There’s a lot of advice out there about how to care for your car. Some of it’s good, but a lot of it’s bad and outdated. When everybody seems to have an opinion on car maintenance, how do you know what to do?
Let’s clear up some of the biggest myths of car maintenance. You want your car to run smoothly and efficiently, so it’s time to cut through the cloud of misinformation. Here are six common myths of car maintenance, and the truth behind them. Let the myth-busting begin!
MYTH #1: If the brake fluid is low, topping it off will fix the problem.
Brake fluid is different from most other fluids in your car. It doesn’t get used up as you drive. Brake fluid is used to increase the hydraulic pressure of your breaks. As brake pads wear out, the fluid level drops.
Low brake fluid usually means one of two things:
- The brake pads are very low and worn out
- There’s fluid leaking in the system
Either way, it’s important to get your brake system serviced right away.
THE TRUTH: The car needs maintenance. Filling up the brake fluid won’t do much good.
MYTH #2: Flush the coolant with every oil change
Not necessary! Radiator coolant does not need to be replaced nearly as often as oil. In fact, by replacing it more often you only increase maintenance costs.
THE TRUTH: Most car manufacturers recommend changing the coolant after the first 60,000 miles, then every 30,000 miles after that.
If you do notice your coolant is constantly running low, bring it into a shop to have it checked for leaks.
MYTH #3: Let the car engine warm up before driving
Many drivers have been advised to let the car engine “warm up” by sitting idle for a few minutes before driving. In the past, this might have been good advice. However, modern engines warm up more quickly when they’re in use.
THE TRUTH: Modern cars warm up more quickly when they’re driven not when they’re sitting idle.
The sooner a car is warmed up, the sooner it can reach its highest efficiency and performance.
MYTH #4: Change your oil every 3,000 miles
An oil change every 3,000 miles has been the rule of thumb for ages, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct. Modern vehicles tend to run a lot longer between oil changes. In fact, many cars can operate for up to 7,500 miles between oil changes.
The best thing to do is to check your owner’s manual for the suggested service interval for your specific vehicle. However, also consider how often you use your car.
If you car experiences these conditions, be sure to change your oil more frequently:
- Severe use
- Stop-and-go traffic
- Rough terrain
THE TRUTH: The “3,000 Mile Rule” no longer applies. Consult your owner’s manual and consider how you use your car.
MYTH #5: Replacing a dirty air filter can improve efficiency
We’re all looking for ways to help our cars drive more efficiently. However, replacing a dirty air filter is not effective.
You won’t get better gas mileage by changing a clogged air filter. Unless your car is from the 1980s, you won’t experience the benefits that carbureted engines do. Modern vehicles are fuel-injected and have computer-controlled gas engines.
THE TRUTH: Changing the air filter may improve acceleration, but not much else.
MYTH #6: You can “eyeball” your tire pressure
You may think you can tell when the tire pressure is too low or too high just by looking, but can you really? Is it worth risking a blowout or a flat? We think not.
The truth is, it’s not always possible to gauge tire pressure visually. Even if you think you can, getting an exact measurement has a lot of value. Keeping your tire pressure is at the optimum level can have a measurable effect on your car, including:
- Gas mileage
THE TRUTH: Don’t trust your eyes. Use a tire gauge to check your tire pressure and inflate regularly.
Pro Tip: The number on the side of the tire is the maximum amount of pressure to be used, not the best amount. To find the best amount, check the information from the car manufacturer.
Care For Your Car The Right Way
Don’t be fooled by old car maintenance myths. Learn to take care of your car the right way, and your car will function at its peak performance. That way you can enjoy your vehicle for years to come.
If you’re in the Springfield, Scappoose or Tigard areas, drop by store for all your car service needs. Our friendly staff are experts in car maintenance. We’re happy to help clear up any questions you may have about how to care for your car. No appointment needed!