- They’ve been around awhile – a snippet of advice here, an old adage there. They’re the guidelines that are supposed to help keep cars running in top condition. Problem is, most of them aren’t based in fact – or they’re just plain outdated. Ford decided to debunk a few of the most popular maintenance myths, including the following:
MYTH: Cars need oil changes every three months or 3,000 miles. False: That used to be true, but not with newer cars. Because of synthetic oils that don’t break down as quickly, consumers actually don’t need oil changes as often – more like every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. (There may be two recommendations for oil-change intervals: one for normal driving and one for hard use. Check your maintenance guide to be sure.)
SAVE: Either way, there’s a considerable savings here: Let’s say you’re an average consumer who drives 12,000 miles a year, which means you would need about four oil changes a year under the old formula. With the new extended mileage, consumers need only about two oil changes a year, cutting their bill for oil changes in half – you could pocket upward of $50 a year or $650 in the lifetime of your car and do something to help the environment by saving oil.
MYTH: You need to let your vehicle engine warm up in cold weather. False: Your vehicle’s engine only needs a warm-up period of about 10 seconds – you’re actually the only one who may feel chilly. The engine warms up while you drive. Running your car any longer beforehand is just a waste of gas.
SAVE: Depending on engine size, temperature and other variables, modern cars can use about a third of a gallon of gas per hour while idling. By giving up that 10-minute idle every weekday morning, you could save more than a gallon a month – $32 a year or $416 over the life of the vehicle.
MYTH: Premium gas is a treat for your car. False: Unless your vehicle is specifically tailored to take advantage of the higher octane level in the fuel, you’re wasting your money. Go by what is recommended in your owner’s manual and leave it at that.
SAVE: At current gas prices, drivers may save up to $150 a year by opting for unleaded gas instead of premium.
MYTH: The number listed on the sidewall of your tire is the recommended tire pressure. False: In most cases, this is actually the maximum pressure allowed for that tire. The recommended amount of pressure is usually listed on the inside door panel – check your owner’s manual to be sure.
SAVE: The government estimates that the average driver’s tires are underinflated by 26 percent. Generally, underinflated treads lower gas mileage about a half percent for each pound lacking when the pressure of all four tires is added up. An average driver with underinflated tires could add $79 a year to his or her fuel bill – or more than $1,027 in the lifetime of the vehicle. You could also save nearly half a barrel of crude oil per year by keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level. Per the EPA, one barrel of crude oil equals 42 gallons of gasoline.
MYTH: Buy gas in the morning and you’ll save money. False: The old adage was to fill up in the morning when gas was coolest and most dense because gas is sold by volume and you would get more gas for your buck.
But gas is sold in underground, nonmetallic tanks that typically hold about 10,000 gallons, and it will take a lot of sunlight to raise the temperature even a degree. (However, pumping your gas when it’s cooler does mean less release of vapors, which is better for the environment.)
SAVE: Do your research before buying. Ford’s SIRIUS Travel Link™ sorts gas stations by price on the navigation screen, but Web sites like MSNAutos.com can also help drivers navigate to bargains. In our quick research, we found two gas stations in New York City – less than a mile apart – with 30 cents per gallon price difference. If you know before you go and fill up for less every time, it could result in $227 in your pocket annually, or $2,951 saved over the lifetime of your car.