What You Know About Car Care Is Probably Wrong

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.

Car care: Myths vs. reality [Consumer Reports Cars]

(Photo: BunnyStudios)

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  1. PunditGuy says:

    Oil change mileage suggestions are inversely proportional to engagement ring spending recommendations. I remember when oil changes were suggested every 7500 miles, then 6000, then 5000, and now 3000. I remember when engagement rings were 1 month’s salary, and then they were suddenly 2 months’ worth. Do marketers think we’re not paying attention?

    • Elcheecho says:

      @PunditGuy: i’m pretty sure i’ve always been told 3 months worth. but yeah. lame.

    • Beef Supreme says:

      @PunditGuy:

      If you change you car over to full synthetic when it is new, you can easily exceed 7500 miles per oil change..

    • milk says:

      @PunditGuy: I just bought a 2010 Mazda3, and the manual says if you drive predominantly highway miles change the oil every 7500. City driving needs every 5000, and that’s with non-synthetic oil.

      • ohiomensch says:

        @me and the sysop: +1 on the Mazda 3 purchase. I have been using full synthetic since I bought mine in 2005, change between 7-8K miles and have basically only had to do “maintenance” repairs in 130,000 miles. Great Little Car – underestimated IMO.

    • Green Goth Brit Chick - AlternatEve says:

      @PunditGuy: I got to choose my own engagement ring (fiance knows what I like but was hopeless with sizing), and ughh, the amount of people who tried to sell me on the whole “expensive is better!” thing drove me nuts.

      • ohenry says:

        @Green Goth Brit Chick – AlternatEve: When I was picking out my wife’s ring, I stole her class ring (we’re both young, so it was still the right size as when she got it in high school) for the day I went to buy it.

        But had it not been for that, I would have been lost. I thought of trying to use the “wrap a string around your finger” method while she was sleeping, but I am not coordinated enough.

    • clementine says:

      @PunditGuy: I recently got engaged and disregarded that whole how many months salary thing for my engagement ring. It isn’t traditional in my family to have engagement rings so I never grew up with the dream of a diamond so when I looked, I went to the James Avery site since I had always loved their designs and picked out a nice silver ring with heart and two flowers on it. It’s the thought that counts and since his last name is Flowers, it makes it all that sweeter. I think the price was $45.00.

  2. diasdiem says:

    Myth: Adding Speed Holes will not make your car go faster.

  3. jpmoney says:

    I drive a car with a Rotary engine, so #1 and #5 are true for me. I would love to get 5000 (or even the 7500 in the owner’s manual) miles out of an oil change, but by design I burn about a quart of oil every 1000 miles. I’d be bone dry if I waited that long. Oil filers can of course wait and I can add as needed, which I do.

    Otherwise, a nice list.

    I’m glad they didn’t mention that my favorite axiom “a red-line a day keeps the mechanic away” is not in fact a myth :).

    • Saboth says:

      @jpmoney:

      I recall when I had an RX8…I think my oil consumption wasn’t as bad as most people’s. I was using maybe 1 quart every 3,000 miles. That car had a really bad electrical drain problem though. I left it sitting for about a week one winter and it was completely dead. This happened about 2-3 times and I only had the car about a year. I ended up just replacing the battery, then deciding I wanted something that got better than 15-16 mpg.

    • Jeff-er-ee says:

      @jpmoney: Sounds like the old joke that us rice-rocket riders had about Harley Davidsons…you didn’t have to change the oil because the bike changed it for you.

    • Froggmann says:

      @jpmoney: Rotary? Redline? Oh you mean the point just before the clutch shatters ok carry on.

    • clocker says:

      @jpmoney: “By design” your car should be using a quart every three thousand miles.
      Your motor is probably getting worn and burning more than it should.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @clocker:

      It’s a rotary. They are designed to burn oil, at about a quart per thousand miles. It’s a consequence of having the entire “block” essentially be part of the combustion chamber.

      [www.aaroncake.net]

      Rotaries are an exception to many, many rules.

      Oh, and the redline thing is correct too…not just for rotaries (it’s just MANDATORY for them…they won’t get proper lubrication if they aren’t run hard) but for piston-engines, too. You should rev the engine up to …maybe not redline, but around 3/4s of that or so every so often. Keep the RPMs really low all the time and you’re going to get carbon buildups.

