Top Car Myths Debunked


For many people, what goes on underneath the hood of their car might as well be magic - for every car expert, there's a dozen more that hope for the best, or believe things about their automobiles because their parents did. With changing technology and the increased use fo computerization of many parts of your car's engine, some car myths are no longer true - and some as just old wives' tales. We've collected some of the top car myths - and are here to give you the truth behind the misconceptions.

1

Manual Transmissions offer better fuel economy than automatic ones

While this was true when automatic transmission vehicles first hit the market, it's since been debunked. This might be a myth that you've heard from your parents, who probably did have a choice between the two. Manual transmissions are uncommon in many models of cars today - and where they are common, the car or truck is one that uses more fuel anyway. Think heavy hauler pick-up trucks or sports cars with powerful acceleration. Technology and more efficient engine designs have narrowed the gap between the two - and often, the automatic now comes out ahead.

2

Shooting a bullet into a car's gas tank will make it explode

This was a popular segment on the "Mythbusters" show. Contrary to Hollywood action films, shooting a car in the gas tank will not cause an explosion - or even a fire. The bullet will pass through - no fire - and simply leave holes behind. So while you may not be able to go far with holes in the fuel tank, your bullet-riddled car probably won't blow up.

3

Using the A/C will reduce fuel efficiency

While everyone notices that they're stopping for gas more in the hot summer, is running the car's air conditioner actually that much of a drain on the fuel efficiency? Some argue that driving with the windows open actually increases drag on the car, especially when traveling at high speeds, and therefore decreases fuel efficiency. So which is true? Studies have found that an SUV with the windows down will actually use less fuel than one with the AC blasting.

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4

Talking on your cell phone while pumping gas will cause an explosion

This, too, is false. How this rumor got started is a mystery - although wireless and cell phones have been blamed for any number of things. The Federal Communications Commission actually studied this myth and determined that emissions from cellular or wireless phones do not cause the gas fumes to ignite. They further discovered that there are no documented incidents of cell phones causing a car to explode. So talk away, pump away!

5

Filling your gas tank up in the morning is a better value

This myth is one that actually has a little common sense behind it. The thinking is that since mornings are cooler, temperature-wise, the gas that's pumped in the morning is denser. Therefore, you'll receive more fuel for your money. Logical yes? Well, your gas is stored in underground tanks, where there isn't much temperature fluctuation. The gas you pump at 7 am is the same density as the gas you'll pump at 3 pm. Myth - debunked.

6

Hide behind your car in a shootout

So may car myths center around shooting or blowing them up! Bullets will pass through cars - although doing so will slow the velocity of the bullet. Your car may allow you to take cover, in case you find yourself in a shoot-out, but don't count on it for anything more than concealment. If you really want protection from flying bullets, chose earth, stone, or thick steel instead of your Honda.

7

Change your oil every 3,000 miles

This has been true in the past - and still holds true for older cars, depending on their condition. Newer cars, however, have more efficient engines and a different design - and some don't use traditional motor oil at all, but a synthetic designed to last longer. For these, you can go up to 10,000 miles without needing to change the oil. This doesn't mean that you should never change your car's oil, however. Over time, the oil will become full of debris and not lubricate the engine as well, causing engine failure.

8

Electric cars are more flammable than regular cars

This myth sprung up as more electric cars have entered the market, and is based on some anecdotal stories about electric cars catching fire after a wreck more often than traditional ones. The stories center around the Fisker Karma and the Chevy Volt, but the truth is that under the right circumstances, a gas-powered car can ignite just as often as an electric one. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied the Chevy Volt and found no evidence that electric cars would ignite after a collision any more often than gas-powered cars.

9

A dirty car is more fuel efficient than a clean one

The common sense behind this myth is based on likening splatters of mud on a car to the dimples on a golf ball - they reduce drag and make the car more fuel efficient. In fact, our friends at "Mythbusters" proved the opposite - the mud on the side of your car can actually slow you down, sometimes as much as 10 percent. And unfortunately for some of us, there are no myths that support keeping the inside of your car messy.

10

Red cars get more speeding tickets

This one may actually have some truth to it. Red is a color that gets noticed - and although police officers use radar guns - that can't differentiate between colors - red cars may get noticed for other traffic violations more often. It may not be the color of your car that gets you noticed more often, but the type and style. In a study by Forbes Magazine, the most ticketed car is the Mercedes-Benz SL Class convertible.

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