Common Car Myths

Dec 11, 2020Ugo

Do flashy cars cost more on insurance? Will premium gas activate a car’s insane mode? Warm up the car before leaving on a winter day? These are some of the most commonly asked questions based on myths that have been around for a long time. But while some of these misconceptions are ridiculous, others are quite justified. You probably had no idea you were making these mistakes about your car. So, let’s check out some of the most common car myths out there.

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A Car’s Horsepower Is Measured Against an Actual Horse’s Speed

Horsepower refers to the amount of power a car’s engine can exert over a specific distance. The origin of this unit of measurement can be traced back to the 19th century when engines started replacing horses. So, horsepower was introduced to represent a horse’s power. Nevertheless, this doesn’t have anything to do with your car going as fast as a horse. It is simply a power gauge.

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A Car Is a Good Investment

This one is not entirely false, depending on the car you are buying and what you are using it for. Buying a vintage car is often an excellent investment. Some vintage collectors will pay top dollar for them. However, if you buy a regular car as an asset, the commodity (the vehicle) will depreciate with time. Moreover, cars are assets that require constant repairs. And every new model that enters the market decreases the value of those preceding it.

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Flashy Cars Cost More To Insure

‘Flashy cars are more prone to accidents.’ ‘Black cars are more expensive to insure since they are less visible at night.’ ‘Insurance for red cars cost more than cars with dull colors.’ All the above statements are completely false. The cost of your car’s insurance package depends on the driver’s age, the car’s manufacturer, and other factors. Color has nothing to do with it.

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SUVs Are the Safest

SUVs are symbols of strength and reliability. And undoubtedly, one can argue that they are some of the safest vehicles on the road. However, SUVs do not guarantee absolute safety. They don’t have any special devices that decrease the rate of accidents. Instead, a car’s safety depends on the driving conditions and the driver’s ability to abide by safety regulations.

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Lower Cars Are Safer Than ‘Tall’ Cars

The reason for this myth is that lowering a car’s suspension also reduces its center of gravity. So, it would make sense for the vehicle to be safer than taller vehicles. After all, it will be more challenging to tip over. Once again, a car’s safety depends on the driver and the conditions. Although the lower center of gravity gives a vehicle more balance, it doesn’t protect it from accidents. Racecar drivers in NASCAR and Formula ONE crash at almost every race despite their car’s low center of gravity.

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Foreign Objects Always Deflate Tires

People always think that once you run over a sharp object, it deflates your tire instantly. Well, this depends on a few scenarios. If the sharpie falls out, then the tire will lose pressure. But most times, the sharp object plugs the hole from the puncture, allowing the tire to retain its pressure. Only when the object falls off will the tire’s pressure start decreasing.

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Used Cars Are Always Prone To Malfunction

This myth is partially true depending on the previous user and the conditions of usage. If you buy a car that has taken a beating, you are inviting unnecessary headaches. However, some car owners take proper care of their cars and maintain them regularly. Moreover, you need to check the car’s mileage before buying it. In essence, the condition of the used car is dependent on the previous owner.

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Idling Saves More Fuel

You must have seen people leave the car engine running when they have to make a quick stop. The justification for this decision is that cars consume more fuel during start-up than when they are running. In reality, this problem used to be prevalent back in the day. Nowadays, engine constructors have made engines more efficient. So, you can turn off the car and restart it at any time without wasting fuel.

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You Need Special Expertise To Drive a Hybrid

As the name suggests, a hybrid car is an automobile that combines power generated from an internal combustion engine as well as an electric motor. But as complicated as it sounds, that’s all you need to know. The driving mechanism in a hybrid car is the same as regular cars. All you need is the driving manual, and you are good to go.

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Hybrids Are Pollution-Resistant

Since hybrids contain electric motors, they should not be responsible for pollution, right? Wrong! This is a standard sales pitch often made by car dealers to unsuspecting customers. Don’t forget that the car still has a gasoline-powered combustion engine. So, hybrids are also responsible for pollution, albeit to a lesser degree than regular vehicles.

