October 10, 2013

Sometimes, if you hear something said enough times, you tend to believe it’s true – whether it is or not.

man pumping gas

Consumer Reports magazine has done the background tests that show five commonly believed truths about auto maintenance are, in fact, myths.

While there is no doubt that regular automobile maintenance will extend the life of the vehicle, many consumers may be spending more than they need to keep their cars in good running shape.

Here are five myths about automobile maintenance that may be costing you money, according to Consumer Reports.

Myth 1: Change your oil every 3,000 miles. Under most circumstances, changing engine oil every 7,500 miles is enough. When in doubt, go by your owner’s manual, not the suggestions of some lube shops that may be trying to upsell you on services. Changing the oil every 3,000 miles won’t hurt your car, but it will probably cost you at least twice as much.

Myth 2: Using air conditioning will hurt your mileage. Consumer Reportstests showed no measurable difference in mileage between running the air conditioner and opening the windows. While using the AC puts slightly more load on the engine, open windows increase aerodynamic drag. So it’s a wash. The research group recommended using AC because it keeps the driver more alert and comfortable, important safety concerns.

Myth 3: Premium gas is better for your car. Using premium gas won’t hurt most vehicles’ performance, but it won’t help either, Consumer Reports studies show. If your car, like most, is designed for 87 octane fuel (regular), using a higher grade won’t make a difference. Premium gas is needed for hotter-running, high-compression engines. Some makes require premium gas – something you should consider when purchasing your vehicle.

Myth 4: You’ll get more gas for your money if you fill up in the morning. While the theory is that gas is denser in the morning when it’s cooler so you’ll get more for your money, the reality is that the change in the temperature of the gas coming out of the nozzle is negligible during the day. You’ll spend more in gas making a special morning trip to the station than you’ll save.

Myth 5: Inflate tires to pressure shown on sidewall. The pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall is the maximum amount of pressure the tire can safely hold, not the recommended pressure. The recommended pressure for handling, braking and wear will typically be posted in the door jamb, fuel-filler door or glove box. Check the tire pressure monthly after the car has been parked a few hours. If tire pressure is down 10 psi, the consumer group’s tests have shown it can make a 1-mile-per-gallon difference – as well impact handling, braking and wear.

This article was originally posted on October 10, 2013 and the information may no longer be current. For questions, please contact GRF CPAs & Advisors at marketing@grfcpa.com.