10 Car Myths Debunked
1. Red cars get more tickets
The simple fact of the matter is that your speed is what will get caught — not the pigment of your pinto. The police are trained to spot fast cars, and their radar guns can’t tell the difference between red, orange or jalapeno green. So if you’ve had your eye on a little cherry red number, have no fear! Just remember to drive the speed limit.
2. Changing your own oil will save you money
Believe it or not, a quick DIY isn’t always the cheapest oil change option. Be sure to check your local tune-and-lube or dealership for ongoing promotions that can be far more cost effective than doing it yourself. This can include oil/filter change combos that usually cost less than the price of a regular oil change.
3. You get more gas when you fill up in the morning
The logic behind this myth is that gasoline is denser at cool temperatures. So filling up in the cooler morning hours should give you more fuel per gallon pumped. The truth, however, is that gasoline is stored in underground tanks, where temperatures — and density — hardly ever change. So feel free to fill up whenever you want, knowing you’ll be getting just as much bang for your buck, night or day.
4. Off-brand gas is bad for your car
While you might be used to filling up at big brand gas stands, there’s nothing wrong with the cheaper “mom and pop” station across the street. All commercially sold gasoline must meet strict industry standards, and the EPA requires all gasoline to contain engine-cleaning additives.
5. Premium gas makes your non-premium car run better/faster
Premium gasoline isn’t any cleaner or efficient than the regular stuff, just less combustible. And while this makes a difference in more powerful engines, it doesn’t do a thing for your Honda Civic. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “using a higher-octane gasoline than your owner’s manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit.”
6. Driving your pickup with the tailgate down is more fuel-efficient
Driving with the tailgate down actually decreases fuel efficiency by increasing drag. Keeping your tailgate closed when you drive, however, creates a vortex in the bed of your truck, which allows for smoother airflow than when the tailgate is down. Having a hard-cover top on your pickup is also a fuel efficient option.
7. Bigger cars are safer
The modern compact car is not the “deathtrap” it once was, and boasts many safety features like front and side impact airbags; side impact door beams; front and rear crumple zones; and safety features like stability and traction control. This all makes for a safer drive on wet or icy roads. SUVs, on the other hand, tend to have wobbly handling and a higher rollover-prone center of gravity than their smaller sedan counterparts. When it comes to safety, “bigger” doesn’t always mean “better.”
8. Manual transmission is more fuel-efficient than automatic
This may have been true, once upon a time, but modern science is marvelous. Advances in technology — like continuously variable transmission — put automatics on par with manuals, and sometimes even puts them ahead.
9. Dish soap makes a good car wash
If you think about what dish soap was designed to do — cut grease with abrasives — then the choice to not use it on your car becomes a no-brainer. Using dish soap will scratch the paint of your car little by little, dulling it over time. Next time you wash your car, consider buying soap specifically designed for the job.
10. Jet fuel makes cars go faster
As ridiculous as this myth might sound it’s actually quite a commonly held belief. I mean, jets are fast, so jet fuel should make your car go fast too, right? Wrong! If you fill your car with jet fuel, you won’t find yourself flying through the air or flying down the road — in fact, you won’t find yourself flying anywhere! A car can’t combust jet fuel and your engine will just simply stall, leaving you stranded.