Car beliefs that are not precise

Thursday September 19 2019

Modern cars recommend an oil change with many

Modern cars recommend an oil change with many more kilometres between changes. This is dependent on oil type, the driving conditions and the car manufacturer’s guidance. NET PHOTOS  

By Mustafa Ziraba

As car technology pulls further ahead of our capacity, many non-mechanics tend to rely more on the power of car falsehoods. This got me thinking what are the car falsehoods that many believe are facts? Here is a rundown.

Warming the engine before driving
That might have been good advice for yester-year’s cars but is less so today. Modern engines are designed to account for cold starts and warm up more quickly when they’re driven. And the sooner they warm up, the sooner they reach maximum efficiency and deliver the best fuel economy and performance. But don’t rev the engine high over the first few miles while it’s warming up as the laws of chemistry and physics still apply.

Change oil,spark plugs every 3,000 kilometres
Various garages and service stations have advocated for the 3,000 kilometer oil change and spark plug change for years, making believers of many new and veteran car owners.

While it does not hurt to change the oil that often, it’s a waste of money in most cases, categorically for spark plugs. Modern cars generally recommend an oil change with many more kilometres between changes and this is dependent on oil type, the driving conditions and of course the car manufacturer’s guidance.

Spark plugs can go on for over 50,000 kilometres and most often than not give up because of secondary reasons and not themselves failing.

The 3K rule dates back to when cars were built terribly in yester-years with extremely poor tolerances in contrast to today’s auto standards.


Regular, short mileage interval service like an oil change was a necessity then.

Today, the engine oil change could be safely done for upto 15k or so as the manufacturer recommends. It’s best to drive cars with automatic transmissions around town with the overdrive off and save overdrive on for the highway.
The original idea was that drivers needed to lock out the highest gear for more responsive performance in stop-and-go driving.

Most modern vehicles employ transmissions that are quick to kick down into a lower gear, so driving without the top most gear around town only lowers fuel mileage.

The highest speed on a car’s speedometer is a reflection of how powerful a car is. See most cars we have here are used from Japan and from a period where the so called gentleman’s agreement was at play.

This was to limit all speedometers to 180 km/h for all cars produced for the local market. While the car shall not go above 180 km/h as it is factory limited, how powerful it is a factor of engine size, engine efficiency, vehicle weight, vehicle aerodynamics, etc.

Thing is, over the years car have become more technologically advanced that most of the decade of so old beliefs no longer apply.

Turning the engine off

There a common belief that shutting off and restarting your vehicle consumes more fuel than if you leave it running.

The bottom line is that just 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine. See the engine is already hot and responds optimally.

As a rule of thumb, if you are going to stop for 10 seconds or more except in traffic, turn off the engine.

Tried and tested tips to lower fuel consumption

Go easy on the throttle
Allocate yourself enough time for your journey so that your drive is more of an enjoyable tour and less of a frantic ambulance driver-esque flailing at the wheel and rat-killing stomping of the pedals weaving in and out of slower traffic.

Not only is it hard on fuel and hard on your car, it is also hard on you.

Go easy on the brakes.
Brake as little as possible, but not so little as to cause consternation to other road users.

Always look up to a kilometre ahead when conditions allow to anticipate whether you need to slow down and simply let off the throttle rather than use the footbrake.

This also makes overtaking easy because you can time yourself to get back on the power early such that by the time you are overtaking, you are at a good pace that sees you complete the manoeuvre quickly and cleanly.

Many people wait until they are at tailgating distance to brake hard, then swing out, mash the firewall in second, seeing the tach soar to 5000 and then possibly fail to complete the exercise because of oncoming traffic, forcing them back, which means they have to have another go at it... and another.

This will not win you any economy awards.
These two techniques will take you places as far as saving fuel goes, but there is more to it.

•Lose unnecessary weight.
•Shut any windows that you don’t really need open.
•Inflate your tyres properly.
•Get rid of roof racks or bodykits that serve no real purpose - they only increase drag.
•Plan your trips beforehand to ensure your drive has the best possible permutation of good roads, short distances and little traffic.
you really have to.

Adapted from Daily Nation