From the frequency of oil changes to the need to take your vehicle to the dealer to prevent voiding a warranty, much of what you have learned about automotive maintenance may not be true. Consequently, you may be spending more than you need to keep your vehicle on the road and trouble-free. Here are six common misconceptions:
- “You need to change your oil every 3,000 miles.” Engine oil today contains lubricants and additives that extend the life of the oil. For vehicles manufactured 15 years ago or more recently, oil changes are recommended 5,000 to 7,500 miles. Some types of oil might go even further. Check your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
- “Tires should be inflated to the pressure embossed on the tire’s sidewall.” The figure on the sidewall is the maximum pressure, not the recommended tire pressure. Instead, check the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, usually printed on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb or inside the fuel-filler door. Check tire pressure monthly and try to do so when the tires are cold or out of the sun.
- “Vehicle servicing at independent repair shops will void your warranty.” Federal law gives you the right to service your vehicle wherever you like without affecting your warranty coverage. (If you are driving a leased vehicle, you may be required to have all services performed at a dealership.) Keep a service record and save your receipts to prove what was done and how much it costs. Maintenance specified in the owner’s manual and done according to the prescribed schedule should not void the warranty.
- “A car battery lasts for five years.” A car battery lasts 3-5 years but driving habits and climate affect battery life. If your battery is approaching the 3-year mark, get it tested.
- “You don’t need to replace tires until the tread reaches 2/32.” According to research by AAA, tire performance in wet weather deteriorates significantly at 4/32”, and vehicles would need additional stopping room, putting you at unnecessary risk for a crash. Consumers should replace tires before they reach 2/32”.
- “Premium gasoline is better for your car and will improve its performance.” A higher-octane fuel doesn’t mean your vehicle will perform better; it simply means that it’s more resistant to engine knocking or pinging. Use the octane grade recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
While there are plenty of misconceptions about auto maintenance, reading your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance manual and getting the recommended services will help you keep your car running smoothly.
Consumer Reports — https://www.consumerreports.org