While there are many fascinating facts about cars, there seem to be just as many, if not more, myths about them. To help you navigate the freeway of falsehoods, we’ve compiled 10 of the most prevalent, yet thoroughly debunked myths about cars.
Photo: wuratyavuz / iStock
1. Manual transmissions offer better fuel economy than automatics
Back in the day, during the infancy of automatic transmissions, this was a truth. But, after technological advances like the continually variable transmission, it’s not always the case. Also, manual transmissions are becoming rarer in the United States.
Photo: markd800 / iStock
2. Using the A/C is better for fuel economy than opening the windows
According to a 2004 study by GM and SAE, turning the A/C on (at medium power) uses more fuel than driving with the windows down. Consumer Reports also determined that A/C use leads to a "slight decrease in fuel economy," but recommended using it anyway since, “using the A/C helps keep the driver alert and more comfortable, which is safer for everyone on the road.”
Photo: kaspiic / iStock
3. If you fill your gas tank in the morning, you’ll get more for your money
Many people seem to think that, if you fill up in the morning, when the air is cooler, the gasoline will be denser and you’ll get more for your money. While it’s not the worst theory we’ve heard, it’s simply not true. According to Consumer Reports, since gasoline is stored in underground tanks, its temperature doesn’t fluctuate enough to make a noticeable difference. In other words, there’s no need to make a special trip to the pump.
Photo: g-image / iStock
4. Your non-premium car will run better on premium fuel
It’s hard not to love the word “premium,” right? Seriously, who doesn’t want something of higher quality, even if it comes at a higher price? Well, when it comes to premium fuel, leave it to those killjoys at the Federal Trade Commission to inform us that, unless it’s recommended by your owner’s manual, buying higher-octane gasoline is a waste of money. To hammer home the point, they say, “It won't make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage, or run cleaner.”
Photo: carloscastilla / iStock
5. Red cars cost more to insure/are pulled over for speeding more often
If you’ve had your heart set on an awesome red car, only to have family and friends tell you about how it’s going to cost more to insure and you’re going to get pulled over for speeding more often, you’re in luck, because they are wrong. According to Carolyn Gorman, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute and Insurance Trade Association, “there is no data to support the assertion that red cars receive more traffic tickets than cars of any other color." Gorman also said, "there are no major insurance companies that consider car color when determining your rates."
Photo: pierrephoto / iStock
6. You need to change your oil every 3,000 miles
If you want to know when you should change your oil, don’t take advice from your neighbor, your significant other or even your grandmother. Not if they are among the many people who still subscribe to the idea that you have changing your oil every 3,000 miles. It’s a myth so prevalent that it even has its own Wikipedia page. The 3,000 mile rule usually only applies to vehicles made before the ‘70’s. So, if you want to know when you really should change your oil, consult your owner’s manual.
Photo: bizoo_n / iStock
7. You should let your car warm up for several minutes before driving
No. You actually shouldn’t. Not unless you’re driving a vehicle that relies on a carburetor, something that was replaced by electronic fuel injection in the ‘80s. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs, and reduce emissions.
Photo: craigwwalker / iStock
8. Driving with the tailgate down will improve your fuel economy
While some people believe that keeping the tailgate open while driving a pickup truck improves fuel economy, since the tailgate blocks airflow and increases drag, the guys from MythBusters proved it’s simply not true. After driving identical trucks under the same conditions across the desert — one with the tailgate up and the other with it down — the tailgate-closed pickup outlasted the tailgate-down pickup by more than 30 miles. Unfortunately, the guys didn’t have time to investigate the effects of hanging things from your bumper.
Photo: ipggutenbergukltd / iStock
9. If you use your cell phone while pumping gas, it can trigger an explosion
This one reminds us about the one about how your stomach will explode if you drink a soda after consuming a bag of Pop Rocks. However, when the Federal Communications Commission investigated the rumors, it found that, “There is no documented incident where the use of a wireless phone was found to cause a fire or explosion at a gas station.” In other words, go ahead and play Candy Crush while filling up. Just don’t do it while you’re driving, because that HAS been proven to be deadly.
Photo: leeyiutung / iStock
10. Overdrive makes you go faster
Duuuude! Let’s kick this baby into overdrive! While overdrive sounds really cool, and in movies it can look really cool, all it means is that your car’s speed will be maintained with a minimum engine effort after a certain speed. Translation: overdrive just puts your car into a higher gear, and you’re going to maintain your speed. Sorry, dude.
Something that is NOT a myth is that you can get quality replacement parts for your car installed by a NAPA AutoCare Center. To learn more about NAPA AutoCare, visit NAPAAutoCare.com.