Car Maintenance Myths

You Need To Stop Believing

[But Repair Shops Hope You Won't]

by Lauren Bricks

It’s probably safe to say that anyone who owns a car has a story to tell about bringing their vehicle to the shop for repairs. Some tales are pretty straightforward. Some car owners have experiences about car maintenance that amount to horror stories. Mainly because they had the misfortune of dealing with unscrupulous mechanics.

A friend once brought her car to the shop because she was having a hard time getting the engine to start. The mechanic told her that her alternator needed replacing and that he’d be glad to sell her a new one. 

Although she was no expert in car maintenance and repairs, she knew it was a scam.  So she said no and had the sense to take her car to another shop. True enough, the next mechanic, a middle-aged guy with a beer belly, solved her problem in 30 seconds flat. There was nothing wrong with her car’s alternator. Her car just had problems starting because of loose battery terminals!

7 Car Maintenance Myths You Need To Stop Believing

Crooked mechanics exist, but it would be unfair, a myth even, to say that all mechanics are out to get you. Then again, many myths proliferate in the world of car maintenance and auto repair, and some people just happen to believe them hook, line, and sinker. Let’s take a look at some of the most common car maintenance myths that people should stop believing.

Average Repair Cost For A Car:

$356.04

Myth 1: You Must Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles

There was a time when this was really the case, but not anymore. For newer car models, manufacturers can now recommend intervals of 5,000 or even 7,000 miles. Some brands, like BMW, even recommend for models released in 2014 and beyond 10,000 miles between oil changes. The superior quality of the oil these days, plus the widespread use of synthetic oils make this possible. However, to be sure, check the owner’s manual and see what the manufacturer of your car recommends.

Myth 2: Your Warranty Will Be Voided If You Have Your Car Serviced At An Independent Shop

The manufacturer cannot force you to have your car serviced at a shop of their choosing. Doing so, after all, is highly illegal. You can choose any shop you like to perform maintenance or repairs on your car, and your warranty would still be intact until it expires.

Myth 3: Independent Shops Are Always Cheaper Than Franchised New-car Dealers

The labor rates of many independent auto repair shops may typically be lower, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be spending less on car repair if you choose them over a dealer service bay.

Remember that labor is only part of the overall cost of car service or maintenance. There are parts for which some independent mechanics charge more for, while some of them charge an arm and a leg for a simple diagnosis, with them not doing any actual repair or replacement.
Franchised new-car dealers may charge more for labor, but there may not be much difference compared to independent mechanics. The parts the former use may be factory original.  Therefore they are more expensive than the mostly aftermarket parts peddled by independent shops.

What we’re saying here is that the quality of service should always be foremost in your mind. As long as the shop doesn’t do any kind of hard sell on parts and services and the work is top-notch, what it charges should not be much of a problem.

Myth 4: Do-it-yourself Car Maintenance Is The Same As Bringing It To A Shop

Doing things DIY-style is commendable. Learning how to troubleshoot a car is a must. Unless, however, you undergo the kind of training that professional mechanics go through, you should not do anything beyond changing a tire or jumpstarting your car. Auto repair can get real complicated real fast.  You might just be damaging your vehicle more than fixing your problems. Google may be your friend, but the information you can get from there can only get you so far.

For always, be honest with yourself when it comes to your skills. If you have doubts, then the only way to go is to have professionals do the job instead.

Myth 5: The Latest Car Models Are Maintenance-free

For sure, a 2014 model will require less maintenance than a car that came out in the late 90s. Then again, the fact that it will still need regular care remains. Maybe cars in the distant future would actually be maintenance-free. However, today’s cars still need oil changes, tire rotations, engine air filter replacement, and other car care work done periodically. Always check your owner’s manual to see what kind of service your car needs, when it needs that service, and how often.

Myth 6: Air Filters Must Be Replaced Regularly

While it’s true that engine air filters have to be replaced on a regular basis, you have to be clear about how frequent “regular” should be. If your mechanic changes your filters every time you get an oil change, this is a myth. Some manufacturers recommend changing engine air filters 12,000 to 24,000 miles. Keep in mind that engine air filters, like all types of filters, can actually be cleaned instead of replaced. That should save you some money.

Myth 7: Insurance Will Cover All Repairs

It’s true that insurance will cover all repairs, that is, if your policy says so. What the insurance company will pay for will always depend on the type of coverage you decided to get, and it’s important that you have a full understanding of what your car insurance policy says.

Over To You

Whatever manufacturers say about how virtually maintenance-free their cars are, keep in mind that they will always need servicing by properly trained and educated technicians. Some of the car maintenance myths mentioned above may give you pause about getting the services of a certified mechanic. The truth is you will always need such professionals to take care of your car. So educate yourself and learn to distinguish myth from fact, and you and your car will be just fine.

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About the Author

Lauren Bricks loves cars. And although she spends much of her week writing about them for Streetfighter Motorsports, she still finds the time to hop onto the second-hand Corvette convertible her dad gave her for her 25th birthday and drive to the countryside with the top down.