Most Americans drive cars, but haven’t the faintest idea how they work. Often we have car care axioms inherited from our parents or driving teachers that apply to cars from a generation or two ago. What are some commonly believed car care myths that simply aren’t true?
For example, you don’t really need to change your oil every 3,000 miles unless you tend to do a certain kind of driving.
Myth: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
Reality: Despite what oil companies and quick-lube shops often claim, it’s usually not necessary. Stick to the service intervals in your car’s owner’s manual. Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles are designed to go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Changing oil more often doesn’t hurt the engine, but it can cost you a lot of extra money. Automakers often recommend 3,000-mile intervals for severe driving conditions, such as constant stop-and-go driving, frequent trailer-towing, mountainous terrain, or dusty conditions.
And a run-down battery doesn’t recharge as soon as you might think after a jump-start.
Myth: After a jump-start, your car will soon recharge the battery.
Reality: It could take hours of driving to restore a battery’s full charge, especially in the winter. That’s because power accessories, such as heated seats, draw so much electricity that in some cars the alternator has little left over to recharge a run-down battery. A “load test” at a service station can determine whether the battery can still hold a charge. If so, some hours on a battery charger might be needed to revive the battery to its full potential.
For all of the myths and their subsequent busting, steer yourself over to Consumer Reports Cars.