5 car repair myths
These outdated ideas about car maintenance and repair could be wasting your money.
Urban legends aren't exclusive to Bigfoot and the ability of Leprechauns to find gold. The car repair business is loaded with myths too, and left un-debunked (bunked?) they can hit you in the wallet big time.
Chances are, you don't want that -- not in this economy.
In fact, according to data from AAA, one in four drivers could not afford a $2,000 auto repair bill right now. What's more, about 50% of all American car owners say they are "hanging on" to their older vehicles, knowing full well that the "baling wire and duct tape" approach may be the only thing standing between them and a fat auto repair bill they just can't afford.
The trouble is, even the average repair for a "check engine light" issue costs just over $300, according to CarMD.com, and standard repairs can easily go over $1,000. AAA adds that a transmission repair can cost between $2,000 and $4,000, while a larger engine problem can cost $5,000 or more. Post continues after video.
Knowing what myths and legends exist in the car repair world may potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Here's a handy list to keep in your glove compartment and break out the next time something's wrong with your wheels:
- So much for the "$3,000 mile rule."Edmunds.com says the $3,000 oil check is a thing of the past. Most new models -- 2010 and older -- can go 7,800 miles before an oil check is needed.
- Dipstick check. The common refrain among car cognoscenti is that you check the oil on the dipstick. If it's black, change the oil. But Edmunds says that "oil is meant to get dark -- it means it's doing its job. Also, different additives can change the color of motor oil."
- It's not the gas cap.CarMD.com reports that, for the first time since the advent of on-board diagnostics, the gas cap is no longer the top fix for "check engine" problems. "In fact, four of the top five fixes (replace O2 sensor, catalytic converter, spark plug and mass airflow sensor) are related to vehicle durability," the company says.
- Careful on the brake fluid. This tip comes from Consumer Reports and it's a common myth linked to brake fluids. If those are low, the conventional wisdom says to top them off. Not so, says Consumer Reports. Instead, get to an auto repair shop and head off a potentially big problem with your brakes by getting them checked immediately.
- Stretch out a battery charge. Years ago it might have been accurate to charge a dead battery for a few minutes before pulling the plug. Not today, as newer vehicles power more than just an engine -- they now light up iPods, "hot" seats, GPS devices and televisions. So leave that charge running longer - even for a half-hour. If it doesn't hold a charge by then, get the battery checked out.
There's no need to fall victim to costly car repair fairy tales. Keep a sharp eye out, and take good care if your vehicle. Do that and you'll be the best myth buster on your block.
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I've been in the car repair business all my life and reading these comments just reinforces what I've always said. Everyone who knows a little bit about an automobile thinks he's an expert and really doesn't know much.....that include these idiots writing these articles.
I am sure you meant oil change in stead of an oil check is not needed at 3000 and can got to 7800 before and oil check is needed. I would recommend checking oil weekly or even with every fill up on older high millage cars and at least weekly on all cars. The oil is the life blood of the engine and if it gets low an engine failure may occur. This low oil might not trigger a light at highway speeds but come on when u slow down for the 25 mph exit ramp and that may be to late. Oil changes are dictated by the type of driving. Stop and go commuting in traffic the oil change still needs to be done sooner 3000 to 5000 miles. All interstate driving can extend it up to 7500 miles
I usually refrain from criticizing these kind of articles, but this one is just plain goofy. I won't repeat what others have already said, so let me tackle another statement.
What the heck are they talking about on the battery charge? How often is anyone charging their battery? That typically only comes up if you leave your lights on and kill the battery. Typical fix for that is a jump start, and you are on your way. The alternator fairly quickly recharges. And if you are using a battery charger on a dead battery, do you really expect it to fully charge in a few minutes? Since when?
As a 30 year ASE certified master technician I have to say that this article was the biggest piece of non-information I have ever seen. If you want your car to be safe and reliable yes get the oil changed every 5000-7500 miles (I change mine every 3k) and while doing so have the tires rotated so the brakes can be checked and the drivetrain inspected for leaks. Keep to the manufacturers recommended schedule for trans fluid, coolant and air filters. By doing this you will assure a long life from your vehicle that usually keeps major problems from occurring. Just sayin......
