When you bought your first car, it probably came with a lecture from a mechanic or an elder about the importance of proper routine maintenance. Over the years, you’ve undoubtedly picked up tips and tricks to make sure your automobile is running well. Perhaps, you’ve even read things online or asked a friend or family member for feedback regarding the dos and don’ts for keeping your car in top shape. While a lot of this advice may sound logical, could it actually be costing you in the long run?
The best place to get advice is from a trusted car-care specialist. Getting advice from a pro is essential to making sure you are doing right by your vehicle. That’s why representatives from the Neighborhood of Auto Repair Professionals are busting the top five maintenance myths to save you time and money and keep your auto running longer.
❚ Myth #1:Warm up your engine before driving. This is outdated advice. Driving your car is really the fastest way to warm up a modern engine. Modern engines warm up more quickly when you’re driving. The sooner it warms up, the sooner it delivers the best mileage and performance.
❚ Myth #2: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire. The number shown on your tire’s sidewall is actually the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure. On newer cars, you can find the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) on a sticker inside the driver’s door. If there’s no sticker, check the owner’s manual. Check your tire pressure monthly. For the most accurate pressure reading, check the tire when it’s cold, after the car has been parked for a few hours out of the sun.
❚ Myth #3: You have to replace all four tires at the same time. Whether you replace all four tires at the same time depends entirely on the condition of all four tires. You can replace individual tires as long as they’re the same brand, model and size as the others. To maximize the life of your tires, have them regularly rotated every 5-6,000 miles.
❚ Myth #4: You should have oil changed every 3,000 miles. Thanks to improvements in synthetic oils and engine design, many vehicles can actually go 5,000 to 7,500 miles between oil changes. In general, having an oil change by a pro four times a year is ideal. Each time you have routine maintenance, the technician will check fluid levels and tire pressure for you.
❚ Myth #5: Premium fuel is better than regular-grade fuel. Today, most cars are designed to run on regular grade fuel (87 octane). Higher-octane fuels are usually used in hotter-running high compression vehicles like sports cars and certain luxury vehicles to prevent engine knocking. The Federal Trade Commission says using premium gas can actually add more than $100 in fuel costs each year, so just use the octane grade recommended in your car’s manual.
Lastly, know that if your car is under warranty, you don’t have to take your car to the dealer to have it serviced. Many people believe they must take their car to a dealership or they will void the manufacturer’s warranty. That’s a myth. Your warranty is valid until the expiration date, no matter where it is serviced. Keep your receipts or use a shop that maintains service records. The only time you must take your vehicle to the dealership is when a recall is involved.
Glen Hayward is the owner of Good Works Auto Repair in Tempe and a board member of the Neighborhood of Auto Repair Professionals, or NARPRO.