By Mike Bumbeck
With the sheer number of automobiles in the world, it's only natural that a number of myths, untruths and misconceptions surround modern motoring. Some of these myths are harmless, while others can be dangerous! For example, a blowout caused by an underinflated tire can actually cause an accident. Plus, other mistruths can result in neglect and end up as expensive repairs. Either way, knowledge is power. Test your car care knowledge by following along with this true or false quiz. The answers are already included, so you can easily grade yourself.
TRUE OR FALSE?
1. You can tell if a tire needs or has too much air just by looking at it.
FALSE: A tire can be as much as 10 pounds per square inch (psi) low on air pressure and not show any outward signs. Tires will lose about one pound of pressure per month all by themselves. Not only will the correct tire pressure help tires last longer, but it can also save money in fuel costs. Underinflated tires create more rolling resistance, which uses more fuel. Checking tire pressure is easy and only takes a few minutes.
2. Changing the oil and filter can help an engine last longer.
TRUE: While changing the oil too frequently is not required, the difference between an engine that lasts for the life of a vehicle and one that wears out too early is based on following the vehicle manufacturer's oil and filter maintenance schedule. Trust that the people who built your car know the most about what its engine needs.
3. If an air filter looks clean, then it doesn’t need to be replaced.
FALSE: An air filter traps dirt and junk so small that it cannot be seen. Even if an air filter looks clean, it can still be clogged with crud. Once the small passages in the filter designed to catch dirt get clogged, the engine can have trouble breathing. Replacing an air filter is easy and inexpensive. The owner's manual will contain a maintenance schedule. Tip: Air filters can get clogged quicker than normal in cities and dusty areas.
4. A good coat of car wax can help keep paint looking good.
TRUE: A coat of quality car wax not only helps retain the good stuff that keeps paint looking new, but it also repels the bad stuff. A thin layer of wax protects against all types of things that can harm paint. The type of car wax you use is not as important as simply completing the task of applying wax to your vehicle – a case of something is better than nothing.
5. Brake fluid lasts forever.
FALSE: Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it has great ability to absorb water from the air. This moisture can eventually cause damage to the brake system and dangerously lower the brake fluid’s boiling point. Brake fluid should be clear and transparent. Cloudy brake fluid means it’s time for a change.
6. If engine coolant is bright green, then it’s still performing well for your cooling system.
FALSE: Over time, the chemicals in engine coolant can become corrosive. Coolant that looks fresh can actually be causing unseen and expensive cooling system damage. Checking engine coolant condition with an inexpensive tool is easy and can prevent both overheated engines and empty wallets.
7. When working on a car or truck, it's a good idea to tighten nuts and bolts as much as possible.
FALSE: Almost every fastener that can be tightened on a modern motor vehicle is designed for tightening to a specific torque. Measuring this twist is what a torque wrench is for, making the torque wrench an indispensable tool for your toolbox.
8. It takes more fuel to stop and start an engine than it does to leave it running.
FALSE: This may have been true in the olden days of carbureted engines, but modern fuel injection systems have put a permanent end to this myth. While turning the car on and off all the time may not be the best idea for the starter, letting it idle any longer than three minutes is simply a waste of fuel.
9. You should follow the tire pressure number listed on your tire's sidewall when inflating tires.
FALSE: Tire pressure runs with the vehicle itself, not the tires it rolls on. Always inflate tires to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. These pressures (the psi) can be found on the inside pillar of the door, or sometimes on the inside of the glove box door. Note that the pressures are different for a fully loaded automobile. Tip: Check the pressure in your spare tire once a year.
10. Putting premium gas in the tank will provide a premium in performance.
FALSE: Unless the engine under the hood was designed and built to take advantage of the extra octane in premium fuel, there is no point in paying the extra money per litre. The number of high-performance cars and trucks that actually require premium fuel is very small. Keep it regular unless your owner's manual calls for premium fuel.