Leaving the auto dealership in a brand-new car is an exhilarating feeling. Finding your dream car and making it yours releases the same pheromones that make you feel like walking on air while you’re falling in love.
Given the deep bond we experience with our cars, it’s no surprise that you will want to bring your car back to the auto dealer on a regular basis for checkups and maintenance; you want it to stay in pristine shape for as long as possible. If the auto dealership offered you a maintenance plan on your car that entitles you to free service, by all means take advantage of it! However, if the maintenance that you are providing for your car is coming out of your pocket, here are a few myths that could be costing you extra cash:
- Myth: Your car needs an oil change every 3,000 miles.
Errrrr. Wrong answer. Developments in both the refinement of oil, and the way a car processes it, makes this 3,000 mile rule obsolete. Of course, the lube shops that are profiting from your frequent visits are not going to tell you that. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended oil change routine for its make and model. Generally, if your vehicle was made in your lifetime, you can probably go about 7,500 miles between oil changes.
- Myth: Your tires should be inflated to match the pressure suggested on the sidewall.
Incorrecto. The number that you see on the side of the tire actually indicates the maximum PSI that the tire can safely hold. The tire pressure that is ideal for your car depends on the way its brake design, its intended purpose (all-terrain vs. high speed vs. standard stop and go), and its weight. These factors are determined by the car, not the tire. To get the smoothest ride and best gas mileage for your particular car, look at the PSI recommendation on the sticker found inside of the driver’s doorjamb or glove box.
- Myth: Using premium gas will improve gas mileage, make your car last longer, give it the power of telepathy, or whatever.
False. Premium gas is usually about $.20 per gallon more than regular-grade 87 octane fuel. While it doesn’t hurt your car, spending that much more per gallon is going to hurt your wallet, and does not actually provide any benefit to most cars.
High octane gas simply runs at a higher temperature, which needed for high-compression (turbo charged) engines. If your car is a “premium only” type of vehicle, you probably already know it– otherwise, your owner’s manual or auto dealer can tell you for sure. Unless you are in this small demographic of car owners, save yourself the cash and stick with that regular fuel.
- Myth: Dish washing soap or laundry detergent is a great cleaner for your car.
This factoid actually gets a negative score for its validity. Using household detergents that are designed to cut grease and grime actually breaks down the wax sealant on your car, and eventually make the color fade. Shelling out the extra dough for a cleaning liquid specifically for washing cars is worth it, since it saves you the cash of fixing your paint job down the road.
- Myth: Your alternator can recharge your battery in a few minutes after being jumped.
Nope. Consider this: it takes a tiny smart phone one hour and 50 minutes to recharge itself. Your vehicle uses so much more battery power to function than a smart phone. It can take your alternator several hours to fully recharge; if you turn your car off before it at least has charged enough to start it self again, you’ll be left having to jump it again (or worse, incorrectly assume your battery is toast and replace it altogether!).
Insider tip: If your battery dies again immediately after jumping, and you aren’t sure if you just didn’t give it enough time to charge or if you need a new battery, you can take it to most auto parts store and have it load tested. This will tell you if your battery can hold a charge and just needs to be run for it longer.
Do you know of any other car maintenance myths? Please do share in the comment section below!