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25 Car Myths that Most People Still Believe

Are you guilty of believing one of these automotive myths?

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With the Internet at our fingertips, it’s easy to find information about any car question you have. The trouble is, it also leaves room for lots of fake facts. We’re going to explore 25 car myths that most people believe in this article. Hopefully, you haven’t fallen victim to many of them.

Car Manufacturing Myths

In the world of manufacturing, there are a lot of car myths regarding the process itself and the materials. Let’s examine some things you might believe about automakers and the construction of cars that might not be true.

1. Aluminum isn’t as Safe as Steel

aluminum vs steelIt’s true that aluminum weighs less than steel, but what does this mean in terms of safety. Because of the density difference, automakers will use more aluminum to increase the thickness. This is done to ensure safety.

According to Drive Aluminum, a vehicle with an aluminum body is actually safer to drive. That’s because it features better energy absorption, folds more predictably, and has larger crush zones. The bottom line is that the materials themselves don’t make a car safe; it’s how the vehicle is designed that matters.

2. Korean Cars Suck

car mythsWhile this may have been true at one time, it isn’t any longer. In fact, a J.D. Power Dependability Study in 2018 shows Kia and Hyundai near the top of the list. In fact, they beat out companies that most people assume are dependable, such as Honda and Toyota.

What most people don’t understand is that Hyundai and Kia both employ top German engineers from companies like Audi and BMW. Still not sure? Go ahead and ask someone with a Genesis, Hyundai, or Kia how they like their cars.

3. American Cars are Made in America

3. American Cars are Made in AmericaAutomotive parts come from all over the world. When you talk about an American car company, you’re simply referring to where they are assembled. Foreign automakers often manufacture their cars with more American-made components that domestic companies do. That’s why it’s hard to figure out what brand truly is “made in the USA.”

A 2018 USA Today study ranked automakers based on which cars have the most American parts and support American jobs. What they found might surprise you. Honda/Acura has four vehicles in the top 10 list.

4. V6 Engines aren’t as Powerful as V8s

2007 Mustang V6 superchargedWhen someone looks a big-block V8 compared to a V6, they automatically assume that the V8 produces more power. With today’s technology, you don’t need the big engine to get the same results. In fact, turbochargers add quite a bit of power to a standard V6, making them competitive.

When Nissan released the new variable compression engines back in 2016, we often wondered if V8 engines would eventually become obsolete. Despite the overwhelming evidence that a V6 can be just as powerful, you’ll never convince a V8 enthusiast that they believe one of the most popular car myths.

Car Insurance Myths

Every driver in the country attempts to figure out what’s going to make the car insurance company happy. This is one of those areas where car myths abound.

5. Red Cars are More Expensive to Insure.

Red Cars are More Expensive to Insure

Esurance tells their customers that the color of a vehicle has nothing to do with the auto insurance premium. Some of the factors that actually matter when determining what you’ll pay for car insurance include:

  • The make of your car
  • Production year of the vehicle
  • The car model
  • What body style it is
  • How old the vehicle is
  • Your driving record
  • How many miles you put on the car
  • The number of drivers (and who they are) on your policy

6. SUVs are Safer Than Cars

SUVs are Safer Than CarsBecause SUVs are bigger than cars, there’s a common misconception that they’ll always be safer than cars. This car myth might explain why the SUV has become so popular with families. It’s obvious that many consumers believe this perception, and they’re simply doing their best to protect their kids.

Every modern vehicle comes equipped with some sort of safety features. These include airbags, alarms, anti-lock brakes, driver-assist technology, and more. The safety of your car, SUV or otherwise, depends on these factors and the impact ratings. You can’t believe the car myths that classify a whole group of body styles as safe because there are a lot of manufacturers that don’t put as much attention into making safe vehicles.

In fact, the SUV in itself poses a higher risk to other drivers and pedestrians because of its size. The best thing you could do is research the crash ratings of a vehicle you want to buy first. Then, you’ll know if it’s safe or not.

Car Buying Myths

A quick search online yields many results on how to shop your next vehicle. The trouble with that is you’ll end up with a whole bunch of car myths. Let’s see if we can shoot down a few of the most popular for you.

7. Paying Cash Gets You a Better Price

Paying Cash Gets You a Better PriceCash speaks, but not always when you’re buying new cars. The only time cash matters is if there are cash only incentives on the vehicle. Otherwise, the dealership prefers to finance because they receive incentives. They also like to pad your interest rate to increase what they’ve made.

If you tell the dealer you’re paying cash, the price might end up higher for them to recoup what they feel they might have lost on the financing. If you’re dead set on paying cash for a vehicle, don’t mention it until the price is ironed out.

