Owning and maintaining a car has costs associated with it — there’s no way around that. But many drivers spend more than they ought to, or sink money in where it’s not actually doing any good. Below are five of the most pervasive myths about cars that are costing drivers money:
- You Need an Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles
This was once true, but high-tech synthetic oils make an oil change every 3,000 miles unnecessary in the vast majority of cars on the road today. Even owner’s manuals — generally conservative in their estimates — often recommend oil changes every 7,500 miles. The former standard does more to keep quick-lube operations in business than it does to keep cars running smoothly, and disposing of all that extra motor oil is bad for the environment, anyway.
- Premium Gasoline Leads to Better Engine Efficiency
Unless your owner’s manual tells you that your car needs premium gasoline, there’s probably absolutely no benefit whatsoever to using it. The vast majority of cars run just as well on regular.
- Discount Chassis Parts Are Lower in Quality
Whether it’s something simple, like your brake rotors or brake pads, or something more complex, like transmission parts, the bottom line is that auto parts wear out and need replacing. But you’ll spend way more money over the lifetime of a car if you always replace those parts with brand-name ones. Discount chassis parts are generally comparable in quality to those from the original equipment manufacturer, and there’s no reason to avoid discount auto parts any more than there is to avoid any store-brand product when you’re grocery shopping.
- You Can’t Do Your Own Work on Modern Cars
Because modern cars rely on complex computer systems, it can be difficult to pop the hood and dive in the same way you might have in a ’56 Chevy. But many drivers assume that means every single car problem requires a trip to the mechanic, and that’s not true either. There are still plenty of simple fixes — replacing a bulb, a fuse, a line, etc. — that you can get the parts for and fix in your own garage.
- You Need to Idle and “Warm Up” in Winter
Here’s a timely question: Do you really need to warm up your car on a cold winter morning? In general, the answer is no. Modern fuel injection systems are so efficient that idling is no longer necessary. It’s a waste of money, too: Idling for more than 10 seconds costs more than turning off the engine and restarting it.
Have you been guilty of avoiding discount chassis parts? Getting oil changes too frequently or going to the mechanic for every little thing? Use the comments section to discuss the issues raised above, or share your own ideas of how people might be spending unnecessary money on their cars.