11 Car Myths & Urban Legends: Busted

January 30th, 2023 by

“…and when she got out of the car, there was a hook hanging from the handle!”


For as long as modern humans have been around, we’ve been storytellers. Many of the far-fetched tales we spin are for entertainment purposes only, though a few of them end up becoming lore. Here are just a few such car myths and urban legends that don’t really pass the you-know-what test, even though they’ve been around for years.

1. You should always replace all 4 tires.

Do you need to replace all tires at once? Not necessarily. In some cases, replacing just the damaged tire or two tires may be just fine—as long as they’re the same tire size and, preferably, the same brand and model. This logic applies to many front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars.

But you should replace all 4 tires if you own an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle. Models with AWD utilize advanced systems to send the right amount of torque to each wheel, which minimizes slippage. If any tires are different, either in size or tread wear, that system will have incorrect readings and send the wrong amount of torque to the wheels.

What happens if this goes on too long? Your tire tread will wear down much faster, for one, but there’s a significant risk of burning out your drivetrain. As you can imagine, a replacement drivetrain, let alone a replacement car, will cost more than a new set of tires.

Shop new car tires in Birmingham.

2. You need an oil change every 3,000 miles.

Under severe or extreme usage conditions—these include extensive idling, driving in very cold or very hot climates, speeding, and more—your vehicle may need an oil change every 3,000 miles. However, the vast majority of car owners need to follow their normal maintenance schedule, which suggests oil changes every 5,000-10,000 miles. A late-model Hyundai Elantra, for example, should have its oil changed every 8,000 miles, or once per year.

So, don’t let a quick lube shop tell you otherwise! Always go by the automaker’s suggested maintenance schedule. The recommended mileage for oil change service is outlined in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. You can also ask an auto dealership service center near you for assistance with your oil change.

3. Electric vehicles are worse for the environment.

Among the many, many myths about electric cars, this one is by far the easiest to debunk.

Virtually every study has shown that electric vehicles are cleaner and better for the environment, regardless of how they’re produced.

First, EV motors are able to convert approximately 90% of its energy into power, while standard gas engines can only convert about 35-40% of its energy.

Second, producing electricity to charge EVs can be done via numerous alternative, zero-emission means, like wind, solar and hydroelectric. This is not possible with petroleum-based fuel.

Third, the negative environmental impact of EV production (via power plants, usually) is offset after just 10,000-20,000 miles of operation.

Want to learn more about how EVs lower our collective carbon footprint and help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions? Read all about Hyundai’s EVs and the impact of electrified vehicles at edfenergy.com.

4. Electric car batteries aren’t safe because they can explore or catch fire.

We read about EV battery fires in the news pretty regularly, which may lead people to believe that electric vehicles are always at risk of exploding or burning down the house. Research suggests that this isn’t entirely true!

While EV batteries can be faulty and cause fires that aren’t easy to put out, these situations happen far less frequently than depicted in the news. In fact, per 100,000 vehicles sold, gas and hybrid cars are more likely to catch fire than electric vehicles.

EV batteries are also backed by much longer and oftentimes more comprehensive warranties. So, if anything does happen to the battery, it’s probably covered by the manufacturer.

5. Air conditioning lowers gas mileage faster than rolled-down windows.

Using A/C will burn more fuel, lowering your MPG—this is true. However, when you open your car windows, you’re increasing drag, which also hurts gas mileage. The difference is negligible, really, so choose whatever makes you most comfortable.

6. Using your mobile device while filling up on gas can cause a fire.

Checking Instagram or the weather while waiting for your car to fill up is probably not going to cause a catastrophic explosion. The FCC states that there are no real-life examples of this type of event occurring, though they can’t rule out the possibility.

Static electricity, however, can start gas fires. So, always discharge static by touching metal before fueling up, and never enter/exit your vehicle while pumping gas.

7. It’s better to fill up the gas tank in the morning.

The logic here is that morning temperatures are usually cooler, and when air temperatures are lower, gas is denser. Therefore, if you fill up when it’s colder, you get more fuel for the money.

This is not true. The temperature of gasoline doesn’t change since it’s all stored underground. The fuel tanks, cement and other materials insulate the gas from temperature changes.

8. Premium fuel is better than regular unleaded.

Regular-grade unleaded gasoline (87 octane) is by far the most common type of fuel for personal vehicles. Nearly every “typical” passenger car, SUV, van or small truck prefers to run on regular gas. Filling up with premium gas with a higher-octane number won’t hurt the fuel tank, but it also won’t improve performance. Premium fuel is better suited for high-compression engines, not your everyday Hyundai Sonata. Save your money.

9. Used cars with high mileage are bad buys.

When buying a pre-owned vehicle, you probably look for ones with lower mileage. Conventional wisdom dictates that, as a vehicle tacks on the miles, it gets closer to dying. But did you know that sometimes used cars with low mileage are actually riskier purchases compared to high-mileage vehicles? When vehicles sit and go unused for long periods of time, that can cause engine and battery problems, even though the odometer looks good. There’s a reason why you look for a car with “highway miles.”

To reduce your risk, always get a history report and pre-purchase inspection (PPI), regardless of the vehicle’s mileage.

10. Pump tires up to the PSI listed on the tire’s sidewall.

Did you know that the PSI on the side of your tires is actually the maximum pressure those tires can hold? Don’t fill it up to that number! Doing so is unsafe and doesn’t take into consideration things like environmental conditions, air temperatures and your vehicle’s TPMS.

Always fill up tires to the automaker’s recommended PSI, which is usually listed on the inside of the driver’s door jamb. (It can also be in the glove box, fuel door or owner’s manual.)

11. You should warm up your car engine before driving.
No one likes getting into an ice-cold car—it’s awful. But warming up the car engine just to defrost the windows is actually bad for the vehicle. Idling, as we’ve already discussed, is bad for engines; it’s better to let the vehicle’s engine and components “exercise” to heat themselves up.

Start your car and let it run for 30-60 seconds before driving. This will send gasoline through the engine, which will warm the oil and prevent sludge or gunk from building up.

At Jim Burke Hyundai, we are committed to the truth. If you’re in the market for a new Hyundai or used car in Birmingham, rely on us to get you the best price on the best vehicle. We won’t steer you wrong.

Contact our Hyundai dealership near Hoover at (205) 502-2792 to discuss your options, schedule a test drive and learn more about our current vehicle specials in Birmingham.

Posted in New Inventory, Service