By on March 21, 2009

As today’s post on Barack Obama’s Model T vs. SUV comparison indicates, there’s a lot of auto-related misinformation swirling around the court of public opinion. Seeing as you are the autoblogosphere’s Best and Brightest, it’s time to bust some myths. (Or at least engage in some of the usual punch-ups.) What are the automotive myths that simply won’t die?  Our Ronnie Schreiber correctly flagged ye olde 100 mpg carburetor, which pairs nicely with the “GM killed the electric car” conspiracy. On the other side of that equation, PCH101 routinely confronts the idea that Japan manipulated its currency to kick Motown’s ass. There’s also this idea out there, somewhere, that a Chinese automaker is just itching to invade the U.S. market and kick some D2.8/Toyondissan ass with ridiculously inexpensive products. My [least] favorite myth: GM is the blameless victim of a bad economy. What auto-related mishegos stick in your craw?

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141 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: Automotive Myths That Won’t Die...”


  • avatar
    paul_y

    Offhand, I don’t have an answer to this question at the moment, but it bears repeating that pretty much anyone who doesn’t participate in seriously nerdy automotive trivia like we here do doesn’t know squat about cars.

    For example, President Obama is a smart man, but obviously not a Car Guy. Most people are not Car Guys, for that matter. Sure, everyone that reads Jalopnik and TTAC is pretty well informed, but we are a piss-poor sample of the general population.

    Unfortunately, it’s disappointing how ignorant most people are about their expensive piece of non-real-estate property.

    Ok, so I’ll backtrack– I wish to debunk the myth that normal people are as well-informed about cars as TTAC commenters and contributors are. That is simply untrue.

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    My wife’s theory on cars is probably one that a lot of wives share. My sister has a ________ therefore it must be good. In this case it’s Ford Focus. Her sister is an ass.

    My mother had a theory — blue cars have a lot of zip.
    We had a blue Buick at one time and it was pretty quick for it’s day. Oh also any noise from the engine was attributed to the tappets. She did like my Chrysler Fifth Avenue Mark Cross Edition because she felt regal when riding in the back seat. Often when I would pick her up and just me driving she still wanted to sit in the back and practice her Elizabethan wave to her subjects.

    When I hear these non car theories I just go banannas. Where’s your proof and research.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    My mom thinks Nissans overheat alot because they all have turbos. Also thinks Hondas are cheap versions of Toyota.

    Having a black car means you are in a gang and a drug dealer and people will shoot you if you’re in the wrong ‘hood. Cadillacs get 11 MPG. Even the new ones.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    A persistent myth: A friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend’s father’s business partner bought a new Oldsmobile (usually an Olds, but any other make will do) that got over 50 miles per gallon (your story’s mileage may vary).

    The car’s owner wrote a glowing letter to the manufacturer. Not long after, two official-looking GM guys in lab coats show up at his door to “test” his wonder car; when the car is returned, it gets normal mileage. It was a prototype that was mistakenly released to the public…part of a global conspiracy between the oil companies and the automakers, no doubt.

    Alternate ending: Owner wakes one morning to see two guys in his driveway, tinkering under the hood of his car. He chases after them, but they get away. Alas, the car gets normal mileage after the incident.

    BTW, this one is so common that, as a practical joke, a friend’s father actually put a gallon or two of gas into his business partner’s new car every day. Once everyone got tired of hearing how wonderful his new car was, my friend’s father started siphoning gas out of the tank…and never heard a word about the dismal mileage he was then getting.

  • avatar
    kaleun

    The myth that old big cars are safer, even when they don’t have airbags and would not survive any modern crash-test.

    The myth that the old cars all got 50 mpg in the city. (at that time gas was 2ct/gallon,.. like anyone was calculating mileage then anyway)

    The myth that you need 3,000 mile oil changes.
    (even when the car has a maintenance minder, or states 7,500 miles)

    The myth that leaded gas was much better.

    The myth that Saab builts sport cars because Saab was founded by aviation engineers (true, those came from aviation, but built tractors first… not really sporty). Oh, and the myth that a 2009 Saab still would have qualities like a 1990 Saab.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    The myth that anybody that lives in a city with snow would be crazy to drive a RWD car

  • avatar
    Ralph Kinney Bennett

    Well, back to that Model T for a moment. Many people, journalists in particular, love to quote Henry Ford that Model T buyers “can have any color they want as long as its black.” Nobody’s ever been able to pin that quote down. The initial Model Ts were offered in a variety of colors. But, as the car’s popularity took off and production increased, paint technology was way behind the curve. The paint took too long to dry. The only color that would dry quickly was “Japan black” (o-o-oh, what mysterious portent can we read into that name?)so, from the 1913 model year on, black became the default color for the T. Once Dupont came up with fast-drying Duco lacquer finishes in 1924, all cars, including Fords, were available in a wide range of colors. And by that time, Ford needed whatever edge it could get to keep selling the T, which was becoming outmoded and would be out of production by the end of the decade.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Biggest myth: “If if’s foreign, its automatically good. If its American, it must be junk.”

    Another: “we live where it snows once or twice a year, we need all wheel drive for security.”

    Total Fave: “Bigger is always safer.”