Today's oil is a high detergent oil. That is to say, it scrubs the inside of your engine clean! So let me pose this scenario to all of the smart guys who say it's better to follow the manufacturers maintenance interval:
Okay, you're at about the 5000 mile mark after the last oil change. The oil is black and it feels gritty. Doing it's job, right? The manufacturer says that you can go 7800 miles before you need to change the oil again. Your mind is at ease while you keep on driving...
What is motivating the manufacturer? Right, MONEY! You drive 7800 miles between oil changes with that black gritty oil, it does one thing and one thing only, WEAR THE ENGINE! Faster engine wear = faster vehicle replacement, plain and simple! The manufacturers make more money that way!
Did you know that today's oil filter's do a GREAT job at filtering the oil? Yeah, they do such a great job that they get CLOGGED!! What happens when an oil filter gets clogged? Not much, except that a bypass valve opens up in the oil filter so the the oil can BYPASS the clogged filter! Yeah, that's right, for about half of that 7800 miles your car is pumping around unfiltered, gritty oil throughout the engine!
They did the same BS with the 'maintenance free' batteries years ago. Way back when, a car battery could go 20, 25 years before needing replacement, that is as long as you watched the water level and added distilled water when necessary.
You see, lead-acid batteries that are found in cars use water like a car uses gasoline. You need to periodically add distilled water so that the battery can continue to hold a charge. Guess what? The battery companies noticed that they weren't making much of a profit, so they came up with the idea of 'maintenance free' batteries. You never need to add water!
That dropped the life expectancy of a battery from 20 -25 years down to 4-7 years (believe me, you're lucky to get 5 years out of a new battery!). It's like selling a car with no way to put gas in it. Eventually it's gonna stop running, and you have little choice but to buy a new car! It's an extreme comparison, but I used it to just make a point - Don't believe the hype!
Even 'maintenance free' batteries have vent caps (most do), and it very easy to pop the vent caps off and add distilled water every once in a while. BTW, you should never need to charge your battery, and if you do, something's wrong! It would be wise to find the root cause of the battery drainage...
Oh, about the brake fluid issue, the author is right on the money! Never add brake fluid, get the brakes checked out! As the brakes wear, the caliper pistons move out to compensate for the wear. As the pistons move out, the brake fluid level drops in the master cylinder until... that stupid light comes on! If you pop the cap on the master and add fluid, you will turn out the light. But when you get the brakes serviced, the caliper pistons get pushed back in, and the master ends up overflowing! Very messy! Yeah, I know that the proper way is to crack the bleeder screw when you push the caliper piston back in, but 99 times out of 100 the bleeder screw is rusted solid, and you will end up just breaking it off if you try to crack it, making a simple brake job turn into a... nightmare!
Bottom line - I'll keep changing my oil every 3 - 4,000 miles, and when I pull up behind you at a light and see all of that blue-grey smoke coming from your tail pipe, I'll just smile and wink as I go around you when the light turns green...
I change oil every 3K miles and use the cheap oil that meets mfg specs. Mobile 1 can go 10K miles or more and rarely if ever breaks down but the thing that kills oil is the dirt/debris an engine generates while running. After about 3 months or 3K miles there's enough dirt/debris in the oil to start wearing valve seals, journal bearings, and other internal engine parts even if the viscosity is still fine. I see this as cheap insurance and doing the oil change myself gives me a chance to look over the vehicle every 3 months.
Keeping an eye on fluid levels is also a very good idea but also looking under the vehicle after it has sat overnight is even better. In general if the vehicle doesn't make noises, the tires are good, and it doesn't leak fluids you're fine. Fluid leaks need to be addressed or at least understood ASAP but if anything is low top it off before driving the vehicle to a mechanic.
Nice, another example of "FINE JOURNALISM."
Thaksn; Msnbc for ur fine jurnalism.....
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There is no substitute for periodic and preventative maintenance for all vehicles and machinery. A very good example of proper preventative and scheduled periodic maintenance is The USAF B-52 Bomber that was built in the 1960s and is still flying bombing missions today. Important to stay on top of all the little items as they are the ones that are going to cause the major problems down the road.
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