      • wvFrugan says:

        @TechnoDestructo:
        I hate to agree with you but you are correct that cars need to be run hard a bit. I’m a slow ass careful driver that only drives like 75 miles a month. I’ve been having all sorts of emissions problems setting off my check engine light and causing some runability issues. After multiple repairs (sensors, EGR parts, cleaning carbon buildup from intake ports, cats, etc.)the light would come back on after a couple hundred miles. My 20 year old foster son moved back home a couple weeks ago and has been driving my car. After 500 miles of his lead foot the check engine light has gone off and it no longer has any trouble codes!

      • clocker says:

        @TechnoDestructo: My daily driver is a ’91 NA so I’m familiar with how they are supposed to work.
        The engine uses 1 quart per 3000 miles via injection from the OMP, using more than this indicates a failure of oil control rings or seals or possibly a maladjusted OMP linkage if it’s a S4. If your car is turboed, the turbo may be burning oil as well.

      • Daveinva says:

        @TechnoDestructo: What’s funny is how many people I know who have manual transmissions are afraid of the redline.*

        Yes, keeping your car in the right gear at low RPM is better for gas mileage.

        No, coming close to the redline in your car won’t actually destroy your car, and in fact will enable the car to drive better, as you’re actually going to be operating in peak torque for the gear.

        *Full disclosure: *I* was one of these people when I first started driving a stick. Then I realized that, hey, the redline is there for a reason, as in: everything *below* the redline is there for you to use, dummy.

        • theblackdog says:

          @Daveinva: At least you can see where your redline is. Unfortunately my car did not come with a tach, so I would have to guess how high I could go based on the engine sounds.

          Still, I must drive it plenty hard, haven’t had major carbon buildup to the point of screwing up emissions.

        • TechnoDestructo says:

          @Shadowman615:

          I dunno, I think a robust CVT in a lightweight low powered car, and complete control over the “gear” ratio could be a lot of fun.

          Too bad no one’s made such a car.

    • TopcatF14B says:

      @jpmoney: There is a certain amount of oil you are supposed to mix in with a tank of gas as well, I would research that…I forgot the name of the oil you are supposed to put in but if you would like me to find out toss me a PM.

  4. Jeff-er-ee says:

    What I remember hearing is that the oil will last 7,500 miles just fine, but the filter is clogged after 2,000. Heard that from some fairly reputable sources too (not filter manufacturers or repair shops). They recommended that you leave the oil in, but change the filter every 3k or so, adding a quart when you do.

    Of course, I’ve never done that…

    • GitEmSteveDave_FeelsLikeABurningAngel says:

      @Jeff-er-ee: Even if a filter gets clogged, most are designed to then bypaass the screens, and “flow-thru”.

    • Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

      @Jeff-er-ee: That’s the issue. The oil might be good for 7500 miles, but the filter isn’t.

      • lpranal says:

        @☠Grяrяrяrяrя, portrait of a chickenwolfmoosepig.: remember though, just as not all oil is created equal, not all filters are. Full synthetic is worth it. In my experience purolators are the best (reasonably priced) oil filters, Delco are excellent as well. Lots of people, myself included, have had bad luck with fram filters.

        • mac-phisto says:

          @lpranal: fram is the one filter that my manufacturer (toyota) literally says DO NOT USE!!1!

          i like the purolators. probably b/c advanced is always running a purolator + oil sale.

          • lpranal says:

            @mac-phisto: back in my tuner days when I drove a turbo’d car, I was really anal about oil and filters of all kinds… did a lot of research on filter efficiency and whatnot, and they were always near the top, just below the “rich people” oil filters like redline and mobil 1.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Jeff-er-ee: you bring up a great point, & that’s why the best answer to “how often do i have to change my oil?” is “when your car tells you to!”

      too many people get an oil change & think they’re good for some set amount of time or mileage. a much better idea is to check your oil frequently, like when you pull in for a fuel fill-up.

      2 things you’re looking for: 1) that there’s oil in your engine, 2) that the oil is still in good shape (meaning your filter is still doing its job). it should be a golden color to dark brown. if it’s dark black & dirty, it’s time for a change.

  5. diasdiem says:

    Myth: Calvin Peeing on Decals are clever.

  6. diasdiem says:

    Myth: Spinners on your tires make you look cool.