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Since we’re doing some myth busting here (Discovery Channel, please don’t sue), how about the myth that all coupes are sports cars? I talked to one girl who always referred to her Dodge Avenger (the old one) as a sports car. Sports cars have only two seats, with the 911 being the only exception that I can think of. The Mustang is not a sports car, the Camaro/Firebird is not a sports car. And what about the myth that spoilers make your car go faster. On the precious few functional spoilers, they increase downforce, thus increasing drag, thus making the car SLOWER overall, in terms of top speed. Not to mention the drag from the Superbird-sized fake spoilers on old Civics.

  • avatar
    skor

    My 80 year old neighbor swears that America, in general, and GM, specifically, are blameless victims of, “Those god damn commie unions!”

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    Buzzcog….great post, I heard that one several times back in the day. And people actually believed it.

    Along the same vein; the Big 3 engineers had carburetors on the shelf that would get 100MPG in any car but kept them secretly hidden in a total conspiracy with the oil companies.

    How about this myth; “the car always runs better after going thru the car wash”, my wife swears by this one.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Biggest Myth I’ve seen is that people believe the Toyota Prius is a highly profitable (variable margin) vehicle for Toyota with an MSRP in the $20s, but the same people believe a Volt with a MSRP in the $40s won’t have a business-worthy variable margin.

  • avatar
    pleiter

    I have 2, from my ’66 Olds motor-head friends:
    1) Were swapping a 455 in for the original motor, but the 455 was from a car with a THM and they wanted to keep the rock crusher manual transmission. There was no pilot-pin hole in the crank for the lay shaft. They were having trouble drilling the hole in the hardened crank. The 455 was in an expropriated shopping cart as a motor stand, they started in up, and shoved the drill bit at the crank as the motor spun.
    2) They were our drinking a LOT of beer, late, and were headed home when they noticed a coolant leak. Not having a source of pure water, they, um, improvised with what was in hand. And only incurred slight burn marks while near the radiator cap. Worked like a champ.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    I almost forgot the myth that Detroit doesn’t innovate. I have an example of an innovative Detroit product right in the driveway: the Saturn SL. A steel spaceframe covered by dent-proof plastic skin. A 5-speed automatic transmission (really a 4-sp with two second gears), not to mention an all-aluminum DOHC 16v engine with a lost-foam cast block. Unfortunately, most innovative Detroit products are really half-assed. The interior is primarily hard black plastic, the innovative engine sounds like crap, the 5-sp auto shifts roughly sometimes, and the steering is lifeless and artificially heavy.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    One of my all-time favorites;

    Dex-Cool normal service interval only requires a flush/fill every 5 years or 75,000 miles, whichever comes first.

    Buh-wah-ha-ha-ha-ha!! How about the third change option, when your entire cooling system is filled with Jello and the car constantly overheats.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Second biggest myth occurs anytime survey respondent or random commenter asserts that they would be interested in purchasing a certain vehicle.

    In reality the greatest indicator that someone will *not* buy a car is when they submit an anonymous comment that they would be interested in a vehicle if it were available in the market.

    When you read between the lines – these anonymous comments on “potential demand” actually represent the ideas of an individual who finds fault in everything and will not be satisfied with any vehicle. Their ideal vehicle must meet a set of criteria that will never reasonable to attain, and as a result, catering to them is a waste of time and resources.

    Sure these people will ultimately buy something (because ideally they still require transportation or want automotive excellence), but the vehicle they purchase will not be anything like the ones they claimed to have wanted 24 months prior.

    Which leads to the next biggest myth: Everybody knows somebody who wants or had purchased _________ in the past, but this person is now upset that _________ isn’t in the marketplace. If a company were to build _________ tomorrow they would have lots of customers.

  • avatar
    Ralph Kinney Bennett

    It’s me again. I forgot a couple of very big ones that had currency when I was in high school (the late 1950s) and have persisted in various forms in various places. First, the car with the “sealed hood.” It ran perfectly, performed wonderfully, but nobody could tinker with it. This was often said to be a Rolls-Royce.

    And then there was the one about the guy whose ordinary Ford or Chevy turned out to have been delivered with the “special police engine,” which enabled him to be outrun everyone. Do we need to get into that fabled “brand new” Thunderbird that was for sale for $500 because the owner had died in it and they couldn’t get the “smell of death” of it?

    My Uncle George used to tell me how, when he was a kid, he was amazed at how many Model T owners had their cars break down on a lonely road, only to have a kindly passer-by stop, detect their problem and fix it on the spot with whatever tools and materials were at hand (“bailing wire” seems always to have been available). This stranger always turned out to have been Henry Ford himself.

  • avatar
    Winklovic

    The driver’s side windshield wiper never works as well as the passenger side wiper.

  • avatar

    My favorite myth: that the Nissan GT-R that rang the ‘Ring in 7:29 was a standard production car, just the same as Bobby the Noogler can buy in California.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Myth that BMW transmissions does not require oil change, since they’re sealed for life! When BMW will give lifetime warranty for the transmission then we might stop changing oil in it.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    Myth #1) Car batteries left on concrete will discharge overnight.

    Myth #2) All new cars need their “break-in oil” changed after the first 500 – 1000 miles.

