4 Myths for car drivers that waste your money, petrol and car engine
There are lots of wasteful practices that we motorists practice that waste our money, and worse of all, make our cars even worse off than before.
For example, using “higher quality” octane oil, changing the engine oil regularly or warming up your engine that actually damages your car parts… Let us explore 4 big myths for drivers
- Do you need to warm up your engine before you drive?
- Do you need to change the engine oil regularly?
- Do you need regular engine tune-ups?
- Do you need high octane petrol? VV power anyone?
1) Do you need to warm up your engine before you drive?
Many drivers all over the world believe in this myth that you need to warm up your engine before you drive, especially on cold days (due to rainy or snowy weather). Start your car engine, wait for a few minutes to let your engine to reach its optimal temperature before driving. This is what mechanics thought too and advise us that we will maintain our car engines for the long term.
This is a myth.
Car engines do NOT need to warm up.
Once you start the ignition, you are ready to start driving. It is far BETTER to just drive off than leaving your engine idling to warm up.
Your car engine has different parts and oil that takes different time to warm up to full capacity, so if you leave it to idle, it will experience MORE wear and tear.
If you are still not convinced, despite the evidence shown by carmakers and mechanics, think about this logically:- when your engine starts, it is producing power when you are driving off or when it is idling, so what is the difference? You may as well channel the power into the wheels and move off instead of wasting the power to… nowhere.
Additionally, when you are driving off, you are channeling power and helping to warm up your transmission, wheel bearings, catalytic converter, etc that does not get warmed up if you merely idle your engine.
Your catalytic converter needs to get to operating temperature and only does that when you are driving off instead of idling, so you are omitting fewer greenhouse gases and less toxic fumes, all the better for your children.
The clever motorist stand:- Do not idle, drive off immediately, just don’t floor the accelerator.
4) Engine Oil change- change it regularly every 5000 km
You probably heard this from the car workshop, you should change the oil and filter every 5000 km or earlier, to better maintain your car and improve its longevity.
This is a myth and comes from the older days where oil technology was relatively new, and car engines are still in its beginning. Currently, there are even car mechanics who support using mineral engine oils that only last 3000 kms, for “better engine”.
Synthetic engine oil lasts a lot longer now
Most synthetic engine oil is engineered to last at least 12,000 km and tested to last more than 32,000km. That’s a lot more than the usual 5000km or 8000km our car workshop guys tell us.
You can even check the back labels of synthetic motor oils, a lot of brands outright advocate changing only after more than 12,000km or 20,000km. Even major carmakers or big mechanic workshops call for changing oil only after 12,000 km or 16,000 km
The clever motorist: Use synthetic engine oil, check the labels and go for the longer advocated period before changing it. Its safe.
3) Regular engine tuneups
This is less so for new car owners now, but many older car owners (and their mechanics) still insist on regular engine tune up every 6 months or so.
Do you know what they will do in those engine tuneups?
Change your air filter and spark plugs. That is all for an expensive “engine tuneups”.
Engine tuneups are outdated. Normal servicing is fine
All new cars now have computer chips that regularly check the electric and mechanical components of your cars without the need for mechanics and their prying tools to check if the engine or transmission is fine. Your motor car is actually tweaking your engine for best performance, something that we do take for granted (and most of us won’t even know this)
The clever motorist: Skip the expensive overhaul or regular engine tuneups. Normal servicing is fine.
4) Is High Octane petrol for a better engine and a better ride?
The petrol companies have lots of marketing power on this: get their superior premium high octane petrol! VV-power or Platinium Grade for better engine and a great car ride! You can go faster on higher octane premium petrol. Or you can get more kilometres per litre of petrol, and hence save money in the long run!
Most cars do not need nor use effectively high octane petrol
High octane petrol or high premium graded petrol is designed for high-performance supercars, their engines squeeze the petrol in a tight piston setting that may set the petrol prematurely off in the engine, something known as “knocking”. This actually is not a bad thing, their engines are designed to last through these premature explosions, but higher octane petrol helps these engines to reduce these knockings or premature explosions.
What about the normal cars we drive? Be it continental car, American cars, Japanese or Korean car, the vast majority of our cars uses a normal engine that does low compression, and have no issue with premature explosions. This means using higher graded petrol does not change anything for your engine or you.
Your car would not go faster, or get more mileage from higher octane petrol. It is just a measure of how it can prevent knockings in your engine for those supercars.
Unless you drive a supercar (and definitely need special car insurance), you are fine with normal octane petrol. Just check with your car manual or google your car model for the minimum octane petrol you can use.
In America the usual octane most drivers use are 87 or 89 octane, far lower than the usual 95 octane or 92 octane we uses in Singapore or Malaysia.
The clever motorist’s take:- use the lowest octane your car allows. Don’t waste money on VV power grade petrol.
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