Myth Busted: These 5 Car Myths Are Costing You Money


Hitting The Road This Summer? 5 Car-Care Myths That Could Cost You Money 

Warm summer days have a way of revving up the call of the open road. But before you fill up the tank, jump in the jeep, or put the top down on that cool vintage convertible, know which car-care myths are just that:  false beliefs or age-old routines and practices that could end up cutting into your budget and detouring your plans. 

Myth 1: Premium Gas Is Better 

Filling up doesn’t have to mean emptying your wallet. The term ‘premium’ is basically a marketing ploy; the only reason to buy premium gasoline is if your particular vehicle would benefit from the higher octane levels found in premium gas. Octane measures gasoline’s resistance to pre-ignition, an engine hazard that can manifest as pinging or knocking. Even if a car manufacturer recommends premium so that they can tune their engines for higher performance you can use regular gas safely.  

Myth 2: Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles 

Don’t go with the flow when it comes to the myth about when to change car oil:  The 3,000 mile rule lost traction many years ago. Change your car’s oil and filter according to the specifications in the owner’s manual. Period. Go by the book or heed the service light on your dash to save money on unnecessary oil changes. 

Myth 3: If Tire Pressure Light Isn’t On, Your Tires Are Sufficiently Inflated 

Cars sold since 2007 have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that monitors your tires and alerts you if the air pressure falls below a certain level. Fact is, the light won’t come on until a tire is more than 25% lower than the recommended pressure, which could endanger yourself and your passengers, and cost you money. An under-inflated tire can affect your car’s handling (and even lead to a tire blowout) and reduce your gas mileage by about 0.2% per pound. 

Myth 4: Running The A/C Uses Less Gas Than Opening The Car Windows 

It’s always hotly debated during summer car rides:  A/C or fresh air? A recent study by the Society of Automotive Engineers notes that using air conditioning can impact mileage considerably, especially if it’s run on maximum and without recirculating the interior air. But you can reduce the MPG penalty by employing certain strategies such as letting hot air out of the car after it’s been parked and not running the fan at the highest speed. 

Myth 5: You Can Check Tire Tread With A Penny 

We cannot tell a lie:  You should be using a quarter to check your tire tread, not a penny. Stick a quarter in the groove head down and if George Washington’s head has some coverage, you can assume you have at least 4/32″ of tread, which is still a safe margin but be aware that your excuse for not buying new tires is starting to wear thin. Now’s the time to shop around for the best deal on a new set of tires, which could save you a bundle of cash. 


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Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy

Holds a master's degree in professional writing and has more than 15 years of experience writing for national and international entities.

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