  7. SarcasticDwarf says:

    Engines don’t need to warm up? That might hold true in Florida, but in the colder climates where sub-zero temperatures are common I think it is still required. I for one would rather waste a dollar in gas by letting it run for 10 minutes in the morning.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: I end up letting my car run for a few minutes solely to get the heat running and the windows defrosted. Though my new car actually has a functioning heating system, so my 10-minute sessions just to get the thing street-legal are no more.

      • tbax929 says:

        @Laura Northrup:
        Auto-Start for the win. I don’t use it to heat up the car (I live in Southern AZ), but I do use it to cool down the car. I don’t know how I lived without it before!

    • Jon34511 says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: From what I’ve always come to understand, the best method (even in really cold climates) is to start the engine, wait 30 seconds, and then drive away. Doing your method only warms up the engine and doesn’t allow the transmission or differential to warm up, and you may think you can accelerate quickly, but it could harm those components. Plus you save on gas.

      • SarcasticDwarf says:

        @Jon34511: Correct, but from my (extremely unscientific) understanding letting your vehicle run for a few minutes before driving anywhere in a sub-zero climate causes no harm. At the same time, starting it and going immediately can cause harm. So the question is…what is the optimal time to let it run?

        Accelerating quickly in a cold environment = always a bad idea.

        • Chmeeee says:

          @SarcasticDwarf: The optimal warm up option in really cold weather is to let it run just long enough to get the oil flowing (10-30 seconds) and then go. Drive it gently until it warms up (i.e. keep it below 3k rpm).

          Warming it up by idling takes longer than warming it up under light load, which just means that its actually running LONGER with cold oil than if you just drove it.

          Now, wanting the interior nice and warm is a seperate issue, but that’s why God invented gloves and heated seats.

      • NotYou007 says:

        @Jon34511:

        I take it you have never lived in a really cold part of the world because what you are suggesting is just not possible a lot of times during the winter months in Maine.

    • GitEmSteveDave_FeelsLikeABurningAngel says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: That may be true for diesel, which require heat to fire the fuel, but gas cars use sparkplugs, and actually run BETTER when the air in them is colder. That’s why intercoolers are big for streetracers.

      • Darkest Daze says:

        @GitEmSteveDave_FeelsLikeABurningAngel: Cold air is better for performance because it’s denser than warm air. Intercoolers are used to cool off intake air because of the fact that turbos run at wery high temps. BUT if you drive a cold engine block then heat it up too fast (usually by revving it too fast and high while cold) can cause warping which will blow head gaskets and such over time.

        Letting the car run for 30 seconds to allow the oil to lubricate the engine and then driving it mildly until the car is warmed is perfectly fine. That way the parts are oiled and the engine will warm up at a safe rate without wasting time and gas idling.

        • breese524 says:

          @Darkest Daze: “Letting the car run for 30 seconds to allow the oil to lubricate the engine and then driving it mildly until the car is warmed is perfectly fine. That way the parts are oiled and the engine will warm up at a safe rate without wasting time and gas idling.”

          Exactly what I’ve been told. You don’t “floor it” until you reach the operating temp. Otherwise, damage can occur. I don’t think you really even have to wait 30 seconds, you just shouldn’t run to the rev limiter until the engine reaches the normal operating temperature.

    • keepher says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: @SarcasticDwarf: I just learned recently that with many of today’s vehicles if you depend on the alternator to charge your battery that you could fry your alternator which will then fry your battery. Has something to do with the barely big enough alternators and all the electrical components.

    • lpranal says:

      @SarcasticDwarf: mobil 1 0w30 and redline synthetic transmission fluid are true godsends here in the Frozen Tundraâ„¢

  8. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    “Most Americans drive cars, but haven’t the faintest idea how to drive.” FTFY.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      @segfault: Well, that’s a whole other post. Also, this post is in honor of commenter and newly licensed driver/car owner Taliskan, so that seemed a little harsh.

      • Taliskan says:

        @Laura Northrup: Aw thank you :)

        I will totally admit to still being a newbie driver, but I’ll get the hang of it and strive to be a good driver!

        Also GitEmSteveDave is a genius, see comment thread/post below :D

    • tbax929 says:

      @segfault:
      I’ve found that people who complain about bad drivers are usually bad drivers themselves. I’m not implying that you are, but that’s been my experience. Those of us who are patient and manage to leave on time for our destinations get much less frustrated by other drivers.

