Despite the presence of cars in almost everything we do, usually we know little more than the fact they take us places–and they need gas.
Unless you have a mechanical background, chances are you have no idea what goes on underneath the hood of your car. In an effort to better our understanding of a tool we use with so much frequency, below are some common misconceptions about how to maintain a car.
Where can you find what the air pressure in your tires should be?
If you said on the side of the tire, you’re wrong.
The information on the side of a tire states the maximum amount of pressure to be used, not the optimum amount.
To find the pressure for your tires that will maximize braking, handling, gas mileage, and comfort while driving, you’ll need to check out wherever the car manufacturer placed it.
Usually there’s sticker on the doorjamb, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door. Follow these guidelines for optimal performance.
If the brake fluid is low, filling it will fix the problem.
This is completely false. Brake fluid isn’t like most other fluids in your car, in that it doesn’t get used up as you drive. Brake fluid is intended to increase the hydraulic pressure of your brakes.
When you push on the brake pedal, the increased pressure in the tubes squeezes your brake pads (or shoes)against the rotor (or drum), thereby slowing the wheels and the car’s speed.
Having low brake fluid usually means one of two things–either the brake pads/shoes are very low or there’s a leak in the system. Either way the car needs maintenance, and filling the brake fluid back up will do relatively little good.
Part of the quarterly oil change should include flushing the coolant.
Alas, this is false as well. Radiator coolant doesn’t need to replaced nearly as often as oil, and doing so only increases maintenance costs. Most manufacturers recommended changing the coolant every five years or 5,000 miles.
Of course, if you consistently find the coolant running low, bring your car into our shop and have it checked out by one of our ASE Certified mechanics for leaks.
After a jump start, letting the car sit for 20 minutes will recharge the battery.
This one is partially true. Letting the car run at idle for any period of time will help the battery recharge (assuming the battery is in proper condition), but in order to fully recharge, hours will be needed.
If you decide to drive the car, remember that any excess energy drains, such as A/C or heated seats, will lengthen the needed time for a recharge.
Running too many things at once may in fact draw enough power that the alternator has little left over to give to the battery. It’s usually advisable to bring the battery into our shop where we can put it on a dedicated charger to charge overnight.
While most of these common misconceptions won’t damage your car, they can cost unneeded money and do little to benefit its health.
If you ever have a question about caring for your car, please give us a call. We’re happy to help!
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