8. A Special Order Vehicle Costs More Money

Special Order Vehicle Costs More MoneySpecial ordering the car you want saves time and money in several ways. According to Edmunds, you have to settle for whatever the vehicle on the lot has as far as equipment and color. By factory ordering, you choose the options and color you desire and the dealer won’t have to pay finance charges, which might actually reduce your cost.

Keep in mind that incentives on vehicles only occur on delivery. So if your incentives and rebates are ending, ordering might not work for you.

Car Maintenance Myths

When you search for information related to taking care of your car maintenance, you’ll likely find contradictory guidelines. Dispel those car myths with these facts.

9. Perform an Oil Change Every 3,000 Miles

Oil Change Every 3,000 MilesChanging your oil in a timely fashion helps to prolong the life of your engine, but does it really need to be done every 3,000 miles? At one time, it was wise to err on the side of caution with this guideline, but it’s not needed now that the fluids, filters, and engines have advanced.

According to Advance Auto Parts, the new guidelines are anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000-miles depending on what oil and filter you’re using. There are sometimes this isn’t applicable. For instance, if you only drive your car 10 miles each day, it’s going to take you a long time to get to that mileage mark. That’s why you’ll want to rely on time instead. For these cases, it’s best to change your oil twice a year.

10. Flush Your Coolant at Every Oil Change

Flush Your CoolantThis is also unnecessary and won’t make your systems last any longer. In fact, most manuals recommend that you change the coolant every 60,000 miles or five-years, whichever comes first. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to inspect your coolant reservoir at the time of an oil change and fill it up as needed. If you notice it’s continually low, you might have a leak.

Electric Car Myths

With the release of electric vehicles on our roads, the car myths continue to grow. Here are some of the most common car myths related to EVs and the truth you need to believe.

11. Electric Cars are Likely to Catch on Fire

Electric Car Catches on FireWe all hear the stories about electric cars starting on fire, and it causes a little bit of panic. But the truth is that these stories are simply newsworthy where regular automobile fires aren’t. We are used to hearing about vehicle fires, but not the electric variety.

According to CNN, the change of fire with electric vehicles seems to be less than the gasoline counterparts.

12. There aren’t Enough Places to Charge the Car

Places to Charge the CarAccording to Forbes, in 2017, the United States had more than 47,000 charging stations. Over 6,000 of these were fast charging stations so consumers could get back on the road quicker. Compare this to the 430 charging stations back in 2008 and you’ll see there’s plenty of places to stop for a quick refill. If you drive a Tesla, you also have access to more than 1,300 supercharger stations as well.

Hybrid Car Myths

Just like with the electric vehicles, any time new technology is created, there will be car myths associated with them. It simply comes down to people not understanding the innovation and is easily remedied by looking at facts. Here are some of the most common car myths related to hybrid vehicles.

13. Hybrids are Slow

Hybrids are SlowThere’s no question that the original hybrid cars were slow. Just take a look at the first Prius or Honda Insight for your proof. Recent years have changed that. There are even some hybrid models that are faster than the gas-powered version. Two examples of that are the Lexus 450h and RAV4.

With new technology, hybrid batteries are more efficient, lighter, and more powerful than they ever were before. This equals more speed for the consumer. Take one for a test drive and you might just be impressed.

14. When the Battery Dies, the Car Stalls

charging Hybrid batteryMany people fear that the car will stall as they drive because the battery dies. That situation has already been dealt with through the use of regenerative braking. This prevents your battery from dying. When you brake, the kinetic energy gets converted into power to charge your batteries. That means they are always receiving a charge and won’t die while you’re driving.

Car Wash Myths

Whether you wash your car weekly or monthly, it’s possible that you’ve believed some of the car myths related to the cleanliness of your vehicle.

15. Dirty Cars are More Fuel Efficient than Clean Cars

Dirty CarsThere was false information spreading around that allowing your car to be dirty helps it use less fuel. The thought was that the dirt worked its way into the cracks and crevices of the vehicle to reduce drag. Mythbusters set out to see if this was true and found some astonishing information.

A dirty car might actually slow down your car and reduce the fuel economy by up to 10%.

16. You Can Wash Your Car With Dishwashing Detergent

Wash Your Car With Dishwashing DetergentNo, no, no! Dish detergent strips the wax off your car’s finish and causes serious damage. Invest a little extra in the best car wash soap and protect your paint job. If you don’t pay a few extra bucks now, you’ll be looking at a new paint job which is going to cost far more.

Car Seat Myths

If you have kids, it’s likely that everyone has offered information about how to protect them. That’s where all the car myths relating to your car seat come in.