    Myth #3) If you put anything in the tailpipe of a car, like a banana or potato, and then start it, the car will explode.

  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    In the electric car arena, there are plenty of myths going around. Some made it into the “Who Killed The Electric Car?” movie. My favorite is that Chevron bought the rights to the nickel metal hydride batteries invented by Stan Ovshinsky, and is sitting on them. Except for that foul deed, the world would now be driving electric cars.

  • avatar
    dzwax

    Americans won’t buy small diesel cars or trucks.

  • avatar
    red5

    I’m going to second the “old cars are safer than new cars because they didn’t get all broken into pieces when wrecked” myth. I thought this one was dying out with older drivers, but I heard this same myth from a 25 year old (educated) co-worker. I tried explaing that modern cars crumple so that you don’t, but he wasn’t sold.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    1. That huge wheels, spoilers, cat backs, tinted windows, etc, make your car go faster.

    2. That the stuff mentioned in no. 1 (plus after market sound systems) will improve the future retail value of your car.

    3. That cars used to be better and cheaper.

  • avatar
    mel23

    My jackass uncle enjoys feeling that everybody is out to screw him, so he likes to claim that the dealers ‘re-title’ the unsold new cars every year; e.g. re-titling the ’08s as ’09s. This in spite of repeated explanations that the model year is in the VIN, the VIN is recorded in various places on the vehicle and that there is a heavy paper trail back up the line which would make this fraud rather easy to prove. Once though, after reciting his set of facts, he paused and said “or maybe they don’t, I don’t know”. But that almost-enlightenment was just temporary. Of course he’s way too smart to ever fall for this scam; it would be interesting to hear the conversation with the insurance company when trying to insure such a beast.

    As an alternative to the magic carb, there’s the story that ‘they’ could have gotten cars to run on water by now if they’d wanted to.

  • avatar
    mel23

    The driver’s side windshield wiper never works as well as the passenger side wiper.

    Wait a minute, that one’s true; at least on my TB.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    @tesla deathwatcher :

    “My favorite is that Chevron bought the rights to the nickel metal hydride batteries invented by Stan Ovshinsky”

    There is, unfortunately, a kernel of truth to this insofar as Chevron is 50% owner of Cobasys:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovonics#Patent_encumberance

    …not that I think that’s what killed the electric car.

    My two favorite automotive myths are more lifestyle myths.

    Myth #1: I need a Ford Tyrannosaurus/GM Gargantua/whatever SUV for [insert task that constitutes 0.05% of vehicles duty cycle]. Of course, 99.5% of the time, said vehicle (very inefficiently) hauls 1 or 2 people.

    Myth #2: Because I’m driving a 4WD/AWD vehicle, I’m invincible in inclement weather.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    dastanley,
    don’t know about other cars, but BMW E46 ///M 3 and E39 ///M5 have a break in period and come with a sticker on a windshield informing of it. Also they required first oil change at 2,500 kilometers.

  • avatar
    sightline

    @Rev Junkie

    Sports cars have only two seats, with the 911 being the only exception that I can think of.

    To me, that’s a myth right there. I don’t think the number of seats have anything to do with what makes a sports car: the e46 M3 CSL is a sports car, so was the Supra Turbo, 968, and 959. The McLaren F1 had three seats; that is definitely a sports car. Conversely, the absence of rear seats says little, I doubt anyone on this forum would classify an SL500 as a sports car.

    Those are all cars you could track at high speeds with relatively minor modifications; to me that’s the true definition of a sports car.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    I have a co-worker who refuses to ever drive something smaller than a Tahoe because she thinks it would be unsafe. She even said that driving a small car when you have children is irresponsible. Wow. The “bigger is safer” myth is alive and well.

    I don’t have any hard data on this, but how many roll-over accidents do you hear about that involve big SUVs versus small cars? I have a friend whose wife will never again drive a small car because she got in a serious accident on the freeway while driving one. Did her car flip? No. Was she severely injured? No. Does this make sense? No. Still, many people believe small cars are unsafe.

    Paul W. Thanks for mentioning the tuning myths. As someone who is interested in performance tuning, These myths drive me nuts. I see a lot of dumb kids driving Hondas with huge body kits. I tire of advertisements that claim that using their brand of spark plug, radiator heat shield, or motor oil will result in “massive horsepower gains”.

    Some people also think that lowering your ride height as much as possible will always improve your car’s handling.

    On a related topic, some people actually think that installing racing seats in your car can kill you if your car gets flipped because your factory seat is designed to instantly recline when the roof crushes in, thus getting your head out of the way and saving your life. No, I’m not making this up.

    As far as the Model-T thing goes, I’d be willing to bet that they got better gas mileage than today’s SUVs because they only weighed a fraction of the amount modern cars weigh.

  • avatar
    the duke

    kaleun:

    The myth that the old cars all got 50 mpg in the city. (at that time gas was 2ct/gallon,.. like anyone was calculating mileage then anyway)

    The myth that Gasoline was cheapest in the sixties. When I payed $.98 per gallon in 1998 it was cheaper, in terms of Consumer Index buying power, than gas in 1969 (average price $.35 = $1.59 in 1999 dollars). Same goes for when it fell to $1.50 this year. So when gas was cheap, people bought SUV’s in the 90′s instead of big block sedans.

