(541) 683-5050
Work Hours
Mon - Fri: 7:45 AM - 5:30 PM

Automotive myths a waste of time and money

As a long term automotive shop owner, I work at giving my customers the proper guidance for longevity of their vehicle without over spending their money. It is a balance that I have worked diligently on.

The one event that has stuck in my memory is when a customer wanted another “tune up” 15,000 after the last one was done. I very kindly and patiently explained that newer vehicles just didn’t need service that frequently. When I was done with my spiel, I was feeling good about what I had said, my integrity, and saving this good customer money. What his response was took me off my feet. He said that his dad told him (back in the 60’s) that a car should be tuned up every year. He told me it I had no place saying that his deceased father was incorrect and then hung up. I never did hear from this customer again. Times have changed many things. Vehicles of today are so much more advanced then vehicles of yesteryear, procedures are different.

Ever since that day, I have come closer to knowing where some automotive myths got start, from your dad.

These are some myths

You need to warm up your car before driving. This myth is the most ingrained. It just is not so with newer vehicles, they are designed to be started and driven immediately. Drive gentle until the temp gauge gets to normal.

Pump the gas pedal before starting a car cold to set the "choke". All newer cars have fuel injection, pumping the gas pedal shouldn’t be done any more...

There is a conspiracy with the oil companies to keep the 80 mile per gallon carburetor from getting to the public. Do you think GM could use a 80 MPG car now?

Sugar will ruin an engine if poured into the fuel tank. It won’t even dissolve in fuel nor get through the fuel filter.Change your antifreeze yearly. Long life antifreezes now last 5 years or better. Your car will run better if you run premium fuel ever third or fourth tank.  No, save you money.

You should not turn off your car while waiting because you will ruin your starter or battery. If you’re going to be sitting for more than 45 seconds, turn off you engine. The only exception would be at a traffic light or some place that would hold up traffic.

Changing your air filter will increase fuel mileage. All vehicles 1995 and newer measure the amount of air (with a mass air meter) entering an engine and inject the correct amount of fuel to that air. No difference in fuel mileage with a new air filter, maybe a little more power if it’s plugged.

As the earth warms, global warming and sustainability has become a big news maker. People often ask me what they can do to help fight global warming and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some have gone so far to get a hybrid vehicle, others have taken to walking more, riding the bus while others are puzzled what they can do with little money that would make a difference.

What I am going to suggest is how to get the biggest amount of good for the least amount of money. Not everyone can afford to buy a new car.

The easiest way is to do very small steps. When a tire is not inflated properly, it requires more energy to make the car move and maintain speeds. An informal study found the majority of the vehicles in the US are only inflated to 80% of capacity. Property inflated tires can increase fuel mileage by 3.3%, an underinflated tires can lower fuel mileage by .4% per pound. Putting that an average driver who drives 12,000 miles per year, that would be an extra 144 gallon of fuel and up to 2,880 pounds of greenhouse gases and the waste of $300-$500 dollars per year!

Low tire pressure can also wear out tires prematurely and will allow the tire to build up heat which can lead to a blow out. Check your tires pressure monthly and if you find one consistently low, have a tire shop repair it. It is an accident waiting to happen.

Correct tire pressure for your vehicle is found in the drives door jam, owner’s manual or glove box door. Do not use the pressure that is written on the tire, that is the maximum pressure for that tire. (On bicycles, use the pressure written on the tire)

Other small tips that will help the vehicle have lower emissions are

Have your “Check engine light” fixed if it is on. Your vehicle has self-diagnosis, it's telling you, "get it checked".

Smooth driving, anticipate traffic light, no quick starts

Have vehicle maintained

Use proper oil

Use cruise control on freeway

Don’t warm up you vehicle, just drive easy until temperature gauge is to the normal range

Empty car of unnecessary weight

Remove ski rack, bike racks, and cargo carriers when not in use.  This is most important on freeway driving.

Combine trips, a cold engine gets poor fuel mileage

Talk about a small steps that anyone can help with improving the quality of life in Eugene/Springfield area and the rest of the world.