      • cluberti says:

        @tbax929 is just plain tbax929: After living in NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, and Charlotte, I can say that even as a passenger, there are such things as “bad drivers” – mostly those drivers are impatient, rather than really “bad drivers” though. The truly bad ones are the ones I see reading the paper or texting while driving – might as well be liquored up before driving at that point, as they drive about as poorly as a drunk.

      • floraposte says:

        @tbax929 is just plain tbax929: Right. And we “make a careless mistake when we’re in a hurry” whereas the other guy is a bad driver.

      • mazzic1083 says:

        @tbax929 is just plain tbax929: Hey you too huh? I don’t know if it’s the New Jersey part of my wife but she always gets mad when others cut us off. I just take it in stride most of the time and keep on going.

        Although I’ve noticed that since our son was born I find myself driving much more carefully since I’m responsible for two lives now.

  9. GitEmSteveDave_FeelsLikeABurningAngel says:

    Here’s a tip I have. If you glue magnets to a Starbucks coffee cup, and stick it on your roof, people on cellphones are so distracted, they will barely notice, while people NOT on cellphones will wave, scream, ride your tail, flash their lights, honk their horns, mime putting something on their roof, point, and try to remove it at stoplights. Of course, that is just my experience….

  10. diasdiem says:

    Myth: Driving an expensive, sporty car with a custom plate that says stuff like MYTOY or EN-V-ME doesn’t make you look like a douche. At all.

    • Whtthfgg says:

      @diasdiem: nothing like the A-hole in my town that drivers a huge hummer with a license with “WHATGAS”.

      I want to beat that douchenozzle

    • TheWillow says:

      @diasdiem: My dad’s says “Fencer” … I think almost every kid I knew growing up thought my dad built fences for a living (too nice an area for them to assume to sold stolen goods).

  11. GearheadGeek says:

    On that list, I think oil changes and premium fuel are the ones that trip most people up in my experience. I do have a friend, college-degreed, who couldn’t quote interpret that “Maximum” concept on the sidewall of his tires and was still skeptical when I showed him the recommended pressure on the door post. At least he later admitted that the ride was much smoother at 32 psi than at 50 psi…

    I’m an outlier both because such things are a hobby for me and because my father was a mechanic, but I really think that life is easier if you have at least a basic idea how the things you use work. I also know I’ll never convince most people of that.

    • nstonep says:

      @GearheadGeek: @Jesse: On my GM it is based on mileage. I think it’s programmed for 7500 and it’s a performance vehicle.

    • Clumber says:

      @GearheadGeek: Neither my sister nor I (also female) were allowed to sign-up for Driver’s Ed in High School until we passed my dad’s tests for car driving – *there was both a written and a practical. The written included how a combustion engine works, the history of fossil fuels, historical stuff about the different sorts of engines used throughout the years such as steam engines, an essay comparing diesel with regular gas engines and rotary verses in-line aircraft engines, and completing a complex diagram of engines and their parts. The practical involved rotating (and thus changing) tires, gapping spark plugs, replacing hoses, and diagnosing/troubleshooting common car breakdowns.

      At the time I thought I had the most @sshole father in the entire world. But I seriously recommend this tact for all parents, for while neither my sister nor I especially enjoy tinkering or fixing cars, neither are we afraid to open the hood and we are never ever helpless with a broken-down vehicle.

      ~tracy

      *my dad has 2 BS’s in History as well as a teaching certificate, though he did not go into teaching, but rather gov’t bureaucracy. i’m sure there’s a great joke in there but I am too close to see it

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @Clumber: My older sister and our dad rebuilt the engine in her first car… a ’68 Mercury Cougar (this was in about ’76.) Like you, she’s never helpless around a car. Good fathers are good to have. :)

      • Jeff-er-ee says:

        @Clumber: I like your dad, and I’ve never met him. I’m a firm believer that part of a driver’s test should include identifying basic parts of a car, showing that you know how to change a tire safely, and demonstrating that you have basic understanding of maintenance and why it’s important. If you can’t pass that test 100%, you don’t get a license.

        Good on you and your family!