    And I third the “old cars are safer”. Yes, the fender sheet metal was thicker, but side door beams, crumple zones, even collapsible steering columns were nowhere to been seen. I’d rather crash in my Mazda3 than my 1962 Studebaker any day (aside from parts being slightly easier to get for the Mazda).

  • avatar
    Theodore

    Every time the engine pings, or the check engine light comes on, it’s “bad gas.”

  • avatar
    MBella

    I was going to say the battery on the concrete one.

    I don’t get how people can talk about how good and safe cars used to be. Look at the Toyota IQ video posted here a few weeks ago. It’s amazing how good a little golf cart of a car can do in an accident today, and what can happen in large cars from years ago.

  • avatar
    gusplus

    BMWs don’t have turn signals.

  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    buzzliteyear, you are correct that, like many myths, there is a kernel of truth to the myth that Chevron has kept nickel metal hydride batteries from cars. But only a kernel. That conspiracy theory is not true.

    How about this one? The size of the car is inversely proportional to the size of the driver. Works for my wife. She’s five foot two, 95 pounds, and drives an Acura MDX.

    Or a variation — the size of the pickup truck is inversely proportional to the size of the driver’s, ummm, let’s see, … well, you know.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    An extension of the earlier cited myth about Rolls Royces having sealed hoods: the RR factory would fly a mechanic anywhere in the world (at its expense) to unseal the RR hood and repair it.

  • avatar
    italianstallion

    Americans don’t like hatchbacks or wagons.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Saturn’s S series never had a 5 speed automatic. It was a 4 speed.With economy and performance modes. The 03 and 04 ION sedan used an actual 5 speed auto from Aisin.

    My favorite: that because GM codes the S Series as a “Z” platform that it is somehow related to the Corvair.

    Urban legends become urban legends because people want them to be true and there is just enough 1st person knowledge and possibility in the statement.

    The early Chevy Sprint Metro [aka Suzuki] 3 Cyl 5 speed OD was EPA rated 54 mpg city and 58 hwy. [Consumer Guide New Car Year Book 1988]. So that 50 MPG city claim isn’t a myth.Technically.

    1.0, litre,1600 lbs. CG got 42mpg + in mostly city driving.

    I doubt anyone ever said all the old cars got 50 mpg in the city. That’s beyond ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Darrencardinal1

    to Holydonut:

    Amen brother, I have noticed this too and am glad someone pointed it out.

    I remember reading a review of the Miata and the guy said he always wanted a modern equivalent of the British roadster and would buy one, but didn’t buy it in the end because he didn’t like the way the rearview mirror was right in the middle. Maybe he wanted it taped to his forehead.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    CAFE saves gas.

    Corn-based ethanol is a viable alternative to gasoline.

    A tiny bottle of magic oil added after each oil change will give better mileage, power, and lubrication.

  • avatar
    derm81

    Myth: The entire auto industry is leaving Michigan

    Kinda why Michigan was chosen to be the home of Daimler’s new R & D center over SC, CA, TN and NC. The planning, brainpower, engineering and development will remain a huge force in Michigan. That’s not going to change regardless of what Michael Randle or Richard Shelby say about it. You might see more grunt work move to the South but you will not see a huge amount of brainpower migrate that way, at least with the auto indusrty.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    The British know how to do a reliable electrical system.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Putting magnets on fuel lines will give you better mileage.

    You always have to run your fuel down to empty so your tank doesn’t have all that “old” gas in it.

    red5 :
    March 21st, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I’m going to second the “old cars are safer than new cars because they didn’t get all broken into pieces when wrecked” myth. I thought this one was dying out with older drivers, but I heard this same myth from a 25 year old (educated) co-worker. I tried explaing that modern cars crumple so that you don’t, but he wasn’t sold.

    My 19 y/o neighbor kid would have disputed that. Last year he was killed when he got drunk and rear ended an old Packard. I saw the aftermath. The Packard was in remarkably good condition while the Civic looked like an aluminum foil ball.

  • avatar
    FrustratedConsumer

    Besides the battery on concrete one, the biggest myth I still hear today is that putting aircraft fuel in your car makes it go faster.

  • avatar
    TEW

    My favorite is by having a ton of spinning air in your engine you will have more horsepower and better gas mileage. I love that infomercial.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    on this very page there’s an ad by Google from Econoaid that claims to reduce fuel consumption, can we add it to the list of other devices that claim the same?

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I guess there are still some people out there who refuse to wear seat belts “because it is safer to be thrown from a car in a crash” or some such.

  • avatar
    twonius

    That you get better gas mileage on premium.