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Reselling a Car Always Ends in a Loss

Like we said earlier, using a car as an asset for investment is a terrible idea. As an asset, a car’s value depreciates with time. This means that you are most likely to sell at a lower price than you bought it. However, if you own a classic car, you can auction it off at ten times the buying price. A lot of car shows are dedicated to these used car sales and auctions.

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Cruise Control Is the Same as Self-Driving Cars

Cruise control is often confused with autopilot. When a vehicle is in cruise control, it maintains the same speed until it meets an obstacle. Alternatively, autopilot means that a pre-installed automated system takes over control of the vehicle. This principle is similar to the technology used in self-driving cars, albeit more sophisticated. So, don’t take your hands off the wheel when driving if your car does not have self-driving software.

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Car Color Doesn’t Affect the Heating

You are probably wondering why the car’s color affects how hot or cold it gets. The answer is thermodynamics. Black surfaces absorb heat more than bright surfaces do. This same principle applies to cars of different colors. If you have a black car, it will get hotter than another vehicle of the same material with a brighter color. Although the heat difference is mostly insignificant over a long period, it still exists.

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It Is Better To Fill up Your Car in the Morning

While we are still on thermodynamics, you must have heard that it is better to visit the gas station in the morning. The reason being that low temperatures force the gasoline to contract, giving you more volume when the temperature increases. While the physics behind this myth is accurate, the reality is false. Gas stations store gases in containers and vats that maintain a stable temperature all year. So, you are getting the same amount of gas whether you fill up in the morning or at noon.

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All Gas Is the Same

On the surface level, this assertion makes some sense. But in actuality, this is false. Gas has different grades depending on the amount of octane it contains. This octane content determines the quality. The three main grades of gas are regular (87), mid-rate(89), and premium (91-93). You can see the labels on the pump as well as how much the cost.

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Premium Gas Will Make Your Car Twice as Fast

You must be familiar with the term ‘high-octane,’ which refers to something taking place at elevated speed and energy levels. This term is connected with premium gas because of its high octane content. Premium gas improves the performance of sports cars and other high-precision vehicles. But if you fill your regular engine with premium gas, the performance will not improve. So, save your money and stick to regular gas.

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Elon Musk Invented Electric Cars

Elon Musk is probably one of the most important innovators of the 21st century. His involvement in Tesla propelled electric cars to prominence. However, he was not the first person to come up with the idea. Electric vehicles have been around since the 19th century. But the discovery of massive oil reserves around the world relegated them to the background. Ironically, the current popularity of electric cars is a result of revived interest in protecting oil reserves.

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Manual Cars Consume Less Energy Than Automatic

In the past, manual cars were more energy-efficient than automatic vehicles. But this myth has stuck with people for a long time. Today, cars with automatic transmissions are no different than cars with manual transmissions in fuel consumption. Although manual cars possess that feeling of originality and total control, they are no better than modern automatic cars performance-wise.

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Hybrid Cars Came Into Existence in the 2010s

Electric cars came into existence in the late 1800s, but the first hybrid car appeared in 1905 in Belgium, courtesy of the inventor, Henri Pieper. Even before that, Ferdinand Porsche and other inventors filed patents for different categories of electric and hybrid vehicles. The patents and early models paved the way for future generations and form the basis of modern hybrid cars today.

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You Can Treat Rental Cars How You Want Since You Are Paying

Most people assume that you can absolutely thrash a rental car without any repercussion. After all, your payment covers the damages. Sorry to inform you, but you are entirely mistaken. Renters are liable for any damage that befall the rental car while it is in your care. And your payment does not cover it. You don’t go to a hotel room and destroy the minibar without paying for it, do you?

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New Rental Companies Have the Safest Cars

This sounds straightforward and true since new companies mean newer cars. However, these up and coming companies can easily buy used cars and include them in their arsenal. You don’t get a sign that says ‘fairly safe’ in front of the vehicle. On the other hand, old rental companies often have a proven track record of offering top-quality rental services. And they also take care of their cars. Moreover, some rental companies have long-standing traditions to ‘cycle out’ automobiles that have been in accidents.

