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Ask A Master Mechanic: Common Car Myths

Most Canadian adults over the age of 18 can drive, and many of us even own a car, but that doesn’t mean we understand precisely how they work! What often happens is a case of broken telephone, where something that has a little bit of merit gets misconstrued into a myth. At Master Mechanic, we’ve heard it all! While car myths pop up all the time, some are more prevalent than others, and automotive myths that are mistaken for a fact can be costly, or worse, dangerous to drivers. We sat down with a Master Mechanic to debunk some of the more common car myths out there and find out which have some truth to them.

Myth #1: Windows Down vs. Air Conditioning

This is probably one of the oldest and most common myths on our list, and for a good reason: this one is pretty easy to understand and believe. It’s rooted in reasonably simple logic: driving with the windows down increases drag on the car and therefore reduces your fuel economy more than driving with the air conditioner on.

Make sense, in theory. In practice, while driving with the windows down does increase drag, that’s all the truth this myth holds. Almost all tests ever conducted show that running the air conditioning in your car decreases your fuel economy more, even if it is not set to high, so enjoy the breeze!

Myth #2: It’s Best to Warm You Engine by Idling Before Driving.

The theory behind this myth is also fairly easy to believe. Many drivers like to claim an engine is most efficient once it’s warmed up. The fact is that while your engine does benefit from ‘warming up,’ it never really needs to do so idling. In fact, the same theory that supports this myth is also what debunks it. Thinking about how your car functions as a moving vehicle, some parts won’t begin to warm up until they are in use, or in other words: once the vehicle is moving! So, even with the frigid cold weather, we experience in Ontario, the most efficient way to warm up your engine is to drive your car. Your body? Well, that’s another story.

Myth #3: Cars Are So Computerized Only a Pro Can Service Them

You’re probably expecting us to tell you to bring your car to a professional like Master Mechanic for each and everything that pops up. That may be good for your peace of mind, but it’s not necessary. While you should always defer to a professional if you’re not sure what you’re doing or what’s wrong, there are some things you can monitor yourself. For instance, once a month you should perform some basic checks on your car to make sure everything is running smoothly. These include examining all fluid levels, checking hoses and belts, monitoring tires for inflation and tread wear, and ensuring your lights and wiper blades work.

Myth #4: Premium Gas Will Make Your Car Perform Better Than Regular Fuel

This one can cost you money people, so listen up! Performance fuel must make your vehicle perform better, right? WRONG! Unless you drive a performance vehicle that specifically calls for it, premium gas will not make your car perform any more efficiently. Premium petrol is a grade of fuel formulated explicitly for luxury and performance vehicles that need higher-octane levels, so that the engine runs smoothly. So, while filling your regular car with premium fuel will have no positive impact on your car’s performance, it will have an adverse effect on your pocketbook.

Myth #5: Manual Cars Are More Fuel Efficient than Automatic Cars

Automatic vs. manual transmission myths is one many of us are guilty of spreading, and that’s because it wasn’t always a myth. In the past, manual cars were indeed more fuel efficient, but it’s one of those myths that sort of just stuck around. With recent advances in technology and engineering, the opposite is actually true nowadays! Thanks to computerized systems, most automatic cars are now more fuel efficient than their manual transmission counterparts. Many also have an overdrive top gear which lowers the engine’s RPMs and helps reduce fuel consumption much more efficiently than a human driver ever could. Although this myth is not entirely busted, it only holds merit if you’re buying a much older car.

Questions about car maintenance? At Master Mechanic, we’ll always explain exactly what we find under the hood, and what is required to fix it. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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