      • GreatWhiteNorth says:

        @Clumber: I like your Dad already… a sensible and intelligent person. I too am cut from some of the same cloth as he is and my kids all learned to drive starting at 10 or 11… Learned how the vehicles work… Helped with repairs, they know what is involved in bleeding breaks, changing oil, rotating tires, checking the vital fluids, etc…

  12. oldgraygeek says:

    Actually, using your car’s alternator as a battery charger is worse than ineffective: it’s downright destructive.
    In the old days, those big heavy iron alternators were capable of running at maximum output (as they do when the car is running on a near-dead battery) for hours on end without a problem. Modern lightweight alternators, however, do not have sufficient thermal mass to handle such abuse. Since about 1990, alternator rebuilders have been inundated with warranty returns caused by failure to understand what an alternator is designed to do.

    I worked in auto parts for years, and these are the patterns we would see:

    –Customer’s alternator goes bad, discharging their battery.
    –Customer replaces the alternator and jump-starts the car.
    –Overheated alternator fails, usually within a week, discharging their new battery.
    –Customer returns it as defective.
    –Cycle repeats.

    Or:
    –Customer’s battery dies.
    –Customer buys a new battery that’s half-dead because it’s been on the shelf for a year.
    –Customer jump-starts the car and drives around for three hours to top it up.
    –Overheated alternator fails, discharging their new battery.
    –Customer buys a new alternator.
    –Cycle repeats.

    We greatly reduced both problems by warning customers about the problem, offering free battery charges to anyone, and urging them to give us an hour to charge a new battery when they bought it.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      @oldgraygeek: I have a high-power stereo system in my truck that I play all the time in the summer with the engine off until the battery is drained. My wife is ditzy and leaves the lights on or key on or something else on in her car all the time, draining the battery.

      While we usually end up buying new batteries every two years, I’ve never once had to replace an alternator on any vehicle I’ve ever owned.

      If your alternator can’t charge your battery after running it dead and jump starting, something is wrong.

  13. HogwartsAlum says:

    Must say…that is the cutest picture ever.

  14. Jesse says:

    Most newer GM models have an oil life computer that calculates oil life based on temperature, RPM’s etc.

    I bought my car in may and the computer was telling me that my first oil change wasn’t needed until like 8800 miles but I decided to have the car serviced around 7000.

    • balthisar says:

      @Jesse: Newer? My old 2000 Pontiac did that.

    • your new nemesis says:

      @Jesse: My 2004 chevy malibu does it too, but i noticed a difference in performance and engine noise if i let it get beyond 4000 or 5000 miles. I usually just do an oil change right around this time anyways, better to spend some money now than lots on a new engine down the road.

      • lalaland13 says:

        @skizsrodt: I have a 2005 Malibu, and I notice while my sticker from the oil place wanted me to change it a few days ago, my “oil life” estimate is 40-something percent. I’m right around 4k miles now, and figure I should probably get in there in the next couple weeks but it’s not a dire situation.

        • SagarikaLumos says:

          @lalaland13: My 1995 Cadillac has that, too. Its recommendations are based on using mineral oil, but I use synthetic. I know that I’m covered even down to the single digits, but I do change it when it says so.

  15. Optimistic Prime says:

    If you ever read the maintenance schedule, running the car anywhere is severe conditions. I can’t think of anywhere in the world that isn’t dusty or have some sort of inclines.

  16. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    FACT: Driving a souped-up Honda Civic with a muffler that sounds like a leafblower WILL add six inches to the length of your penis.

  17. Laura Northrup says:

    @PunditGuy: I do a lot of start-and-stop driving, but I’m a woman, so I win! Sorta.

  18. NancyNally says:

    Your car’s manufacturer may refuse to honor your car’s warranty if you need major engine/transmission warranty work and can’t prove through providing receipts that you had the oil changed every 3000 miles.

    My mom ran into that. She needed major warranty work for something that was a known failure problem with her model car and they still wouldn’t pay for it until she provided the receipts. Fortunately she is obsessive about 3mos/3000 miles.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @NancyNally: Not quite true. The manufacturer may refuse to honor your car’s warranty if you can’t prove you had the oil changed at least as often as their published maintenance schedule for your car recommends. I can’t think of a modern car that has a 3,000 mile recommendation from the manufacturer.

    • Xerloq says:

      @NancyNally: The maintenance schedule must have required 3,000 mile oil changes. So long as you can provide reciepts showing you complied with the manufacturers maintenance schedule (usually in the owner’s manual) your warranty should be valid.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @NancyNally: Not if your maintenance schedule recommends an interval greater than 3,000 miles — mine has 7,500, for example. They can’t change the rules as they go along.

