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6 vehicle maintenance myths debunked

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When major car repairs come up, an aftermarket warranty for cars (also known as an extended car warranty) is a great way to keep your costs low. 

But when it comes to your vehicle maintenance, there are many things you should keep in mind to help maximize the life and performance of your vehicle. 

You may find a lot of conflicting information online but here are 6 of the most common maintenance myths debunked.

Myth 1. Change your oil every 3,000 miles

The truth: You can wait until around 5,000 miles to have an oil change.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has estimated that the average American drives around 13,500 miles per year. If you followed the above advice, it would equate to four or five oil changes a year for Americans who drive close to the national average.

The “change your oil every 3,000 miles” myth is known far and wide. However, it might have merely begun as a way for fast lube chains (vehicle service centers owned by major oil manufacturers) to promote their business. Having your oil changed every 3,000 miles is common practice, but with today’s advancements in automobile components it’s not necessary to change your oil so often. 

Myth 2. Change oil filters at every oil change

The truth: Unless you’re driving in extreme driving conditions, you can wait to change the filter until every other oil change.

Your car’s air filter is responsible for cleaning dirt and traces of metal from oil so that your engine is only using up clean oil. When the oil is clean, it circulates smoothly throughout various parts of the engine and it keeps the engine free from scrapes, scratches and other damage caused by dirty oil. When oil isn’t moving freely, your car isn’t either.

If you’re driving in extreme conditions, such as dirt roads and hot and cold temperatures or you’re towing heavy loads, you may have to change your filter more often. Otherwise, it’s a maintenance expense you could wait to get done until after 7,000 to 10,000 miles.

Myth 3. All cars should have their transmission flushed with a flush machine every 30,000 miles

The truth: Not all cars benefit from a transmission flush. A simple fluid change is enough to keep your transmission in good shape.

A transmission flush is a special process during which you remove all of the old oil in the transmission. With a special flush machine, a specialist runs cleaning solution and clean oil through the transmission to push out all of the sludge and debris. After that, the transmission is filled with fresh, new oil.

Not only can transmission flushes be expensive (it can sometimes cost up to $500), but it may also not be beneficial for a lot of cars. The flush machine can cause damage to other internal parts too. Service centers often neglect to change the transmission filter while doing the transmission flush too.

This procedure causes a lot of debates among car experts. Next time a repair shop suggests this procedure, check your owner’s manual and see what it says about transmission flushes. Consider simply doing a regular transmission fluid change at 30,000 miles.
Do you fear going to the mechanic and worrying about paying for services you may not need? Read our blog about how to avoid repairophobia and how the right kind of extended car warranty can help.

Car maintenance infographic

Myth 4. Replace all four tires at the same time

The truth: Unless you have an All-Wheel Drive car, you don’t have to replace all four tires at once.

When you experience a blow-out, it’s clear you’ll need a new tire. Sometimes service shops will tell you that you need to replace the other tires as well. However, if the treads of the other tires are still in good condition (above 4/24” in tire depth) and the tread patterns are essentially the same as the new tire, buying a whole new set of tires won’t be necessary.

Some All-Wheel Drive (AWD) car manufacturers recommend it in the owner’s manual due to the difference in traction, which can cause damages to the AWD system. Check your owner’s manual for any specific guidance on tire maintenance. 

Myth 5. Fill up the tire pressure to the one recommended on the tire sidewall

The truth: Always go by the recommended tire pressure of the vehicle placard (label located on the driver’s side door, near the door jamb). 

Inflating your tires is a very simple task, but it’s super important for a safer ride, better handling and better gas mileage. Tires have markings on their sidewall that specify the maximum tire pressure, but this is NOT the number you should refer to when inflating your tires.

The vehicle placard that’s on the driver’s side door provides you with the recommended tire pressure for your car. When your tire is flat, use a tire pressure gauge to get the right Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) reading when inflating it. Don’t go just by looking at the tire.

Myth 6. Premium gas improves engine performance

The truth: Premium gas doesn’t benefit all vehicles.

At most gas stations, you will find three types of fuel from which you can choose from. The most expensive one, premium fuel, is the one that has the highest octane rating. 

This type of fuel, which can cost up to 50 cents more per gallon, is primarily designed for high-performance engines, such as turbocharged cars. But even with turbocharged cars, the benefits may be minimal.

Unless your car owner’s manual explicitly says that your car should run on high octane fuel, your car may not need it. Every car has a recommended minimum octane requirement. In the fuel filler cap, you’ll be able to see the type of fuel your car requires. 

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