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Sports Cars Are Lighter Than Motorbikes

This myth sort of makes sense since the lighter the car, the faster it can travel. However, race cars weigh more than motorbikes, and by a considerable margin. Every racing regulation body has specifications for permissible parts and weights. For example, the FIA (Formula ONE regulatory body) specifies that all cars must have at least 746kg (1631 lbs). By contrast, a Harley Davidson bike weighs around 408kg (900 lbs).

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Muscle Cars Are Built To Travel in a Straight Line

If you are into muscle cars, you must have heard the myth that they are built for maximum straight-line speed. This misconception is a result of the application of these cars in races that don’t feature many turns. Moreover, it is tough to turn at such break-neck racing velocities. But really, muscle cars are similar to regular automobiles at ‘road’ speed. Don’t be fooled by the name and the intimidating grunt.

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Your Phone Can Set a Gas Station on Fire

Oh, all of us have gotten our ears chewed off for turning on our phones back in the early days of cellphones. Apparently, the waves can interfere with the gasoline, and the resonance will lead to…etc. Back then, the chances of those antennas causing a spark were slim. And modern smartphones can almost never set a gas station ablaze. Nevertheless, just turn your phone off while filling up.

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People in Amsterdam Don’t Have Cars

The biking culture in Amsterdam (and the entire Netherlands) is so prominent across the globe that most people assume that cars don’t exist there. In reality, people over there do have cars, but they prefer traveling on bikes. Most of the cities are densely-populated, which means that cars will cause more traffic on the roads. Moreover, people on bicycles enjoy more privileges than motorists.

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Electric Cars Are Slow

One bizarre misconception about electric cars is that they are slow. One can understand this misconception because fuel ‘burns’ and electricity doesn’t. But the thing is: cars don’t need fire to cover long distances very fast. You just need something to power the engine, and you are good to go. Moreover, have you heard of Tesla’s ‘ludicrous mode’ yet? Maybe this will change your mind.

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Electric Cars Will Never Take Over the Market

The reason people justify this statement is that there aren’t enough charging stations to meet the demands. If you live in a region without any charging stations, owning an electric car might prove a nightmare. But for people in metropolitan areas, recharging is not a problem. More stations are popping up, and the companies are developing apps to notify you about these spots.

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Electric Cars Are Not Really ‘Green’

The main counterargument against electric cars is that they are not really environmentally-friendly. The naysayers claim that the ‘green’ tag is a marketing ploy to attract buyers worried about climate change. However, research has shown that electric cars have a significantly lower carbon footprint than cars powered by natural gas. Even hybrids reduce the level of carbon emissions from automobiles.

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Electric Cars Are Expensive To Maintain

Some people often look at innovative technology as something outlandish. In their view, any new technology costs a lot to maintain due to the lack of technical expertise and spare parts. But that is not the case. Companies like Tesla Motors are training engineers to conduct repairs. Moreover, most repair shops have the required spare parts to maintain electric cars of all generations.

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Tesla Is the Only Electric Car Company

Tesla is probably the most famous electric car company at the moment. But that does not mean that they are the only manufacturers around. Almost every company has an electric or hybrid car division. ‘Tesla’ has become a proprietary eponym, like Kleenex, due to its popularity and cultural appeal. So, if you don’t want to buy a Tesla, other brands are available.

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“I Can Charge My Electric Car With My iPhone Charger”

Absolutely not! Your car is not an Apple product, and neither is it an iPhone. This is one of the ridiculous car myths out there. You cannot plug in a USB cable and expect your electric car to power up. In fact, the charging stations are similar to regular gas stations. If you need to charge your vehicle, find the station closest to you.

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Decreasing the Speed Limit Won’t Save Any Lives

Road users always argue about the effectiveness of reducing speed limits. Some even claim that it is just a tactic employed by the authorities to charge people for traffic violations. Notwithstanding, a driver traveling at 50 mph has a better chance of surviving a collision than one traveling at 120 mph. Remember that the highway is not a race track.

