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Ask CATS 8: Automotive fact or fiction.

Danielle Williams November 01, 2016
Mechanic handing keys back to car owner.
Our Consumer and Technical Services (CATS) team receives questions about car care, buying a new or used vehicle, auto repairs, vehicle inspection, driving costs and more. If you have a question for CATS, call 1-866-464-6448 or email us at cats@caasco.ca

Ask CATS #8: Automotive fact or fiction.

When it comes to cars there are many myths and stories about how to keep your vehicle running top notch for a long time.  Have you ever heard car tales like, ‘Your car can be more powerful by filling it with jet fuel’ or ‘Your car will explode if a bullet hits the gas tank.’ These myths sound like they are from an action movie, but there are some myths that are indeed true.

Most drivers aren’t car pros. So how do you know which is right and which it total nonsense? We’re here to debunk these car myths by letting you know what is in fact true and what is fiction.

1. Warm up your engine before driving.

FICTION. Back in the day when car engines used break-point ignitions to fire the spark plugs it was best to leave the car running for a few minutes before driving away. But now, modern engines need about less than a minute to warm up. Within 15 to 30 seconds, the lubricating oils get to all of the engine’s vital parts to keep your car running and safe. In this short amount of time, you can fasten your seatbelt, fix your car seat and adjust your mirrors. And in the winter you can clear the snow and ice from your windshield and other car parts.

Tip: If you live in an area with regular sub-freezing temperatures, it’s great to use an engine block heater to help warm up speeds.

2. Premium gasoline contains more energy than regular.

FICTION.  Premium gasoline does not provide more power than regular. In fact, it actually contains slightly less energy. What it does have more than regular gas, besides a more expensive price tag, is it has a higher octane rating. If your car’s engine is designed to use regular gasoline, you won’t gain anything by using premium gas.

3. Do not use cruise control on slippery roads.

FACT. Cruise control is a helpful driving aid for long road trips to avoid fatigue, staying within speed limits and increases fuel economy. But when there’s rain, sleet, snow or hail, it’s best to avoid using cruise control for driver safety. On wet roads, cruise control set at too fast a speed can cause the vehicle to hydroplane when it encounters standing water. Also on very low-traction surfaces like snow and ice, driving in cruise control can make your vehicle spin or skid out of control.

Tip: It’s best to use Cruise control when traveling in a straight line because turning off the cruise control in mid-corner could upset the vehicle’s balance and result in a skid. Also you should avoid using cruise control on twisty or hillly roads because you don’t know what the road brings ahead.

4. Inflate a tire to the pressure molded into its sidewall.

FICTION.  Contrary to popular belief, the recommended inflation pressure for tires is located on a Tire and Loading Information decal attached to the driver’s door jamb, not the on a tire’s sidewall. For cars 10 years or older, you can find this information on a different door jamb or inside the glove compartment, fuel filler door or trunk lid. And for all cars, check out the vehicle owner’s manual. Cars and light trucks made after 2008 are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) that activate a warning light on the dashboard when one or more tires become underinflated.

Tip: Tire experts recommend checking tire pressures once a month, even if you drive a car with a TPMS.  The pressures should be checked when the tires are cool before you hit the road for the day.

Got a question for CATS? Call us at 1-866-464-6448 or email us at cats@caasco.ca