Automotive Myths Busted

Vehicles have been around for centuries, which means technology has evolved.

Better technology has brought about better engineering, which means some of the old theories have been turned into myths, which we will bust today. 

Probably some of the existing myths were at some point scientifically right, but as time progresses, they were overtaken by technology and became null and void, or they are just some kind of hoax theories that someone once came up with and was able to convince a big crowd about his vague science, then word spread and got into people’s minds.

We know it’s hard to scrape off some of  these beliefs, but whatever we write is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, it’s scientifically proven. 

Below are a few of the most used myths about automobiles worldwide.

1. Premium fuel will improve your performance 

Just because premium fuel costs more and is believed to be of high octane rating does not automatically mean it will perform better for all engines. 

 High-performance engines need high-performance fuel, which goes down well with premium fuel. But if you run a normal engine, any clean fuel works well, regardless of whether it’s premium or not.

For high-performance engines, the difference high-level octane fuel makes is massive and very noticeable. For a normal engine, the difference may be there but not worth noticing.

If your car doesn’t need it, don’t waste money on expensive fuel which doesn’t reflect on anything. Sometimes this goes back to mind too. You send someone to fuel your car then they tell you they filled the tank on premium fuel, even when they did not, you will notice a performance improvement, how strong reverse psychology can be. 

2. Battery discharges almost instantly when put on the floor

 This one is the mega myth that many have heard and it got stuck with them. 

In ancient battery manufacturing (in the early 18th century), insulation was not good.  Some batteries would discharge when placed on the ground. But as time has progressed, insulation on the battery casing has increased.

We all know plastics are bad conductors of electricity and there is no way they can allow current to flow through to the ground.

People have carried this myth from generation to generation up to date, including battery dealers in the country. They notice you placed your battery on the ground, your warranty is nullified on the spot.

We carried out a demonstration to some of our trainees at the workshop sometime back to prove that this is a myth. We charged 3 batteries and then took readings from each one of them. We placed them on different surfaces namely concrete floor, wooden floor and bare soil floor then let the batteries stay for a weekend. We took the readings after the weekend and there was not much difference in voltage drop which proved that it doesn’t matter on which floor you place a battery.

However, if you are charging the battery, then you need a warm floor. That’s when a wooden surface comes into the picture. Keeping the battery warm at its base eases electrolyte movement, the rest is a myth. Place your battery on any clean surface without worry. 

3. Car consumes less in the initial first quarter of the fuel tank.

We have always seen people in petrol stations stepping on some kind of makeshift hoist in the effort of trying to fill more than pre-determined fuel. First, this is wrong because it messes with the calibration of your fuel gauge. Secondly, it’s not worth the effort because the design of the tank allows fuel vapour to get to the engine via a special device called the purge control tank. This tank has a charcoal canister that stores the vapour 

and then slowly releases it to mix with incoming air into the combustion chamber. When your tank is filled abnormally instead of the fumes going to the charcoal canister, now it’s overfilled fuel that goes to soak the charcoal canister hence compromising its performance. 

 Lastly, the unmetered fuel above the fuel gauge will make you believe 1st quarter of your tank doesn’t run down quickly but the truth is your gauge is designed to measure anything below it and not above it. Myth busted. 

4. Vehicle tyres need to be replaced all 4 at once. 

You are not a formula one car on track for you to replace all your four tyres. You can replace as little as one tyre as long as you observe your tread pattern and actual tyre 

size. Always stick to something closer to the other tyres. Some people would sell fear to sell their products. 

5. I need to warm up my car in the morning before I leave.

Older cars had to be warmed up every morning to bring the engine to optimum temperature before driving off. 

These were vehicles with carburettors.

 For you to start it in the morning you had to apply a chock mechanism for it to start up.  

Newer generation cars have better mechanisms put in place to ensure the engine warms up quickly. They also employ data monitoring components to tell the control unit the actual engine temperatures, when to limit power to the 

engine and when to give full power. For instance, when the engine hasn’t warmed up optimally, the control unit limits power until the desired temperature is achieved. Inclusion of coolant thermostats, engine temp sensors, aluminium cylinder heads, lightweight cast iron and heat retainers ensure your engine warms up within the first 5 min of starting up the car. 

Too much idling of the car in the morning pollutes the environment and destroys the catalytic converter. Unless it’s a build track car, you are ready to leave once the oil pressure light goes off but drive gently until your temperature light (usually a blue thermometer symbol ) goes off or the temperature gauge reaches halfway.

At this point, your vehicle’s control unit will now deliver full power to your car. You may have noticed when you start up your car in the morning the filing goes up beyond 

usual. This is the control unit trying to speed up warm-up time. Within  2min the engine revolution drops back to normal once the car has attained optimum temperatures. That’s it for this week. Let’s meet again next week on your special segment of the motor hub. Until then have a myth free week ahead 

By Vincent Saleh

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