Ever since mankind discovered you can stick a steam boiler to a wagon in the late 18th century, automobiles have become an inextricable part of society for nearly 250 years. And in that length of time, it’s not surprising that a couple of myths about cars have popped up along the way. Some of these myths are weird, funny, and even dangerous. And some of them actually have a bit of truth to it.
Today, you can find thousands of car-related myths circulating around the Internet. We’ve got 10 of our favorites and put them to the test.
Myth #1: Manual transmissions are more fuel efficient than automatics
This was probably passed down to you from your Dad: just like David Lee Roth was a better frontman than Sammy Hagar, manual transmission is better than automatic ones in terms of fuel efficiency.
Fact: While the automatics during your father’s time were highly inefficient in fuel consumption, recent advances such as variable transmission technology have put automatic transmission at an even playing field with their manual counterparts. Some experts even say the automatic transmissions found in recent models result in better mileage than those who run on a manual stick.
Myth #2: Pouring sugar on fuel tank will brick the engine
Source: The Telegraph UK
It’s probably the automotive equivalent of diabetes: dump a cup full of sugar into a car’s fuel tank and the resulting gooey mess will clog up the engine cylinders and render it useless.
Fact: Sugar dissolved in your car’s gasoline will certainly damage the engine, but it’s likely to get caught by the fuel filter first. So while your engine may be out of danger, you will need to replace the fuel filter and even the fuel tank due to contamination.
Myth #3: Jet fuel can make your car go faster
Source: Clean Technica
Another fuel-related myth, mixing jet fuel with gasoline is said to give your car added horsepower in places it never knew it had. I think I saw this in a Wil E. Coyote cartoon before.
Fact: Aside from the difficulty of legally acquiring aviation-grade fuel, jet fuel will not make your car run at all. This is because aircraft fuel is mainly comprised of kerosene, which gasoline or diesel engines are unable to burn properly. In one incident, several gas stations in New Jersey accidentally pumped jet fuel into cars, causing them to stall repeatedly.
Myth #4: Oversized wheels can also make you go faster
In the case of bigger is better, having a set of wheels with a wider diameter will allow it cover more ground and, in theory, gain increased speeds.
Fact: Mounting 19-inch wheels on your Ford Fiesta will not turn it into a Ferrari. On the contrary, larger wheels will only make your car heavier and consume more gas in the process. So while larger rims will make turn heads on the street, don’t expect it to turn the wheels faster.
Myth #5: Warm up the engine first thing in the morning
Letting the engine warm up to its normal temperature, especially on cold days, will allow it to run at maximum efficiency and minimize wear.
Fact: Modern automobile engines are designed to get going as soon as the ignition is turned; so as long as you’re not flooring the pedals it would be just fine. In fact, an idling engine takes more time to wind up, resulting in more wear and tear than if you just hopped in and drove off. Idling is also known to prevent the catalytic converter from warming up to its optimum temperature, leading to inefficient emissions.
Myth #6: Big SUVs are safer than small cars
Small compact cars are likely to be obliterated by a bigger car on the road, while the large size of SUVs make them more resilient during collisions.
Fact: Compact cars may be small, but they are actually designed with road safety in mind. Some of the standard safety features you’d find in small cars nowadays include energy-absorbing crumple zones, a high-strength steel frame, and a low center of gravity and mass that allows for better control on the road. On the other hand, SUVs are prone to wobbly characteristics and a high center of gravity that makes them more prone to rollovers.
Myth #7: Fuel additives are like vitamins for your engine
You probably seen bottles of fuel additives that advertise themselves as “cleansing” the engine by removing mineral deposits from gasoline, improve gas mileage, and prevent the fuel lines from freezing during winter. Don’t be surprised if you find one that says it can bring world peace after 1,000 miles.
Fact: Gasoline does contain minerals that can clog up the engine, but they are also required by law to contain detergents that prevent these from building up inside the cylinders. Antifreeze additives are also not that effective, as gasoline sold in most outlets can work just fine in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Myth #8: Using your phone while pumping gas can trigger an explosion
Apparently, checking your phone’s messages while topping up your tank will ignite the gas fumes and cause a detonation.
Fact: The idea of blowing up the gas station to smithereens after posting a selfie on Instagram seems like something you’d see from of a movie, and this case it is well within the realm of make-believe. According to the FCC, there is no documented incident that a wireless phone has caused a fire or explosion at a gas station, and that scientific testing has not established a link between phones and fuel vapors.
Myth #9: Buying no less than brand-name gas will damage your engine
Many people skip over “off-brand” gas stations on the assumption that they have “dirty” fuel, unlike that of premium, gluten-free gasoline found in name-brand outlets.
Fact: Unless you’re buying gas from a back of a truck in the seedier part of town, off-brand gas is basically the same as the ones sold in “branded” gas stations. This is because all gasoline sold in the US must meet the same safety and quality standards. In a test conducted by ABC News in 2007, regular and discount gas are basically the same. An exception can be made of high-performance cars, however, which require premium fuel with high octane content.
Myth #10: BMW owners are bad drivers
Whether it’s an X3 SUV or a Z4 roadster, BMW owners are often the butt of jokes for being terrible on the road.
Fact: Believe it or not, a 2012 traffic study published in the New York Times reported BMW drivers are “the worst offenders” on the road. Sorry Beemers.
Don’t think you agree? Post your comments below!