Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Car Care Myths Exposed

Knowledge may be power, but that's only the case if you put what you know into good use. Sure it's a common phrase that can be used in many different situations, but when applying it to car care, weeding through the myths can result in financial savings and longer vehicle life.

Myth: My car's motor oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
It is recommended that vehicle owners follow their manufacturer's maintenance intervals while it is still under warranty. However if your car is no longer under warranty, try using a synthetic oil that can extend your oil change intervals. There are a number of quality synthetic motor oils you can choose from. Most lubricant manufacturers will offer a recommended number of miles you can drive between oil changes under normal conditions. The number of mile you can allow between your oil changes will depend on the way you drive and the oxidation stability (life of the oil) of the motor oil.

Myth: Does using a higher octane fuel mean better performance?
When you pull up to the gas pump, you typically have three choices: Regular, Mid-grade and Premium. Does selecting the higher octane mean you're getting a more superior product? No. Octane numbers reflect if the fuel is less prone to problems with pre-ignition. Using fuel of an octane rating higher than that of the manufacturer's recommendation will not increase your car's performance, lower exhaust emissions or increase your engine/fuel system life. Usually only vehicle with high performance engines require a higher-octane fuel.

Myth: A dealership must handle all maintenance on my vehicle while under warranty.
The key to maintaining your factory warranty is that car care items specified in the owner's manual are performed on schedule. As long as the service is documented, it can be performed by any auto-repair shop. You can also do the work yourself; just make sure you keep accurate records and receipts in case warranty issues arise and for future repair.

Myth: My car engine needs to warm up before driving.
During winter months, it is a common practice for divers to warm their vehicles outside, but a cold engine will warm up faster when it is being driven instead of idling. If you use your car infrequently, take a few minutes to warm your car before you drive away. This allows cold and thick oil to warm up, protecting your engine from damage. For cold weather starts, all you need is 30 seconds to insure proper oil flow and lubrication. In the event of frigid temperatures, driving at a slower speed for a few miles will give your car enough time to warm up. Older vehicles may need a little bit more time to warm up, but do so just long enough to prevent your car from stalling.

Myth: Your tires should be inflated to the pressure on the tire sidewall
Because of the wide variety of tires on the market today, tires can be used on more than one vehicle, so inflating your tires based on the PSI number on the sidewall may not be ideal for your specific vehicle. Car owners should follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cold weather and normal conditions tire pressure. That number can be found on a doorjamb sticker in newer cars, or in the glove box or fuel door on older models. Driving with the correct tire pressure will also help optimize tire performance and fuel economy.

Myth: Are dish washing detergents suitable for washing my car?
It is common for people to use dish detergents to wash your car, but do so with some warning. Dish detergents are designed to remove animal or vegetable fat and will equally target the was on your car. Instead, opt for a product specifically for automotive use. Quality products are based on detergents and not soaps which are made of rendered animal byproduct that contain trace elements that could damage your paint.

Do you have additional car care myths you can debunk? If so, add your comment below!

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