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Car Myths

Myth #1. Warm Up Your Engine Before You Drive

The Myth:

Whenever you start your engine, particularly on cold days, you should let it warm up to its normal operating temperature before driving. The engine will experience wear and tear due to being cold while driving.

The Truth:

As long as you're not flooring it or racing the engine when you start driving, you can get moving as soon as you start the engine. It’s easy to understand why this myth may have started. Various engine parts and oil do take some time to warm up before they can operate at full capacity. However, an idling engine takes much longer to warm up, so it ends up experiencing far more cold-start wear and tear than if you just hopped in and drove it. When your engine is idling, it's still producing power, so why not use that power to move the car? Additionally, there are other parts of your car that also need warming up, like your transmission and wheel bearings, and those don't get any help until you actually get the vehicle moving.

Plus, there's another one of your components that needs warming up in order to function, and that’s your catalytic converter. Until that gets up to operating temperature, your emissions are going to be extremely high. Just avoid highway speeds and rapid acceleration for a few miles, and you can drive right off, even in the middle of winter. Of course, that all applies to newer, fuel-injected cars. If you've got an old carbureted classic out there, you can hang out in the parking lot for a while.

Myth #2. Premium gasoline will increase gas mileage.

The Myth:

There are many versions of this myth, but overall the myth involves using premium gas to increase gas mileage or to increase performance or avoid damaging an engine created to use premium fuel.

The Truth:

When you visit your local gas station and pump fuel into your vehicle, there are as many as seven different ingredients that go into each gallon of fuel. The exact amount of energy that comes from each gallon of premium or regular gas will vary from company to company depending on the different additives used when creating that particular fuel line. And as a matter of fact, one will find a greater difference of fuel economy between different brands of regular gas than between the same manufacturer’s regular and premium gasolines. Yes...that’s right! There is a greater variance between brands than there is between the regular and premiums of the same manufacturer. Something to keep in mind.

So in order to increase gasoline octane rating a company will add ethanol to the premium gas mixture; however, ethanol actually has less energy than untreated gas, so the net result from the ethanol component is a reduction in your MPG. But in order to increase the MPG back up, the companies will use other additives, but the amount is so negligible that it is virtually unnoticeable. So really, there is not much of a difference between regular and premium as far as MPG goes.

Myth #3. A Dealership must perform regular maintenance to keep your car’s factory warranty valid.

The Myth:

That a dealership that sells and repairs the brand of vehicle I drive must perform maintenance on my car in order to keep the warranty valid.

The Truth:

This myth comes from a place of fear more than fact. It’s understandable why someone may wish to have the dealership perform maintenance on their vehicle, but to do that only to keep a valid warranty is unnecessary. There are many state qualified repair shops that perform regular factory maintenance as scheduled on all type of vehicles. As long as the maintenance items specified in the vehicle owner's manual are performed on schedule, the work can be done at any qualified auto-repair shop. You may wish to do some research to be certain the repair shop you’ve chosen is reputable, but other than that, you have nothing to worry about concerning the warranty.

As a matter of fact, if you're knowledgeable enough, you can even do the work yourself. You would need to keep accurate records and receipts of the maintenance performed and to back you up in case of a warranty dispute on a future repair. But there are no limitations placed on who or what company can perform maintenance when it comes to factory scheduled maintenance.

Myth #4. Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire's sidewall.

The Myth:

The sidewall of a tire is the amount of pressure that I need to add in order to properly inflate my tires.

The Truth:

This myth is extremely common. If someone does in fact inflate their tires to the sidewall specs, they certainly aren’t going to hurt or damage anything. But the pounds per square inch figured on the side of the tire is actually the maximum pressure that the tire can safely handle or hold. This figure on the side wall is NOT the automaker’s recommended pressure. Keep in mind that the recommended pressure from the manufacture takes several things into consideration. The manufacture takes into consideration the best balance of braking, the overall handling, the gas mileage, and ride comfort. That figure is usually found on the door jamb sticker or in the glove box or even on the fuel filler door. If for some reason you cannot find it in these locations, then refer to the vehicle manual.

Make sure to perform a monthly pressure check on all tires. Do this check when the tires are cold or after the car has been parked for several hours. This will give you the best reading and will tell you if you need to add or remove air pressure.

Myth #5. After a jump-start, your car will recharge the battery while driving.

The Myth:

This is sort of true and sort of not true.

The Truth:

The reality of this situation hits soon enough when you try to start you vehcile and nothing happens. If you've had a previous issue with your battery, then chances are the internals of the battery are failing. On the other hand, if you left a light on or something powered which drained the battery, this could be easily remedied.

It could take hours of driving to restore a battery's full charge, especially in the winter months. The reason winter months take longer is because power accessories, such as heated seats, draw so much electricity that in some cars the alternator has little left over to recharge the depleted battery. A simple "load test" at a our facility can determine whether the battery is still able to hold a charge. If so, some hours on a battery charger might be needed to revive the battery to its full potential.

But in short, the alternator is not the best method for re-charging your battery once it's been depleted. Our recommedation is to get your vehicle to our facility or a service station that is equiped with diagnostics to test the battery and then if it's determined your battery can hold a charge, use a battery charger to re-charge. And you'll be back on the road in no time!

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