  • avatar
    HankScorpio

    1. That all Toyota vehicles are of superior quality to everything else made. After working with the bastards, I saw the corners they cut because they can rely on the “Myth of Toyota”.
    2. I bought X car in 19xx and it broke down all the time, therefore I will never buy from that manufacturer again. (However, I am just as guilty of this.)
    3. I don’t like that people in the tech field seems to think that it would be simple to launch a startup car company, make a revolutionary car (electric/hybrid/fuel cell/hydrogen, etc) and rule the world. Making cars is NOT easy, Tesla and Elon Musk will realize this soon.
    4. Another vote for the big oil/car company conspiracy theories and the “old big cars are better/safer” nuts.
    5. Many people I know take the dealers word when they are told that the 15K mile service will cost $750. For a Toyota Camry.
    6. The myth that you do not need a quality labor force to properly build a car in a JIT environment. There is a reason that transplant auto workers are paid well. They are expected to do an almost flawless job assembling vehicles and contrary to popular opinion, it is hard, demanding work. UAW shops may be different, but I have not been in one in years.
    7. I disagree with the anti-4wd people. I think if you live up north where there is significant snow, you need to have access to at least one 4WD/AWD or snow tire equipped vehicle for your family.
    8. The myth that cars from Ford/GM/Chrysler are “American Cars” and conversely, a particular Subaru/Honda/Nissan/Toyota/Mitsubishi/Hyundai/BMW is a foreign car. What determines the nationality of a car? Where the most value add occurred, the nationality of the parent company or where the parts came from?

  • avatar
    teoluke

    That Lane change signals are unnecessary- Only applies to BMW drivers.

  • avatar
    CopperCountry

    A recent myth, perpetrated by car manufacturers, is that fuel filters in today’s cars are “good for life” … it’s not even possible to replace them, should you want to. Ask anyone who’s had to shell out $300-400 for a new fuel pump module with its integral fuel filter. One tank of crap fuel (which is more prevalent than you might think, in certain parts of the country) and you’re towing it to the dealer.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    HankScorpio :

    You can’t be serious that people NEED an AWD car if they live where it snows. A Camry or Accord is more than enough (even without snow tires, although snow tires will make an average FWD car almost invincible) in a city. Maybe if you live in the mountains or the country somewhere an AWD vehicle would be nice, but it’s still definitely not necessary. What do you think people did before AWD vehicles were everywhere?

    If my mother (a terrible driver) can drive FWD cars in Toronto for 30+ years without indcident, they’re definitely not necessary

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    another vote for the “SUVs are safer” myth.
    also “driving with the AC on is more fuel efficient than opening the windows” (except for maybe > 100 mph; i haven’t tried it that fast)
    “AC puts a big load on your battery” common among my father’s friends.
    “you can get more power and better mileage from a car by simply increasing or decreasing the gap for the points, i forget which” (from an eastern european guy I used to know; maybe it was true on eastern european cars? which still had points?)
    “the reason your battery died early is because you have a CB radio”, from the Firestone guy trying to get out of replacing the battery on warranty, back in the CB radio days

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    I love the fuel one. People get all funny faced when presented with the fact that premium has less energy then regular :) and will lead to poorer fuel mileage on a car designed to run regular

    My fav old wives tale that just won’t go away, if you ever run synthetic, you can never go back .

    WRT the police engine… My dad had a 69 Fury III with a police 383… that mutha kicked some butt. Back in those days, they would order a set number of police engines and if they did not receive enough car orders, would just randomly dump the engines in cars coming doing the line. Doesn’t happen anymore as the cars are sequenced way in advance.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    That some speed freak got a couple of JATO booster rockets from a milsurp store and bolted them to his POS car, then wound up splattered on a mountainside.

    Although, if you read about the Turbonique rocket propulsion systems for cars, you might begin to see the possibilities…..

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2006/04/the_real_acme.html

  • avatar
    wgmleslie

    Ralph Kinney Bennett

    But, as the car’s popularity took off and production increased, paint technology was way behind the curve. The paint took too long to dry. The only color that would dry quickly was “Japan black” (o-o-oh, what mysterious portent can we read into that name?)so, from the 1913 model year on, black became the default color for the T.

    Interesting. “Japan Dryer” is used to accelerate the drying of oil based paint, enamels and varnish (wooden boats guys in northern climates use this a lot).

  • avatar
    HankScorpio

    thetopdog:

    I am tired of the attitude that because someone lives in the south, they NEED air conditioning. What did people do for all those years when we didn’t have air conditioning? Melt?

    If I am going to the expense of owning a car, it better damn well be able to get me where I want to go with 6-12 inches on the ground. Because when there is 6-12 inches down, all pubilc transit is slower than molasses if it running. If I lived in Florida, AWD would not be on my list of requirements for a vehicle, but in Chicago, it is.

    I own cars so that we are not dependent on the whims and shortcomings of another entity for our transportation. One of my cars is a normal FWD sedan, but we also have an AWD Subaru which is what we drive when it is snowing.

    So, in conclusion, it is a matter of convenience that I own an AWD vehicle, just as it is convenient to own a vehicle with AirCon in Florida and equally justifiable.

  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    That hypermiling can double your miles per gallon.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    That Ralph Nader is the reason why General Motors ceased production of the Corvair in the 1969 model year. If anything, Nader’s accusations about the Corvair’s handling caused GM to produce the car for a few more years, so as not to lend any credence to Nader’s “facts.”

    That all Corvairs explode or roll over unexpectedly. Not sure where the explosion remarks come from, unless it is non-car people who get their “facts” confused with those belonging to the Pinto. As for rolling over, the late model Corvairs (1965 to 1965) were extremely stable, having replaced the swing-arm rear suspension of the 1960 to 1964 models with an independent rear suspension similar to Corvettes of the time.