  19. Moosehawk says:

    Myth: The more buzzing your sub-woofer makes, the better your music sounds.

    I was walking on the sidewalk about a year ago and this kid in this early 1990s something drives by me with his sub-woofer blasting shit in the trunk. The metal from the trunk rattling against the car made more noise than his music.

    • ARP says:

      @Moosehawk: Which means he spent all his money on his subs and not enough on insulation and/or proper mounting hardware.

    • brandymb says:

      @Moosehawk: As long as h goes deaf and the metal falling off his car doesnt hit someone else, I could give a shit.

    • jessedybka says:

      @Moosehawk: May I just point out this might be the most misleading use of the phrase “blasting shit in the trunk.”

    • webweazel says:

      @Moosehawk: As we say, sounds like a bunch of trashcans rolling down the street. I make it a habit to point directly at them and laugh.

      Saw another “dude” so cooool he had a full (small) chandeleir hanging from the center of his roof. I almost peed myself laughing at him.

    • Hua Kul says:

      @Moosehawk:

      Typically that noise is not made by a poorly mounted subwoofer but by the speaker itself, because the power rating of the speaker is more than the amp is providing and he doesn’t have added power capacitors that provide the extra power needed for the loudest passages. The speaker is clipping, a type of distortion that’s basically a DC signal.

  20. nstonep says:

    Myth: Auto-shifters are the same as driving a manual!

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @nstonep: someone believes that? I thought that was just a marketing lie. I guess some of the people who BUY them believe that. There are a few that come fairly close (DSG in VW/Audi products, for example) but that’s an automated clutched gearbox rather than a “real” automatic slushbox. The only auto I’ve ever bought was a ’71 Buick Skylark Custom Convertible with a 350THM. Even with a 4-speed manual it would still have been a pig, so I didn’t mind all that much.

    • Moosehawk says:

      @nstonep: I knew a kid that did this in his Cobalt SS. He red-lined the car coming out of the dealership, and had to replace his transmission at about 25,000 miles.

    • farcedude says:

      @nstonep: Umm, I don’t know much about cars, so I’m wondering what ‘auto-shifters’ are.

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @farcedude:

        I think he’s talking about automatic transmissions with manual shift modes.

        Even shifting manually, a traditional torque-converter automatic transmission is not as responsive, and usually not as efficient as a genuine manual transmission with a clutch. And putting a manual mode with shift points on a CVT is equally lame and actually defeats the purpose. (Now a CVT with a dial allowing you to select arbitrary spindle ratios…THAT would be cool.)

        Torque converter – this fluid-coupling (uses changes in viscosity of fluids as temperature and pressure changes to stick things together) thing that automatic transmissions use to mate the engine to the transmission.

        Clutch – plates used to couple two rotating objects together by pressing them together and letting friction hold them together

        CVT – Continuously Variable Transmission – Uses wedge-shaped belts held between “spindles” that squeeze them together at different points on the spindle, in order to allow use any ratio possible between those spindles. Tends to be very fuel efficient. Making these act like a manual transmission or a traditional automatic defeats the purpose of having a CVT.

        There’s another type of transmission, manuals which handle the clutch (or clutches…I think most of them use more than one) automatically instead of having the driver do it. Those are faster than a human can shift. Some people call those automatic, but they aren’t, in that they won’t shift until a person tells them to. Those might be more or less the same as driving a manual, but I’ve never driven one, so I dunno.

        • Shadowman615 says:

          @TechnoDestructo: Of course, having a CVT pretty much defeats the purpose of driving altogether.

          • GearheadGeek says:

            @Shadowman615: Well, it’s certainly not a very fun and interactive method, but if people didn’t steadfastly refuse to understand “something different” then CVTs could be a decent option for an econo-penalty-box. The problem is that when they’re programmed to be the most efficient, they don’t sound like a conventional automatic (the engine goes to its peak-power RPM and stays very close to that as long as you’re demanding full power) and people take them to the dealer complaining that “the transmission is slipping.”

            Never mind the fact that the car is accelerating briskly all the while, they “know” there is something wrong. Idjits.

