When we first get our driver’s license, we start getting bombarded with advice on how to take care of our car. Well-meaning parents, grandparents, and friends tell us what we need to do to avoid having any issues with our first vehicles. These words of wisdom usually include when to change your oil, when to fill up on fuel, where to go for maintenance, etc. etc. Some of this common advice is accurate and helpful, but some of these tips are not. Here is a list of some of the most common myths about car maintenance that you need to stop believing.
Myth #1 – Your oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles.
3,000 miles used to be how long a vehicle could go between oil changes. Modern vehicles, however, can go much longer before needing an oil change. Superior engine design and better synthetic oils now exist, allowing your car to drive more miles before you need to change the oil. If your car was made within the last decade or so, it will likely require an oil change every 5,000 to 7,500 miles under normal driving conditions. This, of course, depends on the manufacturer and where you are driving. If you live in mountainous or dusty areas, frequently tow trailers, or do a lot of stop-and-go driving, then it’s a good idea to stick to the traditional 3,000 miles rule. Otherwise, you should follow the advice in the owner’s manual to know how often you should be changing the oil.
Myth #2 – Your vehicle needs a transmission flush every 50,000 miles.
This car maintenance myth is less common than the first, but many people will argue that you are supposed to flush the transmission every 50,000 miles. However, modern vehicles typically now use “long life” transmission fluid, which is designed to last for 100,000 miles or even the lifespan of the vehicle. Because this varies from vehicle to vehicle, it’s best to check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation on how long your vehicle can go before needing a transmission flush.
Myth #3 – You should inflate your tires to the pressure shown on the sidewalls.
Contrary to popular belief, the psi figure embossed on your tire sidewalls is not the recommended ideal tire pressure. This number tells you the maximum pressure the tire can safely hold. Instead of looking at this figure for guidance, look instead for your manufacturer’s recommendation. Many cars have a sticker on the driver’s doorjamb or inside the fuel door that tells you what tire pressure the manufacturer has determined will provide the best balance, handling, and fuel economy for the vehicle. If you inflate the tires to maximum pressure, they may wear out unevenly and need to be replaced much sooner.
Myth #4 – If you puncture a tire, you need to replace it with a new one.
Some drivers believe the car maintenance myth that a tire is ruined when it gets a nail stuck in it. However, most reputable tire shops are able to repair tire leaks and punctures so that you don’t have to purchase a new tire before it has reached the end of its life. This patch job will typically be much less expensive than a new tire, and some tire shops may even include these patch jobs for free if you purchased the tire from them. Getting your punctured tire repaired instead of replacing it can save you a lot of money on tires over the years.
Myth #5 – If one tire needs replacing, you need to buy four new tires.
If a tire is worn down or damaged beyond repair, then it will need to be replaced. Some people think that when one of their tires needs replacing they need to buy a whole set of four new tires. If the rest of your tires still have more life left in them, then you don’t need to replace them all yet. Instead of buying four new tires, you can often get by with only buying two and continuing to use the other two until they reach the end of their life. Replacing two tires instead of just the one damaged tire will allow for more even wear so that your car will be more balanced and ride smoothly.
Myth #6 – Premium fuel is better for your vehicle than regular-grade fuel.
This is an expensive car care myth. The word “premium” and the higher price make people assume that this grade of fuel must be better for their car than regular grade. In reality, though, filling your regular vehicle with premium fuel won’t improve its performance. Only certain vehicles require higher fuel grades. Premium is a higher octane fuel that includes cleaners and protectants to keep hotter-running, high-compression engines (i.e., turbo-charged engines) in better shape. So, unless you have a sports car or other high-performance vehicle, you won’t benefit from splurging on premium.
Myth #7 – You need to let your engine warm up for several minutes before you can drive.
This was probably good car care advice back in the day, but with today’s cars this is no longer necessary. Modern engines warm up more quickly when they are being driven, not when they are idling in your driveway. Instead of letting your vehicle idle for 10 minutes on cold mornings, it’s best to just get in, start the car, and start driving. The engine will warm up sooner after it gets going, and the sooner it warms up, the sooner it reaches maximum efficiency and fuel economy. Make sure you avoid revving the engine during the first few miles before it’s warmed up, though.
Myth #8 – You can wash your car with dish soap or laundry detergent to save money.
Someone may have told you that they found a great life hack to save money on car care: use dish soap or laundry detergent to wash your car. This might sound like a convenient way to save money, but it’s not something you should ever do. When you wash your car with one of these other soaps, you will strip off your vehicle’s wax finish, making it easier for the paint to chip and reveal rust spots. It is best to pay a little bit more for carwash liquid, which is formulated to clean your vehicle without removing the protective wax.
Myth #9 – Your battery will recharge after a jump start once you drive around.
When your battery dies, a jump start can give it enough juice to allow you to make it back home. Because a jump start is just a quick fix, your battery will still be mostly dead and need to recharge before being able to start your engine again. A common vehicle maintenance misconception is that the battery will recharge after you drive around for a little bit. However, the power it takes to use the lights, radio, and other accessories draw most of the power from the alternator, which leaves little left to recharge the battery. To bring your battery back to a full charge, you’d need to drive around for several hours, not several minutes. You can also recharge your battery on a battery charger for a few hours to get it back to a full charge.
Myth #10 – You need to do maintenance at the dealership or else your warranty will become void.
One of the most widespread car care myths is that servicing your vehicle anywhere other than the dealership will void your warranty. Dealerships obviously prefer that you come to them for your scheduled maintenance—and if they offer complementary oil changes, then by all means you should take them up on that. However, your warranty will not become void if you go to a less expensive auto repair shop for maintenance or even do it yourself. Any maintenance covered by your vehicle warranty can be done by any auto repair shop. All you need to do is save your receipts to prove what was done and how much it cost. The only time you must take your vehicle to the dealer is for recall work.
Vehicle Maintenance with a Knowledgeable and Experienced Knoxville Mechanic
When you take good care of your vehicle, your vehicle will be able to reliably get you where you need to go for many years. Part of good vehicle care is bringing it to a mechanic for routine maintenance. During a regular vehicle maintenance visit, an expert mechanic will check your vehicle, engine, and its components for anything that has the potential to become a problem. This way, any issues can be found and fixed before they can leave you broken down on the side of the highway. To keep your vehicle operating safely and efficiently, bring it to Certified Diesel Solutions. We offer routine maintenance on both automobiles and diesels. Our highly trained mechanics have all the knowledge and experience necessary to find and repair any problem your vehicle could have before it can become a major issue. Schedule routine maintenance with the best mechanic in Knoxville, TN, today. Give us a call at 865-964-6598 or contact us online to schedule service.