If you drive a car, but haven’t got a clue what happens under the hood, you aren’t alone. Learning how cars work can be tricky, especially with so much automotive misinformation passed around. To help you separate fact from fiction, we’re examining seven often repeated car myths to see how they hold up.
1. Using your phone at a gas pump can cause an explosion
As soon as the cell phone was invented, gas stations banned their customers from using them onsite, claiming it could cause a fire or explosion. But, as it turns out, phones transmit far less energy (usually less than 1W/cm²) than is required to ignite a fuel source.
In fact, debunkers like Mythbusters have even tried to start gas pump fires with cell phones (in a controlled environment, of course), but to no success. And there have actually been no reported incidences of gas pump fires caused by cell phones to-date.
In reality, phone use while pumping gas is banned due to the dangerous combination of inattentive, distracted people and moving vehicles. So, for your safety and everyone else’s, it’s best to pump gas with your phone safely stashed away.
2. You don’t need winter tires if you have AWD
A common misconception is that if your vehicle has all-wheel drive, snow tires are worthless. But even an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle can benefit from a set of dedicated winter rubber. Snow tires, which are also called winter tires, have a tread pattern designed especially for the snow and ice. Some even have studs for increased traction.
3. Repairs by an unauthorized dealer will void your vehicle’s warranty
Not only is this myth wrong – it’s illegal to write it as a clause into your vehicle’s warranty contract. But keep in mind, your mechanic should always use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended fluids, oils, and lubricants, as well as OEM filters. The recommended service and maintenance schedule must be followed and documented, as well.
As the vehicle owner you have the freedom to have your vehicle serviced wherever you choose. This is covered under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. Just make sure you keep records of the services performed. No records = no coverage.
4. Premium gas is better for your vehicle
It makes sense to assume that premium gas is better for your vehicle since it’s more expensive and has a higher-octane rating. But that’s not always the case. Usually, only high-performance vehicles, or those with a turbocharger or supercharger, benefit from premium gas. Some vintage vehicles must have premium fuel, as well.
High-performance engines typically have a higher compression ratio that requires a higher-octane fuel for optimum performance. If you’re unsure of which fuel is right for your vehicle, you can check in your owner’s manual, or ask your trusted mechanic.
5. Batteries in electric vehicles wear out quickly
Battery technologies have come a long way. Most electric vehicle manufacturers now offer an 8 to 10-year warranty on the battery, which is longer than most new car buyers will own their vehicle. EV batteries are also built with battery buffers specifically to prevent battery degradation.
6. Your recommended tire pressure is printed on the tire
You should be checking your tire pressure regularly – about once every 2 to 4 weeks. But what is the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle? Surprisingly, the answer is not as simple as you think.
Some people will fill their tire based on what is written on the tire’s sidewall. But that’s not what you want since it’s the absolute maximum pressure your tire can handle. Filling your tire to this reading will affect your vehicles handling and decrease the life of your tire. The recommended tire pressure is printed on a sticker that can be found on the driver’s doorframe (or in the owner’s manual). Filling your tires to the tires to correct pressure will ensure you get the optimal performance and lifespan from your tires.
7. Electric vehicles are bad for the environment because of how they’re built
Critics of the electric vehicle are quick to point out that, due to the way they’re built, EVs negate any potential ecological benefits. The argument is that the batteries in an EV are made up of some rare earth materials. And extracting these materials creates carbon emissions, which is true.
For example, researchers have found that producing a battery for a mid-size electric vehicle, such as for a Nissan Leaf, would result in 1 ton of global warming emissions, which is 15% percent more than manufacturing a similar gasoline vehicle.
On the flip side, driving a full-size, long-range EV would result in 53% lower overall emissions compared to a similar gasoline vehicle. So, the reduced emissions from driving an EV quickly cancels out the emissions caused by manufacturing an EV – in fact, in average mid-size, mid-range EVs, it takes just 4,900 miles to “make up for” the emissions created during manufacturing.
Not to mention, EVs also produce less environmental waste since they require less maintenance and repair. Now that we’ve got you thinking about getting an EV, check out our blog post on the pros and cons of going electric.