17. Comfort is the Most Important Factor

Car Seat MythsWe hope it isn’t your goal to cause discomfort for your child, but happiness isn’t the main factor when it comes to their safety. You don’t ever want to be lax with the car seat buckles. Make sure the chest clip sits at armpit level and the harness is snug against their body.

The best way to test this is to pinch the car seat straps one inch below the shoulder. Use your index finger and thumb. If there’s excess, you need to make it tighter. Car crashes are the number one reason children die. It would be better than a slightly uncomfortable child that lives than a comfortable child that dies in a car crash.

18. High-Priced Car Seats are the Best Ones to Buy

High-Priced Car SeatsOf course, you want the best for your child, but it doesn’t mean taking out a loan to get a car seat. Let’s face it; some of the car seat options on the market are insanely priced. You can find durable, safe options that save you money. In fact, some lower priced options have more perks than the expensive models. Make sure you do your research and choose a seat based on the safety factors, not price.

Car Care Myths

It’s natural to want the best for your vehicle, but avoid believing these car care myths.

19. Premium Fuel Causes Your Car to Run Better

fuel grades at pumpThe premium gas isn’t any cleaner or purer than regular fuel. It’s simply less combustible which means it works well for powerful engines. It’s not going to have any effect on your Ford Fiesta. If your car doesn’t call for a higher octane fuel, you don’t need it.

20. You Need to Warm Up Your Engine Before Driving

Warm Up Your Engine Before DrivingThis is one of those car myths that has been around for decades. Cold weather can affect fuel economy; there’s no doubt. In reality, the best way to get your car warmed up is to drive it. Letting it sit in your driveway to idle isn’t going to make a big difference. Actually, you will waste gas and time.

The only time you should start your car before you’re ready to go is when you need to clear the windows of ice, or if you want heat for a cold day.

Car Battery Myths

If you’ve ever had a dead battery, it’s likely you’ve heard lots of car myths. Let’s take a look at some of the most common.

21. Never Place Your Car Battery on the Ground

Car BatteryToday’s batteries have a polypropylene casing that works like an electric insulator. This is paired with some advanced vent and sealing systems. With these in play, there’s virtually no electrolyte migration or seepage occurring.

Northeast Battery says that sitting your car battery on a concrete or cement floor actually shields it from extreme temperature changes which could cause damage to the cells.

22. Your Battery Recharges After a Jump Start

Battery Recharges After a Jump StartIf you’ve ever had to jump start your battery and then turned it off a few minutes later, you know this isn’t the case. In fact, you won’t charge your battery back up on a few minutes of driving either. Sometimes, it takes hours to recharge a dead battery; especially if you’re driving in winter.

The radio, heated seats, and other car accessories you run continue to use the battery power, so there’s little time for the alternator to recharge it. Your best bet is to use the best car battery charger to get the job done.

Car Mileage Myths

Everyone is in a race to get the most gas mileage as possible. With that also comes plenty of car myths related to car mileage.

23. Manual Transmissions Offer Better Fuel Economy Numbers than Automatics

Manual TransmissionWhen automatic transmissions were new to the market, this was a fact. But, new technology eliminates the need for a manual transmission. Innovations like continuously variable transmission offer an endless range of gear ratios and allow automatics to pull ahead in fuel economy.

24. Running Your Air Conditioner is Better than Opening the Windows

Air Conditioner is Better than Opening the WindowsLet’s turn back to Mythbusters to see what they had to say about this. In an experiment with an SUV, the vehicle with open windows drove further on the same amount of fuel as the one that used the air conditioning. This proves that driving with the air conditioning lowers fuel economy slightly.

25. Fill Up Your Gas Tank in the Morning to Get More for Your Money

Fill Up Your Gas TankWe’ve all been told that filling up the gas tank when the temperatures are cool allows you to get more because the gas in denser. While it’s true that cooler gas is denser than warmer gas, it isn’t going to help you at the station. All the gasoline stored there is underground where the temperature doesn’t tend to fluctuate. No matter when you visit your station, the temperature underground should be around the same – night or day.

Did You Believe These Car Myths?

It’s okay if you did; we all believe what we hear without doing a lot of checking for ourselves. Sometimes it comes from false information from a friend, but many times we’ve simply grown up believing these things.

That’s why it’s important you research everything you hear and ensure your sources are credible. Otherwise, you’ll continue spreading car myths to other gullible people.

Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

Brian Jones spent over 30-years at various dealerships as an ASE Certified Master Tech. These days he works with those dealerships to create quality automotive content while spending more time with his family near Dallas, TX. In his spare time, you'll still find him playing with tools, cars, and many other "manly" gadgets. Brian's passions include traveling, pickup trucks, and anything related to motorsports.