There are a lot of misconceptions concerning automobile technology. While most people have a decent grasp on basics such as keeping the windshield fluid topped off and changing windshield wipers, here are three items that might be best described as “popular myths”.
The Pressure to inflate car tires to is not stamped on the sidewall. Keeping your tires inflated to the proper level is an important task for two reasons: first, your gas mileage will decrease if your tires are low on air; second, they will wear out quicker. The solution, of course, is to keep them pumped up to the proper pressure. Here’s the catch, though. The pressure stamped on a tire’s sidewall is actually the tire manufacturer’s maximum inflation level. It is not the “normal” inflation pressure. Not many people know this. So, what is the correct pressure to inflate your car’s tires to? The correct pressure can be found on a tag either in the door frame area of your car or in the glove compartment lid. It also should be stated in your vehicle’s operating manual. Inflate your tires to that PSI rating.
Higher gasoline octane ratings do not mean “the gas has more power”. Jaguar of Naperville, IL, a factory-authorized Jaguar Dealer tells us that this is a common misconception. It probably originates from the fact that higher octane gas is more expensive than standard gas and if you pay more for something, isn’t it better? Well, not in this case. High octane gas actually burns slower. That’s right, slower. It retards the burning rate so that the gas won’t pre-ignite as easily. When pre-ignition does happen, an engine tends to “knock” or “ping” and this can damage it. Your engine’s compression ratio primarily dictates your car’s octane requirement along with some internal component designs. Automobile manufacturers always show the octane rating required for each model they make. By the way, a corollary would be that putting a higher octane fuel in an engine designed for lower octane gets you nothing. In fact, it wastes money and can actually result in less complete combustion, resulting in lower fuel mileage.
You do not need to change your oil every 3000 miles. Was this ever true? Well, as it turns out it was quite true but this was a long time ago. By now, this wives’ tale has been so thoroughly debunked that it actually has its own Wikipedia page. Today, most modern cars can go 5000 to 10,000 miles before needing an oil change. Oils are far better now. Particularly synthetic oils and oil filters are far more advanced than they used to be. When in doubt, check to see what your car manufacturer recommends for oil change duration intervals. And in doubt, you will certainly do no harm if you do change the oil more often than what is recommended.
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