Friday, October 21, 2011

Fact or Fiction? 10 Car Myths Debunked

Does turning on your car’s heater really lower engine temperature? Do you really save fuel by letting your engine idle? Read on for the answers to these questions and more!

“Automotive myths have been around since the days of Henry Ford and the Model T. Some have a splinter of truth in them, but most are pure nonsense. The editors of MSNAutos have assembled 10 gems and shot them down like clay pigeons at a professional skeet-shooting exhibition.

Myth 1: Red cars get more speeding tickets.

Debunked: While they're radiant and retina-shocking, red cars are not more likely to get a speeding ticket, according to the Insurance Information Institute and Insurance Trade Association. This myth is based on an optical illusion: a red car looks as if it is going faster than it is because red is an aggressive color. But a radar gun is color-blind. The only way to avoid a speeding ticket is not to speed. If you have no self-control (we don't either), here are a couple of nifty tips to avoid being nailed by Smokey on your next trip: (1) Travel in a pack of cars to avoid being singled out — let a rabbit speed ahead of you and get the ticket instead; (2) Stay in the right lane whenever possible, because many officers look to the fast lane for speeders.

Myth 2: Driving with the windows open to stay cool saves gas.

Debunked: According to Ford's Driving Skills for Life Web site, the power-robbing effect of air-conditioning compressors is less hurtful than the aerodynamic drag created by speeding down the road with the windows open, especially at highway speeds. Running the air conditioner will sacrifice a few ponies, but the turbulence caused by open windows will require more horsepower, and thus cause the vehicle to consume more fuel to maintain a steady speed. Ford's Web site recommends using the recirculation feature because it is more efficient to cool already cool air from the cabin than outside air. Another nifty tip is to run the vent/fan setting once the cabin cools down.

Myth 3: Letting an engine idle saves fuel.

Debunked: This one may have rung true when carburetors ruled the roost, but not now that fuel injection is the norm. Start-up in most modern vehicles is lean and efficient, and the longer the interval between shutdown and start-up, the greater the fuel savings. Engine-off strategies are prevalent in hybrids for a reason: they improve mileage. Even the all-gasoline 2012 Maserati Quattroporte will be using start-stop technology to improve its fuel efficiency.

Myth 4: Hybrid batteries won’t last.

Debunked: Doubters were quick to question the longevity of hybrid battery cells and cite their substantial replacement cost to scare people away from these green machines. Check the warranty card. Manufacturers are offering warranties that start at 80,000 miles and go up from there. Furthermore, the federal government tested battery packs up to 160,000 miles and experienced no issues. Hybrid taxicabs have reported 200,000-plus miles without the need for a battery replacement.

Myth 5: Engine warm-up is important to longevity.

Debunked: There is no need to sit in the garage or driveway and let your engine warm to normal operating temperature before venturing on your way. Sure, a short warm-up period is smart — about as long as it takes to secure your seat belt, check your mirrors and adjust the stereo — then put it in gear and go. The idea is to warm up the engine on the road by driving conservatively until the temperature dial is in the normal range; then you can lean on the throttle as needed.”

Read about the other 5 myths at


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