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Repairs Will Decrease Your Car’s Worth

If your car has been in an accident, it will require repairs. But the repair does not have to decrease its value. A highly-capable repair shop can return your car to a spanking new shape. They can even make additions to your hardware to improve its worth. Ever heard of MTV Pimp My Ride or Misfit Garage

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All Gas-Powered Cars Need an Oil Change Every 3000 Miles

If your car runs on gasoline, you must change the oil every 3000 miles, or it will break down. This is not a valid assertion. Most cars nowadays can clock 10 000 miles without any issue. However, changing the oil often is a good practice if you want to keep your vehicle’s engine in proper working condition. Nevertheless, the 3000-mile rule is more of a recommendation than a hardline decree.

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You Must Warm up the Car Before Starting It

This myth is justified, especially in cold weather. And when you think of it, the car needs to warm up after a cold night. Else, it will take time to power it up. But let’s really think about it; once the car starts, why do you need to warm it up? The best warm-up for your automobile is during the first minutes of being on the road. So, don’t sit around and waste fuel in your driveway.

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Dirty Cars Consume Less Fuel

According to street laws of aerodynamics, dirty cars are more energy-efficient. How? The dirt fills in the gaps and reduces the drag on the vehicle. This sounds reasonable. No wonder people drive around in dirty cars all the time. But seriously, the dirt on the vehicle actually increases its weight, leading to more fuel consumption. So, you better hurry to the car wash ASAP.

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Car Wash Detergent Is the Same as Laundry Detergent

Now that we’ve convinced you to wash your car, you are probably considering washing it with home-made detergent. That is an absolute no-no. Laundry detergent is made for clothing fabrics and not for vehicles. They can erode your car’s paint and bodywork. So, you need to visit a car wash and use special detergents to clean off the dirt.

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American Cars Are Made in America

It makes sense, right? They are ‘Made in America’ after all. But this cannot be any farther from the truth. Even some of the biggest companies in America outsource several parts to companies outside the country. Cars like the Lincoln MKZ and Jeep Renegade are not made in the United States altogether. Instead, the details are only assembled in the US.

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4WD Cars Are Invincible in the Snow

Having that ‘4WD’ at the back of your car gives one extreme confidence, especially during winter. But stamp your brakes; 4WD does not guarantee smooth sailing on snow. Even though 4WD helps in steering out of slippery terrains, they are not invincible. Only a snow tire can bail you out of these snowy jams. So, invest in the proper set of tires rather than the tag on the vehicle.

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Steel Is Safer Than Aluminum

Yes, it sounds straightforward. Steel has a more formidable tensile strength than Aluminium. However, you must consider a few things about these materials. Cars made from steel take the brunt of the impact upon collision because of their low malleability. Conversely, cars made from aluminum are multi-layered, which gives them more malleability. Those extra layers of aluminum absorb a large percentage of the impact.

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Korean Cars Are Terrible

This myth used to be so accurate in the past that the robust Korean automobile industry is still struggling to rid itself of the stigma. However, companies like Hyundai and Kia are trying to assert dominance in the automotive market. So, if you are still on the fence about buying a car from Korea, you should think again.

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Classic Cars Are the Best

As humans, we are victims of nostalgia. We always think that old things are better. Or that the ‘old days’ were golden. Although your vintage car’s sentimental value might earn you are few extra bucks, it doesn’t mean it will outperform modern vehicles. Nowadays, cars are equipped with safety features that aren’t present in old cars. Moreover, the old parts are susceptible to failure at any time.

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The Car Battery Should Never Touch the Ground

In the past, car batteries contained lead-acid immersed in glass cells. So, placing the battery on the cement floor puts it at risk of getting absorbed. And as a result, the glass cells would break, leading to spillage. However, you no longer need to worry about this issue today. Modern batteries include a layer of insulation to prevent the absorption of moisture.

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It Is Better To Turn on the AC Than Open the Window

You might have overheard this discussion on a summer road trip with friends. So, let’s take a look at how it works. Opening the windows lead to drag, which increases fuel consumption in any vehicle. Closing the windows and putting on the AC increases the load on the battery and leads to even more fuel consumption. So, next time the argument comes up, just roll down the windows. 

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Car myths are commonplace in casual conversations. Some of these misconceptions come from a lack of exposure to new data. Others are just honest mistakes. Now that we have debunked some of these popular myths, you can use your car better. You can also express some argumentative advantage over your peers when it comes to cars. Which of these myths shocked you the most?

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