5 common myths about car maintenance are no longer true


As we go on summer vacation, many of us check the oil and examine the car before we leave.

But some car maintenance tips mom and dad taught us, which we’ve assumed for years, are actually just myths. That’s according to a new AAA report titled Debunking Common Myths about Car Maintenance.

Russ Zolnowski runs an AAA automotive center. He says seven myths about car maintenance that are no longer applicable these days are:

1. The 3,000 mile oil change

“With the newer vehicles today, that’s just not true,” he said, adding that this was myth number one. “You can travel 5,000 to 7,000 miles, and in some cases up to 10,000 miles, with synthetic oil.” (But be sure to consult your car manual.)

2. Car batteries last at least 5 years

This is myth number two, and it is no longer true with all the electronics that drain the battery in modern cars. Think about the cell phone charger, multi-speaker radio, and GPS mapping you use.

This is one of the reasons AAA tow trucks are very busy these days, Zolnowski says.

“Batteries are good for three to five years, depending on the weather,” he said, suggesting that from year three you should have your battery checked during an oil change.

3. You must get oil changes from the dealer or you void your warranty.

This long-standing myth number three is pushed by many dealers and extended warranty companies.

But Zolnowski said, legally, they can’t require you to do all oil changes at the dealership that sold you the car.

“As long as you have information and evidence that the job has been done, the manufacturer won’t hold it against you,” he said.

But it’s important to keep every oil change receipt, he said, in case you need to prove to the warranty company that you haven’t skipped regular maintenance.

A missing oil change receipt may void a warranty.

4. A tire is worn out when you can no longer see Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny

Zolnowski says a lot of people still follow Grandpa’s suggestion to use a coin in the tread, to see if your tires are good.

But this tip, myth number four, can leave you with dangerously worn tires, which could hydroplan in a rainstorm.

“If it’s 2/32 you really start to lose all the traction,” he said.

Zolnowski said they use the built-in tread wear bars, not a dime, and replace the tires when the wear bar is close to the actual tread.

But he said to make sure you keep spinning them regularly, so the front tires don’t wear out too quickly from all the bends. This myth is actually true.

5. You no longer need to change brake fluid, transmission fluid or coolant in newer cars.

You do it, when your manufacturer recommends it. It is generally between 50,000 and 100,000 miles.

And like that, you don’t waste your money.


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