    And having owned an early model Corvair, I can state that the handling is about on par with – if not slightly better than – cars of the same era. Different, yes. But not dangerous, unless driven in an idiotic manner.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    That there is no replacement for displacement.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Myths that need to go eh? Most of us could probably go on all day.

    1. The myth that imports never break.
    2. Toyota is a visionary genius for the Prius
    3. That if an import has one factory in America ALL its cars come from the US but if Ford has one factory in Mexico ALL its cars come from Mexico.
    4. That there’s an easy fix to the domestics.
    5. Anything from Asia/Europe is more fuel efficient than anything from America.
    6. That everything from America is unreliable as Zastavas. (this one really irks me since the domestic that ever gave me real shit was a 97 Probe where all the Mazda sourced shit kept breaking)
    7. That the Mustang needs an IRS.

    Yeah Car myth fun!

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Hank Scorpio, I live in the South and don’t want AC, but then again, I am the exception to the rule, and the only features I want in a car are a heater, an iPod jack, and a CD player. Plus, what’s with convertibles with A/C? Can’t they just put the top down!?

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    Biggest Prius Myth I’ve seen is that some people believe the Toyota Prius only sells well because it “looks different”.

    1. I’m constantly confusing other cars for a Prius when on the highway or in parking lots. I actually read the badge on the tail if I can or look for the hood badge if I get the chance. At some angles the Prius really does look different. At other angles there are other cars that it looks like. In real life you don’t always see the prius at a perfect 90 degree profile.

    2. I don’t care what it looks like if they somehow made a hummer get that MPG a Prius gets at the price a Prius sells for with the warranty and reliability of a Toyota from 2005 I’d drive it. The key is it it has to have all the stats of a Prius not just some. It would still have to be able to seat 4, have significant cargo space, have decent crash ratings, decent insurance costs, etc. And yes that means it has to be a midsized car. None of that comparing it to a compact car that can’t haul the same amount of people and stuff.

    Oh yeah guess that is Prius myth #2. Some people still think if a “European diesel car” were to magically go on sale in the US it’d beat the snot out of the Prius. But again they always do the apples vs oranges comparison. Forgetting to translate from European gallons to North American gallons when comparing MPG, ignoring the cargo capacity, comparing it to a compact car instead of a midsized, etc.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    Some of the ones that bother me:

    - Mexican and/or Brazilian VWs are built to a lower standard; and its axiom: a Wolfsburg VW is vastly superior

    - American built Japanese cars are inherently worse than the same one built in Japan

    - Mercedes and BMW have problems since they started building in America

    - European cars qre quirky

    - Japanese cars never break

    - The Chinese are coming now!

    - (tongue in cheek) It’s possible to fix GM and Chrysler

    Lots of unfounded thinking ou there..

  • avatar
    brndn81

    I am tired of the attitude that because someone lives in the south, they NEED air conditioning.
    I used to think the same way when I lived in Seattle and Boise. Now that I live in Houston… it’s true. Nobody likes showing up for a meeting covered in sweat.
    100 degrees in Boise is nothing compared to 100 degrees in Houston. Humidity sucks.

  • avatar
    analyst

    @gzuckier :

    > also “driving with the AC on is more fuel efficient than opening the windows” (except for maybe > 100 mph; i haven’t tried it that fast)

    This depends on many factors, including the shape of the car, AC efficiency, outside temperature… For a sleek, aerodynamic sedan, opening the windows increases drag severely. There are no accurate numbers on the “AC vs Windows down” threshold, but engineers put it anywhere from 45 to 75 mph.

    And I live in the South, where outside temperature is usually 100 degrees in the summer. Rolling down the windows is useless. So usually I’ll turn on the AC when it’s too hot outside, regardless of my speed.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The reason your Northstar or Wankel engine is having problems is because you don’t drive your car correctly. The engine itself is perfect.

  • avatar
    analyst

    FromBrazil :

    > Mexican and/or Brazilian VWs are built to a lower standard; and its axiom: a Wolfsburg VW is vastly superior

    VW cars built for Brazilian and Mexican markets are usually outdated models.

    > European cars qre quirky

    Some of them are.

    > The Chinese are coming now!

    They will come, eventually.

    > (tongue in cheek) It’s possible to fix GM and Chrysler

    Yes it is, after Chapter 11 and re-structuring.

  • avatar

    The driver’s side windshield wiper never works as well as the passenger side wiper.

    This is true in my experience.

  • avatar

    7. I disagree with the anti-4wd people. I think if you live up north where there is significant snow, you need to have access to at least one 4WD/AWD or snow tire equipped vehicle for your family.

    I do fine with snows and FWD in the Boston area. My best friend and his wife do fine with snows and FWD in Albany NY which is worse. My parents did fine when I was a kid (in the ’50s and ’60s) with RWD and snow tires on the back in winter. I can remember trips we took through blizzards in the ’57 Chevy wagon. I can also remember trips through blizzards in the ’65 Peugeot wagon, and they didn’t even bother to put snows on that because it had radials.

