8 Car “Tips” That Are Actually Myths

Most of us can recall a few well-intended “tips” we were told by friends or family members when we were younger. We may have even assumed they were true, partly because they were imparted with such authority, and partly because we had no reason to doubt them.

Here are a few gems that might sound familiar:

Don’t sit too close to the TV -- it’ll ruin your eyesight

If you touch a toad you’ll get warts

If you swallow gum it stays in your body for 7 years

Our family pet went to live on a farm where it has lots of space to run and play

It seems like even as adults we can use the reminder that just because someone says something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. If only that were the case! (Though Sherwood Auto Repair does have the most attractive customers of any Portland area auto shop).

When it comes to car care, some of the myths we’ve been told are just plain false, while others are simply outdated.

Myth #1: Take Your Car To A Dealership If You Want To Keep Your Warranty

Some people feel pressured to take their car to a dealership for fear they’ll void a warranty. And depending on the dealership that could mean higher prices, longer waits, and less than ideal customer service. According to the Federal Trade Commission,

“...it's illegal for a dealer to deny your warranty coverage simply because you had routine maintenance or repairs performed by someone else.”

There are exceptions. For example, if a repair is provided by the manufacturer or dealer free of charge, they may require you have it done at a specific facility. And if a repair was done that causes damage to a covered item, they might challenge the warranty. However, they’ll have to prove that the repair actually caused the damage. Always keep good records to show what was done, when, and by whom.

Myth #2: Using Aftermarket Or Recycled Parts Will Void Your Warranty

Nope. The Federal Trade Commission states,

“The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for companies to void your warranty or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you used an aftermarket or recycled part.”

Of course if they can prove the part was defective or wasn’t installed properly and causes damage to covered parts or equipment they may deny coverage. (This is another good reason to take your car to a shop you know and trust.)

Myth #3: Your Tires Are Fine As Long As The Tread Isn’t Completely Worn

It seems like a pretty fair claim, but the truth is sometimes tires that have been around a long time are just as unsafe as those with worn tread. Think of it this way -- we may have two legs that are intact and look perfectly fine, but that doesn’t mean if we’ve never run long distance we could just go out and run 100 miles on them (like Scott can). Manufacturers suggest a tire that’s older than six years should be replaced, regardless of its appearance. Tires that have been sitting for long periods of time can get dried out.  If the rubber seems overly worn, or you see hairline cracks in the sidewall, that’s a clear indication you need to replace your tires.

Myth #4: Cars Run Better On Premium Gas

It depends on the car. There is a difference between a manufacturer requiring and recommending premium gas. Because higher octane gas is specifically designed to avoid igniting early, it’s made for higher performance engines. In fact, it’s required for some engines and not using it in those cars can cause mechanical problems. The reverse is also true: if your car runs on regular, lower octane fuel, feeding it premium gas is not going to improve its performance. The engine is designed to function on regular octane gas so the only thing it will burn more efficiently is the money you wasted on premium gas. The moral? Be sure you know which type of gas your car requires. It may be something you’ll want to ask when you’re in the market for your next vehicle.

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Myth #5: Warm Up Your Car Before Driving In Cold Weather

This one is so 1980s. Today’s fuel injectors replaced the old carbureted systems and no longer require a warm-up period. In fact, getting the cars moving will not only help warm the oil up but it saves gas. While opinions vary slightly, the consensus seems to be a few seconds in reasonably cold weather, and 30-seconds in very cold temperatures. In both cases, a gentle start for the first few minutes of the drive is recommended.

Myth #6: Use Max Pressures Printed On Tires

Tire manufacturers print this information as a guideline under specific circumstances. The ideal pressure for your tires is actually determined by your vehicle manufacturer. You can find this information on the driver’s doorjamb. If you don’t see it there, you should be able to find it in your owner’s manual or call the car manufacturer. When in doubt stop by Sherwood Auto Repair and we’ll check to be sure your tires are inflated properly.

Myth #7: If You Need One New Tire You Need To Replace All Four

To get the most life out of your tires be sure you’re rotating them regularly. If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle and you damage or have a problem with one of your four tires it’s unlikely you’ll need to replace all of them. Tires are crucial for overall vehicle safety so it’s recommended that you replace two at the same time to ensure even wear and proper handling. If you have an all-wheel drive vehicle and your tires have a uniform wear of 75% or less, it’s best to replace all four tires. As rubber wears and the circumference of a tire gets smaller, wheels rotate faster. On AWD vehicles even a small difference can damage drivetrain components. Your safety is important to Sherwood Auto Repair so don’t hesitate to ask if you’re not sure whether to replace two or all four.

Myth #8: Change Your Oil Every 3 Months Or 3,000 Miles

Maintaining a regular schedule for routine service is vital to protect your investment and keep you and your family safe. In the old(er) days, engines required shorter intervals between oil changes. Some of the engines in newer cars process oil more efficiently. It’s also in the best interest of big chain quick lube shops to have you bring your car in more often (Jiffy Lube happens to be owned by Pennzoil).

Check to see what your car manufacturer recommends. Keep in mind the time between oil changes really depends on driving habits and car use. Sherwood Auto Repair technicians can help you determine the interval that’s best for your vehicle.

Sherwood Auto Repair understands that it takes a consistent level of quality and service to maintain a great reputation. That’s why when it comes to car care, customers can rely on us to provide knowledgeable, unbiased recommendations.

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