Car Maintenance

The average car owner spends hundreds of dollars a year on needless maintenance. Find out the common misconceptions about car maintenance and whether you are dumping your hard earned money down the drain.

Do you have to change your oil every 3K miles?

Many moons ago there was a time when a car needed its oil changed every 3K miles. Car and oil technology have come a long way since.

These days new cars can go up to 15K miles before needing an oil change. If you drive an older car you can safely change your oil every 5K to 6K miles.

The only exception would be if you drive very short distances or if you use your car to tow heavy equipment. Otherwise it’s a waste of your money and the environment.

Are cars with manual transmissions more fuel efficient than automatics?

It used to be true that a car equipped with a manual transmission was more fuel efficient than its automatic counterpart.

But car technology has evolved to the point that automatic transmissions are now becoming more fuel efficient.

On the highway a car with a six speed automatic will give you slightly better gas mileage than a five speed manual. This is because the extra gear allows the car to rev at a lower rpm.

Are extended warranties worth buying?

If you’re buying a new car then it’s generally not worth purchasing an extended warranty.

Cars are becoming extremely reliable these days with most being able to surpass the 100K mile mark with no major problems.

There are many extended warranty programs available and a consumer can easily get pressured into buying the most expensive plan.

Do yourself a favor and save the money for future car maintenance. Routine oil changes can go a long way in extending a car’s longevity.

If you’re buying a used car then spend the money on a thorough car inspection. If everything checks out fine then you won’t need to worry about repairs in the near future.

Can you buy a car with a credit card and earn points?

Yes, but since merchants usually pay up to 3% of the transaction fee a dealer may limit the amount you can put on your card.

Some dealers actually pass on the fee to the buyer. If a dealer allows you to make a purchase using a credit card make sure you read the fine print.

Do you need to use premium grade gasoline for your car?

This all depends on the type of car you drive and the age of the car. Regular grade gasoline is perfectly fine to use on most vehicles. But be sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended grade.

The only cars that really need premium fuel are cars with high performance engines and cars equipped with turbochargers. Premium fuel protects against engine knock, or engine detonation, and potential damage to the engine especially during full throttle.

Many people may not realize this but an ageing car that was originally engineered to run on regular fuel may need premium fuel during its later years.

Over time carbon can build up inside an engine and create hotspots making it prone to knock. If your car has over 100K miles then using premium fuel will help protect your engine.

Does your fuel injector need to be cleaned periodically?

Ten minute oil change franchises like to pressure their customers into buying this costly service.

Many salesmen claim you need this service every 30K miles or risk damage to your engine.

Relax. The only thing a clogged fuel injector will do is decrease your engine performance and perhaps gas mileage.

So unless you’re having specific performance problems with your engine you do not need to clean your fuel injectors.

Can you save gas by rolling down the windows instead of using the AC?

Rolling down the windows will actually save you gas. Many people think that rolling down the windows create so much drag that a car will burn more fuel. There may be some drag but it’s so minimal that it won’t affect your gas mileage.

Turning on the AC actually uses up to 3 mpg more fuel than compared to when it’s not on. This is very apparent during stop and go driving.

You should turn on the AC during the hot summer months as your health and well being are more important than saving money.

Do you have to warm up your engine in the morning?

Unless you own a 30+ year old car warming an engine is no longer necessary.

During the freezing winter months you should warm up the engine no more than one minute. It can take up to five minutes to fully warm up a car in the winter. What a waste of fuel.

During the sizzling summer months just turn on the ignition and go. No waiting necessary.

The only thing to remember is to take it easy on the throttle until the car gets up to operating temperature.

Does a dirty air filter decrease gas mileage?

The only thing a dirty filter will do is decrease performance. It will not impact your gas mileage.

Cars these days come with sophisticated computers that manages air to fuel mixture very well regardless of the air quality inside the engine. Don’t get pressured into changing your air filter during every oil change.

The only exception would be if you routinely travel in an environment where the air quality is less than ideal such as dirt roads or construction areas.