Automotive Fact-or-Fiction PDF Print E-mail

Automotive Fact-or-Fiction
By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®

Fact-or-Fiction? You should not blast your vehicle's air conditioner when sitting in traffic or while driving at more than 60 miles per hour.

Answer: Fiction. Vehicle heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are engineered and tested to operate in even the most severe types of driving environments. The air conditioner has cooling fans and a condenser that allows it to operate even under these stressful conditions, so now you can chill out.

Fact-or-Fiction? It is possible to check your tire tread with a penny.

Answer: Fact. You should use a proper tire gauge to check tire pressure, but it is possible to check tire tread with the use of a penny. Simply pinch a penny between your thumb and forefinger so Lincoln's head and "In God We Trust" are showing. Insert the penny into a tire tread groove. If the tire covers any part of Lincoln's head, then your tires should have a safe amount of tread. If you can see Lincoln's head in its entirety or any parts of "In God We Trust" are showing, it is time to invest in a new tire. Be sure to check all tires and in different locations on each tire because the amount of wear can vary from tire to tire and from inner tread to outer tread.

Fact-or-Fiction? If you still have fuel in your gas tank when you refill it, use the same grade of fuel that is currently in the tank.

Answer: Fiction. As long as you use unleaded brands of gasoline, it will not harm your vehicle if you mix different grades of fuel. Always use the grade your vehicle requires to avoid unwanted deposits in your engine.

Fact-or-Fiction? Avoid keeping your vehicle at a constant speed during the first 500 miles of a vehicle's life.

Answer: Fiction. Most new vehicles no longer require drivers to vary their speeds during the first 500 miles of a vehicle's life, known as the "break-in period." If your vehicle does require the "break-in period," then you should avoid keeping a constant speed during this time. Even varying your speed by several miles per hour should do the trick.

Fact-or-Fiction? Premium gasoline is best for your vehicle.

Answer: Fiction. If your vehicle is designed to be run on regular gasoline, then filling your tank with premium will do nothing. However, if the manufacturer suggests premium fuel for your car, then absolutely use it. It may even affect your warranty, so use what you are supposed to pump.

Fact-or-Fiction? You should always warm your car up before driving on a cold day.

Answer: Fiction. Although the majority of the driving population may consider this to be true, it can actually cause damage to vehicles if done continuously. Instead of letting your car warm up in your driveway, drive it slowly and easily the first few miles until it comes up to operating temperature.

Fact-or-Fiction? 7 coats of wax will give you the best shine.

Answer: Fiction. There is no need to apply more than one coat of wax to a car. Too much wax can leave the finish with a dull look instead of clean and shiny. When you wax a car then buff it with a cloth, you are already taking off the excess wax so why would anyone reapply a wax? That's just wasting product.

Fact-or-Fiction? Interior cleaning products will deploy air bags over time.

Answer: Fiction. When cleaning your interior and dash, there is no evidence that shows cleaning products will deploy airbags over time. However, if you use a solvent-based cleaning product or spray directly onto the airbag, it is possible that the connectors and sensors for the airbag will erode over time, just like any plastic.

Fact-or-Fiction?  You can wash your car with dish soap – it's all the same.

Answer: Fiction. You should never wash your vehicle with dish soap as it will take all the wax off your vehicle and will dull the finish. Dish soap is designed to remove grease, wax and grime from dishes. It will strip the paint and your car will need a complete wax job.

Fact-or-Fiction? Synthetic engine oil eats seals and causes leaks.

Answer: Fiction. Synthetic oil is the best way to get a longer life out of your engine and flat-out works better . It is more slippery and doesn't get as thick as regular oil in cold temperatures. It also doesn't lose it lubrication properties as it ages and sticks better to metal under higher pressures and temperatures than conventional lubricants. Synthetic oils won't void warranties, won't eat seals and gaskets and don't cause engine damage. Of course, changing your oil every 3,000-5,000 is your best choice.

Fact-or-Fiction? High-octane gas has more cleaners in it and will make more horsepower and better fuel economy.

Answer: Fiction. The proper fuel for your vehicle should be what your owner’s manual suggests. Going to a higher octane will not save you money in the long haul. The increased cost and the minimal increase in miles per gallon will be so minor that it would take 10 or more years to make your savings worth it. The regular unleaded gas will work in any newer car, but may decrease your power on high performance vehicles.



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What I like, or one of the things I like, about motoring is the sense it gives one of lighting accidentally, like a voyager who touches another planet with the tip of his toe, upon scenes which would have gone on, have always gone on, will go on, unrecorded, save for this chance glimpse. Then it seems to me I am allowed to see the heart of the world uncovered for a moment. --Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist. The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 3 (ed. by Anne O. Bell, 1980), entry for 21 Aug. 1927.

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