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THE 10 BIGGEST CAR MYTHS DEBUNKED | Chaostrophic
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THE 10 BIGGEST CAR MYTHS DEBUNKED

We’re on a bit of a mythbusting kick here at Chaostrophic lately, what with the demise of one of our favorite shows and all. But really, the job of any responsible journalist is to separate truth from lies, and what better place to do that than at your local auto mechanic? Most of us drive every single day, and our brains are full of all kinds of vehicular nonsense. Grab your keys, because we’re heading down the fact-finding highway to expose 10 car myths that you need to stop believing.

Fill Your Tank In The Morning To Save Money
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
Americans are obsessed with saving money on gas, and we’ll believe just about anything to shave a few pennies off our fill-ups. One common myth is that it’s smarter to pump gas in the morning when the liquid is cooler. Like every other liquid, gas expands when it’s heated. So if that fuel has been sitting out in the sun all day, you’ll get less of it when you fill your tank. The science is sound (sort of), but the problem with this theory is that service stations store gasoline in huge underground tanks where the temperature barely fluctuates throughout the day. Even if the temperature did change, it takes a shift of 15 degrees to create a mere 1 percent alteration of volume, which would be a penny or two at most.

Winterize Your Car Before The Temperature Drops
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
If you live in a place with actual seasons, it’s highly likely that you dread the coming of winter. Snow and ice are every driver’s worst enemy, but your trusty mechanic has clued you in on what you need to do to “winterize” your car before the roads get slick, right? Here’s the heat: winterizing is a relic, a holdover from the days when oil and other fluids weren’t built to work at all temperatures. Back in the day, sure, you had to use a less viscous oil in the winter, but that’s no longer true. Really, the only thing you should be doing before the cold hits is checking your tire pressure, and you should do that anyway. Paying a mechanic to go over your ride is a waste of cash.

Shift Into Overdrive To Go Faster
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
Now this one we can understand. The phrase “shift into overdrive” has migrated into common parlance to mean “kick it up a notch,” and if your car has an overdrive function you probably feel like you need to use it to zoom past some slowpoke on the freeway. But guess what? Overdrive actually just puts your car into a higher gear, meaning that it needs to expend less engine power to sustain its cruising speed. Shifting into overdrive actually reduces the top speed you’ll get out of your engine. It’s designed for improving fuel efficiency while cruising, not piling on the horsepower. Sorry, basically every movie ever made.

Let Your Car Idle To Warm Up Before You Drive
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
Here’s another cold-weather tip that could actually be damaging your vehicle. It makes sense that a warm engine is a happy engine. So when the snow is out, many people start their car, leave it idling and then go inside for a cup of coffee. Guess what? Not only is this unnecessary, it’s bad for your car. Older vehicles, which relied on carburetors to mix air with fuel before ignition, didn’t work as well in the cold, but modern fuel injection systems don’t care. Idling your car in cold weather wastes gasoline and adds wear to the moving parts of your engine.

Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
It’s common wisdom that you need to get an oil change on the regular to keep your engine all greasy and smooth. The number that’s usually attached to that is every 3,000 miles, which seems scandalously low in today’s hard-driving world. Guess what? That figure is completely out of date. It was first introduced back when engines were significantly less efficient and oil formulations were more likely to leave buildup. The oil and lube industry, however, wants drivers to believe it’s still true so they come in for servicing more often. You still need to change your oil, but modern cars only need it between 7,500 and 15,000 miles — a big difference.

Red Cars Get More Speeding Tickets
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
It’s no argument that red is a hot color for a high-performance car, but a common argument against the paint job is the belief that red cars get pulled over for speeding more often than other colors. According to the statistics, that’s straight up not true. The most recent study we have, from 2014, indicates that it’s actually white cars that get the most tickets. However, white is also the most common car color on the roads, making up almost 25 percent of all new cars sold. A similar belief — that red cars cost more to insure — is equally false. So go ahead and get that cherry paint job that you always wanted on your Subaru Outback.

Drive With Your Hands At 10 And 2
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
When you’re first learning to drive, one of the most oft-repeated maxims is that you should have your hands positioned at “10 and 2,” as those numbers would appear on an old-fashioned analog clock. But guess what? If you get in an accident, that could earn you a pair of broken thumbs. The 10 and 2 position was invented in the era before steering wheels came with airbags, and when they burst forth following a vehicular impact, they’re likely to impact your arms and hands before stopping your face. It’s now recommended that you keep your hands at 9 and 3 – or, in simpler terms, at the left and right sides of the wheel.

Change Lanes More Often To Get There Faster
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
The advent of multi-lane highways made it possible for us to travel long distances in decent time, but we can always go faster, right? It’s human nature to believe that there’s one “optimal lane” that you should be in at any given time, but the truth is that changing lanes frequently doesn’t speed you up and actually increases the possibility that you’ll get in an accident. A study by Donald Redelmeier discovered a visual illusion that tricks our brains — because we observe people passing us more than we observe our car passing others, we believe that we’re falling behind. That’s not really the case — you pass as many cars as those other guys do, but you don’t recognize it, and hunting for the perfect lane is more of a distraction than anything else.

Old Cars Are Safer Than New Ones
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
It’s an undeniable fact that classic cars were pretty dope looking, but some people also believed that they were safer to drive in. After all, they boasted steel frames and solid American manufacturing, right? Surely they can handle impacts better than today’s economy boxes? As it turns out, no. Modern cars are designed with “crumple zones” that deliberately collapse with impact to distribute the force more safely. The addition of airbags and safety belts has also drastically increased the survivability of on-road accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ran a battery of tests pitting newer cars against older models in head-on crashes and newer cars won out every time.

Premium Gas Means More Power
The 10 Biggest Car Myths Debunked
When you’re at the pump, it can often be tempting to pay a few cents more a gallon for premium gas. But in many cases, that’s just a huge waste of money. Yes, some cars absolutely do require premium gas — mostly high-performance whips. Premium gas isn’t more refined or cleaner — it’s actually less combustible than normal gasoline. That’s important for engines with high compression ratios, which can be vulnerable to pre-ignition, where the gasoline sparks before the piston is ready, causing knocking noises. That said, many modern cars now ship with engine knock sensors that prevent the problem. If your car doesn’t explicitly require you to use premium gasoline, you can use regular without any problems.

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