintenance myth wasn’t always a myth, but it’s become an outdated tip. Your car does run at its best once the engine has warmed up, but it’s best to warm it up by driving. Let your car warm up gradually and don’t rev the engine to push it quickly to high speeds (60 mph+) within the first few minutes of driving. The only benefit to letting your car run in the driveway is a cozy car during your winter morning commute!
MYTH: Air conditioning will hurt your car’s fuel economy.
This car maintenance myth has been a topic of debate over the years. Should you drive with the AC on or open your windows instead? While running the air conditioning does make your engine work a little harder, studies have shown that the strain on your engine is no different than the strain caused by the aerodynamic drag from open windows. (Whoa right?!)
It comes down to your preference, but keep in mind that a comfortable driver is a more alert driver!
MYTH: You can wash your car with dish detergent.
Car wash liquid can be pricey, so many people substitute with a few squirts of dish soap instead. Bad idea! The detergents in dish soap will strip the protective wax coating from your car. This waxy coating shields your car from sunlight and debris which can stain or damage the surface of your car. Plus, they can cause dangerous streaks and film on your windshield.