  • avatar
    brndn81

    The myth that a ginormous muffler & exhaust tip on your stock civic provides an extra 20 horsepower.
    Never understood the appeal of a car that sounds like a rolling whoopie cushion.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    @Analyst

    VW cars built for Brazilian and Mexican markets are usually outdated models

    You are absolutely right, but I should’ve been clearer in conveying what I meant. I meant, “Mexican and Brazilian-built VWs exported to US in relation to the ones imported from Germany are inferior”.

    > European cars qre quirky

    Some of them are.

    Again, what I meant was ALL are quirky. Not all are to be sure, but of course, some are!

    And the GM and Chrysler thing, I meant to be funny. I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel, specially if like you said, it’s at the end of a Ch. 11 tunnel.

    Cheers!

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    I just remembered another one. True story. I was in Heliopolis, Cairo Egypt for a few months back in the early eighties. I put plenty of ass time in various cabs cruising around looking for stuff to do. At night I noticed that not only my cab drivers but a whole bunch of people were driving around with either their lights off or just their parking lights on. I saw so much weird shit over there that I didn’t give this light thing much thought until a buddy I was with asked our driver “what’s up with the no lights?” Well, don’t you know that if you drive around at night with your lights on you’ll destroy your alternator? As it turns out, a whole country seems to believe that one.

  • avatar
    obbop

    The reason the “old style” Chevy Nova did not sell well in Latin America was due to the translation of “No Va” into Spanish is “no go.”

  • avatar
    segfault

    Myth #1. That turn signals are unnecessary for lane changes, turns, or both.
    related:
    2. That courtesy is something other people give you, never the other way around.
    3. My car will safely go 90 MPH on a clear, sunny day, therefore, it will also safely go 90 MPH in a torrential downpour.

  • avatar
    arapaima

    Horsepower = fun, no exceptions.

  • avatar
    nino

    I doubt anyone ever said all the old cars got 50 mpg in the city. That’s beyond ridiculous.

    They sure do!

    What makes it even more ridiculous is that the car in question is always some big, V8 powered Buick or Oldsmobile (the car gets such good mileage because the big V8 motor isn’t straining or working hard to pull the car around like those little 4 cylinder motors do).

    In addition to this is those that believe you have to have a big V8 engine and nothing else in your car to have enough “pick-up”. My dad used to believe this as does my father in law now as well as a few very well educated clients of mine. My dad stopped believing it when I smoked his old 1985 Eldorado with a V8 with my straight 6 powered Supra.

    And who can forget “road hugging weight”, the belief that a heavy car handles better.

    I almost forgot that all small cars are “shitboxes” and that some cars (mostly European) have a special “kink in the frame” to make them handle better

  • avatar
    nino

    Oh, and how about old MOPAR guys saying how the old Chrysler 300s could cruise at 160MPH all day and that you still had more “pedal” for passing.

  • avatar
    TaxedAndConfused

    Speed cameras save lives. – well they do if you are selective with the stats. I can drive like a total NSFW and stay within the speed limit and a camera won’t “see” me.

    Modern cars are fine with live axles. – if it was good enough for a horse and carriage it must be good enough for a 300hp car, no ? No.

    I’m required to stay in the outside lane because I drive a BMW / Merc / SUV and I’m “speshal”.

    You can wash your car with washing up liquid. – you can if you like to coat your car in salt.

    Fog lights are needed when it gets a little damp.

    No replacement for displacement. – meet my best friend Mr turbo…

    SAT NAV knows where you are going. – recreate the fun of Sat Nav by asking your wife/girlfriend/mother to give you directions about 2 seconds too late and then scold you like a naughty puppy for not taking them. Also make sure they don’t say anything for the first 10 minutes whilst they work out where they are.

    American cars used to be the world standard. – er, most of them were never sold outside North America so we will never know.

    European cars are always better. – nope, we have some real stinkers too. Peugeot 308 anyone ?

    23MPG is good economy. – its all relative I suppose.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    That all Prius batteries go bad and have to be replaced at owner cost of an entire new battery.

    That all Prius batteries end up in the landfill.

    Both of these are untrue.

  • avatar
    Michal

    “They don’t build them like they used to” while looking at a good condition 30 year old car driving down the road. This of course ignores the fact that 99% of its cousins have long since been scrapped or fallen apart.

    “The oil companies are deliberately sabotaging fuel and buying up patents to keep cars very inefficient”.

    This one is golden, and ignores the simple fact that if a car company did find a way to magically boost efficiency by double digit figures, they would leap on it and beat their competitors in the marketplace.

    “ABS increases your stopping distance”.

    This one never seems to die, and flies in the face of motoring magazine tests over years that showed it’s simply not true in dry or wet conditions. ABS *can* increase stopping distance on ice or gravel, but the number of people who claim ABS is rubbish while living in a country where it never snows is mind boggling.

    “Higher octane fuel will instantly give your car more power and better fuel economy”.

    High performance cars usually require higher octane fuel, so people have linked the two and think a ‘better’ fuel will instantly make their 4 cylinder NA car faster. While it is true that some very specific brands of high octane fuel are blended for a higher calorific content, normal bog standard premium unleaded does nothing for a car that’s not designed for higher compression ratios.

