Have you ever heard that you’re supposed to warm up your engine before you start driving? Or that red cars are more expensive to insure? Most of us have heard similar auto tips, but as it turns out, many of them aren’t true. Some of these tips are outdated in relation to newer vehicles, while others have always been downright false. For the purpose of education (and fun!) here’s a look at 12 common car myths.
- You Should Warm Up Your Engine Before Driving, Especially in the Winter
Out of all car myths, this one is probably the most widespread. Although it does take time for an engine to warm up to its optimal temperature, letting it idle while it warms up is unnecessary. Technological advances in modern cars allow engines to warm themselves up as they drive; within seconds, a newer vehicle is ready to hit highway speeds. Some experts recommend you let your car idle for up to 30 seconds before you start driving—any longer, and you’re wasting fuel.
- Red Cars Are More Expensive to Insure
Approximately 44% of Americans believe red cars are more expensive to insure than any other color. Fortunately for red car owners, this isn’t the case. Insurance companies use several factors to calculate rates, including the make of the car, the driver’s age, and their insurance record—just to name a few. Car color, however, isn’t factored in.
- All SUVs Perform Well Off-Road
SUVs were originally designed to perform well on the road or off; in many ways, they were the mid-point between standard road-driving cars and off-road vehicles. That’s not the case with most SUVs today. As manufacturers stopped focusing on off-road capabilities and more on passenger comfort, the wheels became smaller and the cabins became outfitted with all kinds of gadgets and amenities. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any new SUVs that can go off-road, though; the Mercedes G class, for example, is rugged enough to brave sand, mud, or snow.
- Convertibles Aren’t Safe in a Collision
It makes sense to think that a vehicle without a roof would be less sound in an accident, but automakers have taken extra measures to ensure convertibles are just as safe as any hard-top vehicle. For example, convertibles have a stiffer chassis, reinforced pillars, and special roll hoops behind the seats to protect drivers in the event of a rollover. Some models even include an active roll bar system that’s automatically activated if the car flips.
- Muscle Cars Can’t Corner
Old-school American muscle cars used to be infamous for their poor handling, but thankfully, this is no longer the case. Newer muscle cars handle very well, regardless of whether they’re driving in a straight line or navigating a turn.
- SUVs Are Safer Than Smaller Cars
This myth has been circulating for years, and it’s easy to see why. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “a bigger, heavier vehicle provides better crash protection than a smaller, lighter one, assuming no other differences.” While this is true, SUVs have a higher center of gravity that makes them more likely to roll over—especially during a collision or when navigating a tight turn. They also need a longer braking distance than smaller cars. Fortunately, automakers continue to improve the safety features of SUVs.
- Electric Cars Are More Likely to Catch on Fire
Electric car fires have been featured on international news over the last couple of years, which has kept this myth alive. Even though a damaged lithium-ion battery can generate enough heat to start a fire, gasoline is more flammable and likely to cause a car fire.
- It’s OK to Wash Your Car with Dish Soap
Washing your car with dish soap may help you save money in the short term, but it’s abrasive. Over time, it can damage the paint and give the car a dull appearance; dish soap can also be tough on rubber components. Cars with paint damage should be repainted to prevent further damage to the body; rather than spending the money to repaint your vehicle it’s much more cost-effective to invest a little more in the proper car wash products!
- Aluminum isn’t as Safe as Steel
Steel and aluminum have different densities; if the same amount of aluminum was used to replace steel, it would make a car unsafe. However, automakers factor this in and use more aluminum to increase the thickness. An aluminum body is actually safer than a steel body because it absorbs more energy in a collision and provides bigger crush zones.
- ABS Always Reduces Braking Distance
This myth is true, in part. The anti-lock braking system (ABS) prevents your wheels from locking when you have to brake suddenly; this is to ensure you stay in control of the vehicle. However, it wasn’t designed to reduce braking distance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that braking distance is 14% shorter in wet conditions for cars equipped with ABS versus vehicles without ABS. In dry conditions, the braking distance for both ABS-equipped and non-ABS vehicles is essentially the same.
- You Don’t Need to Wear a Seat Belt if You Have Airbags
This may sound silly, but some drivers really do believe they don’t need to wear a seat belt since they have airbags. Obviously, this isn’t the case! Airbags are designed to supplement the protection of seat belts—and their efficacy relies on the position that seat belts keep passengers in. If you’re not wearing a seat belt, there’s a good chance a collision could cause you to slide under the airbag or completely miss it when it deploys—which could lead to injuries from hitting the dashboard or even being ejected from your car.
- 4WD and AWD Vehicles Have a Shorter Braking Distance Than 2WD
This is a common misconception, but a 4WD or AWD vehicle does not have a shorter braking distance than a 2WD. The braking distance is largely dependent on whether the vehicle is equipped with adequate tires.
As you may have noticed, many of the most common car myths revolve around safety. At Cline Collision Center, we make safety the focus of every repair we perform. That’s why we’ve invested in OEM factory training and use only OEM parts on all repairs. Today’s vehicles are more complex than ever, with specialized parts and systems specifically designed for each make and model. Using an aftermarket part can mean the part doesn’t fit or function as it should, and in some cases, it can even cause an entire system to not work properly. This is especially crucial when it comes to ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features, like Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Anti-lock Brakes, and Lane Departure Warning.
If you’ve been in an accident, OEM repairs offer the best protection for you and your family. They’re also the only way to truly restore your vehicle back to factory specifications. So, don’t settle for anything less! Give Cline Collision Center a call today at 707-591-9909 or request an appointment online.