I was speaking with a friend of mine and we got into talking about cars and doing research before a new (to us) car is bought, we both agreed that was must. And she add, "Consumer reports is my bible, I don't do anything until I've checked it out with them." I would have to agree. But not only for purchasing but also for general tips as well.

Recently I got updated on car care myths vs reality from them and I learned something new as well. I won't go over what they said about them, you can read that, but I did check to make sure I was doing things correct.


Myth: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
I live with someone who subscribes to this idea and the manuals that I have for the cars say every 3k as well. However, I am not going freak out if the car goes 3500 miles or more before an oil change.

Myth: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall. 
I used to go by this as well until one day I needed to fill up the tire and it was too muddy to read and lo and behold there was information on the inside of the driver side door. Since then I have used that for the pressure info. Except in one case where I had gotten a bigger tire for vehicle, then I used the average between the car door info and the tire. Never had trouble with blown tires yet.

Myth: If regular-grade fuel is good, premium must be better.
Now I have never used the premium fuel on a car but I have dropped down to the lower grade and heard the difference from the engine and have not made that mistake again. One thing that still confuses me is that here in Colorado we have 87/89/91 octane and back in Iowa there was 87/88-90/91  and I have read that the lower octane in the higher altitude is just like the mid octane at sea level -ish, but since my car was "born and raised" here then it would still need the mid octane amount I would presume.  Oh well, I will go by what the manual says.

Myth: After a jump-start, your car will soon recharge the battery.
I have never heard of this, I always figured that if the battery needed a jump start you had better get it into shop to get it checked out so it doesn't die on you again, especially in the cold months!

Myth: Let your engine warm up for several minutes before driving.
This is one that confuses me as well. What I have read is that this is useful for older cars, but at what year is that considered an 'older car' as opposed to a newer car? I have a 99 Saturn and a 95 crown vic - I don't warm up the Saturn, instead I led it glide to the first stop sign (about 200 yards) and then gently add gas I move beyond that. I rarely drive the crown vic in the winter.

Myth: A dealership must perform regular maintenance to keep your car’s factory warranty valid.
I have never bought a brand new car so I'm indifferent to this myth  and as a frugal person why would I want to spend so much more on car repair or general maintenance by going to a dealership. I figure once you've found a decent shop that works well, stay there and bring your coupons.

8 Comments

  1. Bonzosa // Monday, October 19, 2009 11:51:00 AM  

    If your car sits for a while then it could just need a jump, and yes, it will recharge shortly, drive it for about 10 minutes or so and you should be fine. Another reason your battery could be dead is that your alternator is shot. Test the battery and the alternator to make sure the alternator isn't killing your battery by depriving it of recharge.
    I go about 5,000 miles between oil changes, if you do all city driving I would keep it near the 3k-3500 mile range.
    I always inflate according to the tire manufacturer rather than the door. The door is not specific to the tire make you select to replace the original tires.
    Most owner manuals now tell you to just drive, so check the manual. This really is only of concern in cold weather. Waiting 6 seconds upon starting is sufficient in most weather. This allows oil to circulate in the engine before putting load on it.
    If you are replacing parts on a car under warranty, wouldn't you be going to the dealer anyways?

  2. Jeremy // Monday, October 19, 2009 2:48:00 PM  

    I want to comment on your "mid-grade" versus "low grade" fuel. You are referring to the octane values.

    "Mid-grade" fuel, or slightly higher octane, is not 'better', for two reasons.

    One, octane is defined as a fuel's resistance to knocking. There is no benefit if the octane is higher than what the engine needs.

    Secondly, 89 octane fuel, commonly referred to as 'mid-grade', is typically 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline. There are two problems with "mid-grade" fuel:

    1) Ethanol only contains 68% the energy value of gasoline. This means you are literally filling your gas tank up with 3.2% less energy.

    2) In fact, while cars today are designed to support 10% ethanol mixes, accidental variances over that mark can and will damage and corrode car components, such as rings, gaskets, and sensors. Google 'ethanol damage car' for studies and articles.

    Even though I live in Nebraska, I run E87 (100% gasoline) fuel in my vehicle. Corn-based ethanol production in the U.S. is too economically damaging in the long term.

  3. Jan // Monday, October 19, 2009 2:58:00 PM  

    Keeping tires at correct pressure does improve gas mileage.

  4. Richard // Monday, October 19, 2009 5:20:00 PM  

    "Myth: After a jump-start, your car will soon recharge the battery."

    It's not a myth (usually). Your battery is just like any other battery - it only has a finite charge. Think about it for a second; everything in your car needs 'juice' to run... headlights, radio, signals, dashboard, etc. How do you think it charges itself? Or how come your battery doesn't die once a month?
    You have an Alternator. It's job is to generate electricity that helps your car run and maintain the charge in the battery.
    If your battery is dead, and you get a 'boost', and your alternator is strong enough, you can run your car and revive your battery. Of course, deplete a lead-acid battery enough times, and nothing's going to revive it.

  5. Dawn // Monday, October 19, 2009 6:34:00 PM  

    @Bonzosa
    Thank you for relaying your experience. I kinda wondered about the tire reading and the door reading. That would make more sense.
    My cars are never under warranty - too old.

    @Jeremy
    Thank you for taking the time to explain the octane- it does give me a clearer picture.

    @Jan
    I am amazed at how many cars have low tires when I walk through a parking lot. It isn't that hard, just time.

    @Richard
    That does make sense and explains why those are so expensive - it's all about the alternator

  6. Cassie // Monday, October 19, 2009 7:34:00 PM  

    I've always had problems with my car battery in the winter and my car is a 2005! I usually need at least 1 boost every winter. I have checked with a shop and the battery is in perfect condition, so I have no clue what's up!

    Anyway, thanks for the post. Very informative. :)

  7. Jo // Monday, October 19, 2009 8:22:00 PM  

    My 2003 Jeep Wrangler Manual recommends 87 Octane gasoline. So anything more expensive than that is a waste of ca$h.

  8. Lawence // Thursday, October 22, 2009 10:56:00 AM  

    I've always made it a point to keep the correct air pressure in my tires. It helps with gas mileage and the tires last a whole longer as well.