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Car Maintenance >> Spring-Summer

Car Care Myths Exposed

Get some car care myths exposed. Learn what's true among all those false ideas you have about taking care of your car.

(ARA) - Knowledge may be power, but that's only the case if you put what you know into good use. Sure, it's a common phrase that can be used in many different situations, but when applying it to car care, weeding through the myths can result in financial savings and longer vehicle life.

Myth: My car's motor oil should be changed every 3,000 miles

It is recommended that vehicle owners follow their manufacturer's maintenance intervals while it is still under warranty. However, if your car is no longer under warranty, try using a synthetic oil that can extend your oil change intervals. The number of miles you can allow between your oil changes will depend on the way you drive and the oxidations stability of the motor oil.

Oxidation stability can be measured by the American Society for Testing and Materials' (ASTM) rigorous Thin Film Oxidation Uptake Test (TFOUT). This test is so demanding that it lasts 1,300 minutes. Conventional motor oils typically last less than 300 minutes and Synthetic motor oils typically last less than 500 minutes. One high performance synthetic motor oil, Royal Purple, has been shown to outlast the duration of the test. Royal Purple motor oils are recommended to extend oil change intervals as much as 12,000 miles under normal driving conditions, and have also been shown to improve fuel economy.

Myth: A dealership must handle all maintenance on my vehicle while it is under warranty.

The key to maintaining your factory warranty is that car care items specified in the owner's manual are performed on schedule. As long as the service is documented, it can be performed by any auto-repair shop. You can also do the work yourself; just make sure you keep accurate records and receipts in case warranty issues arise and for future repair.

Myth: My car engine needs to warm up before driving.

During winter months, it is a common practice for drivers to warm their vehicles up inside, but a cold engine will warm up faster when it is being driven instead of idling. If you use your car infrequently, take a few minutes to warm up your car before you drive away. This allows cold, thick oil to warm up, protecting your engine from damage. For cold weather starts, all you need is 30 seconds to ensure proper oil flow and lubrication. In the event of frigid temperatures, driving at a slower speed for a few miles will give your car enough time to warm up.

Myth: You tires should be inflated to the pressure shown on the tire sidewall.

Because of the wide variety of tires on the market today, tires can be used on more than one vehicle, so inflating your tires based on the PSI number on the sidewall may not be ideal for your specific vehicle. Car owners should follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cold weather and normal conditions tire pressure. That number can be found on a doorjamb sticker in newer cars, or in the glove box or fuel door on older models.

Myth: Are dishwashing detergents suitable for washing my car?

It is common for people to use dish detergents to wash your car, but do so with some warning. Dish detergents are designed to remove animal or vegetable fat and will equally target the wax on your car. Instead, opt for a product specifically for automotive use. Quality products are based on detergents and not soaps which are made of rendered animal byproduct that contain trace elements that could damage your paint.

Myth: All oil filters are the same

You may think that "an oil filter is an oil filter," but that's not true, because there can be significant differences that affect both filtration efficiency and longevity. The oil filter is the engine's main line of defense against abrasion and premature wear. The more dirt and other contaminants the filter can trap and hold the better.

Inexpensive filters are typically made with the 3,000-mile interval in mind, using low-quality paper media that deteriorates rapidly for filtration. There are a number of new high performance premium oil filters on the market from manufacturers such as Royal Purple, Wix and K&N. These filters are made for extended oil drain intervals. For example, Royal Purple uses a proprietary long-life, micro-glass media that provides protection for 12,000 miles. You can learn more at

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