  21. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    Some theories I’ve heard over the years:

    -A clean car is a more aerodynamic car, saving fuel.

    -Driving with the windows down is more gas-efficient than using your a/c. (although mythbusters confirmed this false, it might be true for certain vehicles)

    -NOT rotating tires on a front wheel drive car will mean that you replace only the front tires, as the rear tires get little wear.

  22. GearheadGeek says:

    A myth I was reminded of by the tire thread: filling your tires with nitrogen is significantly different than filling them with regular air.

  23. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Call me wild and crazy, but I don’t mind spending the extra $30 for an oil change at 3000 or 4000 miles. If you feel lucky and trust your car’s manufacturer (who has absolutely no interest in selling you a new car or a $5000 engine), go for 7500 or even 15,000 miles.

  24. frodolives35 says:

    Myth: Putting a rear spoiler wing on a front wheel drive POS 90s Civic or Nissan with holes drilled in the muffler makes you look cool.

  25. Anne Boleyn says:

    Also worth noting that if you drive a car with a turbocharger, you ABSOLUTELY should be getting full synthetic oil instead of a blend or traditional. Turbochargers get hot – very hot – and traditional oil is much more prone to thermal breakdown than synthetic oil, meaning that you get more engine sludge with traditional oil. At best, this could mean that you shell out a few hundred bucks to drop your oil pan and get it cleaned. At worst, your engine seizes and you’re SOL.

  26. TopcatF14B says:

    I disagree with the oil “tip”, as a Master certified ASE technician I find that bad tips like this cause more harm than good.

    On daily driver vehicles I change oil every 2500-3000 miles and in high performance vehicles I prefer to change them every 1500-2000 miles. The amount of oil you burn at a consistent interval (ie. every 3000 miles) can give you a good baseline on your vehicle health and give you notice to any major problems heading your way, and may allow for time to fix before your car shits out on you…

    Assuming you use the same brand and design of tire that the car came with, they do a significant amount of testing on those tires to show what pressures get the best all around handling, gas mileage and wear rating…hell even some cars have tires specifically designed for them and then go into mass production.

  27. tkates says:

    You probably don’t need a power steering fluid flush. You should replace your fluid periodically (every 50k miles or so), but the only reason you’ll ever need a flush is if the fluid is contaminated with dirt or another foreign substance.

  28. RedwoodFlyer says:

    @TheWillow: Thank you! One of my friends, who makes <$30k…and living in D.C… just added $4,000 to his already mounting non-education related debt which is now over $10,000!

    Man will I be pissed off if he gets a bailout/free ObamaCare of some sort!

  29. diasdiem says:

    Myth: A $2000 sound system totally makes up for driving a $500 POS.

  30. LeChiffre says:

    Ok ok,,now you’re getting silly. Just silly. I command the lot of you to stop right now before it ends up getting more silly.

  31. photoartist says:

    It’s fairly simple really. Cars that recommend synthetic oil can easily go 7,500 miles between oil changes. Otherwise, I would suggest 3,500 for regular motor oil. Synthetic oil breaks down much slower but it far more expensive.

  32. remington870_20ga says:

    surprised that I haven’t seen the $3 tip to use magnetic oil pan plugs.

  33. Buffet says:

    Haven’t the faintest idea how they work? WTF???

  34. theblackdog says:

    A few times I have had to have my battery jumped because I leave the lights on by mistake, and the first thing I do is shut off the radio and the other power stuff while I’m driving around, that way more power is devoted to the battery and not to making sure my ass is warm.

  35. SoCal104 says:

    I totally agree with the comments on the 3,000 mile thing is the marketers trying to figure out how to get more revenue. Especially since many people use synthetic oils. I rarely change my oil more often than every 6,000 miles. No issues whatsoever and I have two 12 year old cars. If you ask a good independent mechanic they will give the the straight story.

    And as for the comment on the engagement ring and two months salary. This is the biggest crock since the 15% tip became standardized. Lets see young couple getting married needs to (likely) go $7,000 into debt so that some monopoly in South Africa can make billions. When companies couldn’t figure out how to make enough money off selling products and services they had the marketing folks go to work on how to make us all pay 10-15% more without any need.

    LiveCheap for a while and purge yourself of all of this nonsense.

  36. Triterion says:

    3,000-mile changes for “constant stop-and-go driving or dusty conditions.” Damn you LA!