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Six auto-maintenance myths
America’s love affair with cars is undeniable, and when the citizens of our great nation have such affection for something, nothing is too good or too costly for our “babies.” But are we overdoing it?
There are more than 260 million registered vehicles in the U.S., which is a remarkable number when you consider there are only about 218 million licensed drivers. Estimates vary greatly as to the typical annual cost for maintenance, but one common view is that many people spend too much.
A few “recommended” automotive maintenance procedures are myths that are great at separating you from your money, but may not make your vehicle run any better or last longer.
Oil should be changed at least every 3,000 miles
Not even close. Check your auto owner’s manual for the true recommended oil change intervals. Typically it’s about every 5,000 to 7,500 miles and even higher in some models. Changing oil more often won’t hurt your engine, but it will waste money. The quick oil change businesses tell you their services are needed every 3,000 miles. They’re generally not. If you spend $50 for oil changes every 3,000 miles, in your vehicle’s first 100,000 miles you will spend $1,650. Change the oil every 7,500 miles and that total would stand at $650. Can you think of a better way to use $1,000?
Using premium grade fuel will make your car run more efficiently
Premium gasoline can be 10 to 30 percent more expensive than regular grade fuels and is designed to meet the needs of certain hotter-running engines. Most vehicles run well on regular-grade fuel. Check your owner’s manual for which grade to purchase. If your vehicle is designed to run on regular, filling up with premium probably won’t hurt your engine, but you won’t get better mileage and your vehicle will not perform any better. Why waste the money?
Warm your engine before driving, especially in cold weather
There was a time when this was true… perhaps for your grandfather’s old land yacht, but not now. Almost all vehicles manufactured in the last 20 years don’t require “warming up.” Normal driving (not revving the engine) is the best way to bring a modern engine up to operating temperature and into a state that delivers the best fuel mileage and performance. Idling in your driveway means the fuel you’re using is producing zero miles per gallon which is wasting money with each turn of the engine.
Other auto maintenance myths
- You need to change coolant frequently to extend the life of your engine. Owners’ manuals typically recommend every 30,000 to 60,000 miles for certain models and much longer intervals for others. In most instances, changing it any sooner is completely unnecessary and a waste of cash.
- You should replace the air filter at every oil change. Air filters can be removed and cleaned with compressed air at one oil change and replaced during a future oil change service.
- You need a chassis lube! Really? A chassis lubrication involves pumping grease into the chassis of your automobile. Unless your car is more than 20 years old, it is highly unlikely you need to spend money on such service and pumping unneeded grease into a system could cause damage.
Your owner’s manual was written and printed for a reason
The owner’s manual is a great resource. If in doubt, check it out! If you don’t get the answers you need in its pages, consult with the vehicle manufacturer via the internet or an 800 number. It will be time (not money) well spent.