Car care myths–debunking unnecessary maintenance traditions

Car maintenance myths debunked! (NL)

I drove my last pickup over 300,000 miles

When it comes to cars, information gets passed around through many different channels. One way many of us learn about car ownership and maintenance stems from word-of-mouth information. Whether it’s your buddies, your family, or a passerby, it seems like everyone has an opinion. Last year, I traded my faithful driving 2000 GMC Silverado 1500 Extended Cab pickup with over 320,000 miles on it. Regular care–and the right care–is the key!

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For my ‘Old Faithful’ GMC, I  stuck with the basics by concentrating on oil, air filters, water, tires and break pads. As she aged, (over 200,000 miles) I began adding a cleaning and performance additive called Additech, dispensed automatically when I filled my truck up at H-E-B gas stations. It helped!  I never had to have a major repair, although I did replace the belts and hoses twice in 17 years.

‘Old Faithful,’ my beloved GMC Sierra lasted over 300,000 miles before I traded her in.

While sharing knowledge and techniques can be a great way to learn more about car maintenance, you need to be careful. There is plenty of misinformation out there—myths that are just downright wrong. Here are a few that really grind our gears.


      1. Change Oil Every 3,000 Miles

You’re just wasting time and money doing this. This myth stems from something that was once true 40 years ago. Back in the day, engines and motor oil were not nearly as efficient as they are today. In reality, most engines can run perfectly fine for 5,000 to 10,000 miles without an oil change. Check your manual to know for sure. With Old Faithful, I had her changed every 6,000 miles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who believe cars never need an oil change. This is obviously false. Oil lubricates your engine, allowing it to run smoothly. The more you drive, the more dirt and grime gathers in it, turning the oil from a translucent brown to opaque black. The dirt and grime sticks to various parts of the engine and can cause damage. The best course of action is to change your oil at a reasonable rate—not too much, but not too little.


  1. Premium Fuel is Always Better

I changed the oil in ‘Old Faithful’ every 6,000 miles. (NL)

Don’t spend money on things your car doesn’t need. If your owner’s manual says regular gas is fine, then regular gas is fine. Just cars with premium-only engines see the actual “benefits” from premium fuel.

Your premium-only friends can never put regular gas in their tanks because the octane levels are too low. In other words, the fuel doesn’t burn fast or hot enough to work in their engines. Conversely, engines that only require regular gas and lower octane levels receive absolutely no benefit from premium gas. The only thing you’ll be burning is money.


  1. The Wider the Tire, The Better

This myth is a harder one to debunk. Unless you plan on entering your car in the Indy 500, your regular, manufacturer-recommended tires are more than fine. In general, wider tires lead to more traction. Many people translate more traction to mean safer handling. However, unless you’re trying to improve your quarter mile time or use your car for serious hauling, a wider tire isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Another common misconception is that more traction is safer for things like rain and snow. Believe it or not, it’s just the opposite. The more surface area your tires cover, the greater the chance of your tires losing their grip and sliding or hydroplaning.




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