Automobiles can be complicated machines. When broken down into individual parts, understanding how each thing works is something usually reserved for the mechanically- inclined and willing to learn. You’d think, however, that because we use automobiles on a daily basis, we’d do the digging ourselves and learn about how certain things operate. Or, we take the word of those who sound like they know what they’re talking about. Of course, the downside of this is that these facts—despite being generally accepted and willingly perpetuated—might very well end up being completely false.
In this article, we’ll be going over the top five common car myths and figure out the fact behind the fiction. After all, we all love a good exaggerated story, don’t we?
1. Overdrive makes you go faster
We’ve all heard the term used in movies, comic books, heck, in all aspects of pop culture. Going into overdrive or “kicking it into overdrive” usually means going to the next level - faster, meaner, better, in a sense. So what really happens when you switch your car into overdrive? The complete opposite. Overdrive is used for relaxed and efficient highway driving, where the engine exerts minimum effort to maintain speed over distance.
2. The bigger the car, the safer it is
This one should sort of make sense right? The more metal between your body and an object in an accident would mean less chance of injury or death? So people often lean towards bigger cars in order to cocoon themselves. Of course, SUVs and pickups have a high center of gravity and are prone to rollovers. Smaller, more compact sedans, especially in the premium category, have safety features and structural additions to keep occupants safe, even more so than bigger vehicles. The biggest factor is driving attitude and habits - it doesn’t matter what car you drive, you can invite accidents by being aggressive or disobeying traffic laws.
3. More expensive fuel will help performance
While premium fuels are more expensive, that doesn’t mean it’s purer or cleaner than the regular gas that you fill up with. This gas is used for particular cars that need fuel that is less combustible, but it won’t make any difference to your normal vehicle. You’ll know if your vehicle requires a certain requirement of gasoline by reading your manual. If your car’s engine requires a higher-octane level then fill up with that. If not, you’re wasting money - It won't make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage, or run cleaner.
4. Engine oil needs to be changed every 5,000 kilometers
Another case of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”, even though it won’t hurt your car if you change its oil every few months, it isn't going to make any difference either. Back when older engine oils were prone to sludge and build-up, it was a good idea to change the oil every few thousand kilometers to prevent damaging the engine. Newer oils with improved viscosities, additives, coupled with newer engines over the years, have made the intervals much longer in reality. A good ballpark figure would be 15,000-20,000 kilometers for every oil change, but you should consult your car’s owner’s manual to be absolutely sure. At the minimum, if your car doesn't travel long distances often or sits in the garage for most of the year, have its oil changed once every year to prevent buildup of broken down oil and sludge.
Funny thing is, we have ourselves partly to blame. The oil-changing businesses have been constantly reminding drivers to come back sooner rather than later, and that equals more revenue.
5. You waste more gas turning on a car than idling
Back in the day when most cars had carburettors to mix fuel and air for the engine to use, then this notion could count for something. Today? Not anymore. Thanks to fuel injection, ignition occurs without having to expend any more fuel than what is needed to keep the car idling. Want to really save on gas? If your car sits for more than 30 seconds, turn it off. Why do you think modern cars are starting to integrate “start/stop” engine technologies?