  • avatar
    A is A

    The myth that old big cars are safer

    That “myth” is -in some circumstances- a truth.

    I suggest you to examine this fascinating evidence:

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/vehicles/carsmmrisk/

    To explain why a big jalopy can be (sometimes) safer than a small modern subcompact please read this text:

    The most significant safety determinant, worth as much as all the others put together, is weight. It is so important that it would overwhelm all other factors…we strongly recommend that you note BOTH of the last 2 rating categories Weight and Overall, when you consider the ultimate crashworthiness of a particular model.

    Taken from http://www.safecarguide.com/exp/intro/idx.htm

    It´s simple physics. The Delta V of a heavy car colliding with a light car head on is going to be much, much smaller for the heavy car, and the kinetic energy to be dissipated by the body of the car increases with the square of Delta V.

    If you want top notch safety, go modern AND big AND stable (avoid SUVs and buy an ESC fitted car).

    Oh, and go fuel efficient. It is possible to combine the four cited requisites in the same car, and it is technically elegant and satisfactory to get a good mpg from a big and safe car. The keys to get this “magic” are an efficient four cylinders engine and the conscious intent to drive very smoothly. A Diesel engine also helps.

    Hoonage may have its satisfactions, I suppose. To drive safely and economically gives you a different (IMO much better) kind of satisfactions.

  • avatar
    hokuto

    Actually, running “airplane fuel” or avgas in a turbo car CAN significantly increase it’s performance.

    AVGAS is more resisitant to detonation thus allowing higher boost pressures.

    Also, some modified non-turbo engines will only run correctly on AVGAS, race-fuel, or conventional petrol with an octane booster added.

    So in a sense, the “airplane fuel” myth is actually true.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    1) I know where you can get a fantastic deal on a like-new ‘Vette. The only hitch is that the owner commited suicide in the car and bled all over the drivers seat. No matter how hard you scrub…….

  • avatar
    agenthex

    I guess it’s fun to make fun of car-ignorant people but there are also a lot of myths in the enthusiast community.

    For example, diesel engines are more “efficient” or just better in any way for enthusiastic drivers. Most of the extra mpg from diesels is from higher mass density. They also pollute more in the form of hazardous particulate matter, their powerband is misplaced for proper hoonage, their weight detrimental to handling.

    In short, there’s a lot of support for diesels that is most entirely unjustified.

    Also, another one is that power output difference in modern cars are significant (especially for high powered saloons and such). Pretty much any review points out how much more power a model has over the last one or lower trim or the competition, when less than 15-20 lb/hp (eg >~200hp for 3500lb car) can push most anything to very high and pretty dangerous speeds.

    To be fair, both myths concern areas (diesels and high speeds) that the US enthusiast is unfamiliar with.

    My favorite myth: that the Nissan GT-R that rang the ‘Ring in 7:29 was a standard production car, just the same as Bobby the Noogler can buy in California.

    I’ve only seen evidence in one direction, and it does not bode well for the credibility of the naysayers.

  • avatar
    A is A

    For example, diesel engines are more “efficient” or just better in any way for enthusiastic drivers. Most of the extra mpg from diesels is from higher mass density. They also pollute more in the form of hazardous particulate matter, their powerband is misplaced for proper hoonage

    In my book Hoonage does NOT equal to “enthusiastic driving”.

    I consider myself an enthusiastic driver, one who gets every ounce of pleasure from every kilometer I drive. I get my driving pleasure from the safety, efficiency and smoothnes of my driving, not from leaving tyre marks on the tarmac.

    Uh, and I drive a Diesel. But that´s incidental.

    Regarding the hazardous particulate matter from diesels: You are entirely right. At the emission inspections ttest here -in Europe- they apply a totally differente set of tests to Diesels. There was no way of a Diesel pasing a standard Petrol emissions test.

    There WAS. Most recent Diesels are much, much cleaner.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    I get my driving pleasure from the safety, efficiency and smoothnes of my driving, not from leaving tyre marks on the tarmac.

    So, how is the diesel “better” other than taking advantage of slightly cheaper fuel?

    Most recent Diesels are much, much cleaner.

    Sure, cleaner than before, but trapping the smallest particles which are the most hazardous to health is difficult.

  • avatar
    don1967

    1. My car runs better after an oil change. (Perhaps… if it was filled with sand before)

    2. We should all drive hybrid cars to save the planet from Global Warming. (Or was it the Y2K Millennium Bug? I can never get my mass hysterias straight)

    3. That will buff right out.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I’ve already posted…twice…but I’ve thought of a few more:

    “It’s a great performance enhancement; it’s proven to add 3 to 7 horsepower!” Might be a performance enhancement, but not a “great” one. In fact, that’s so slight on a 100+ hp vehicle that you won’t notice, and it’s well within the variance that’s seen between two similar vehicles. You’ll probably get that much of an improvement by changing your filters!

    “Convertibles are dangerous…what if you roll over in one?” Cars rarely roll over, and if anything a convertible’s lower center of gravity actually helps to prevent rollovers. Most data collected on this shows no significant difference in deaths due to rollovers between convertibles and their coupe counterparts. And while on the subject of convertibles, a favorite line of salespeople…

    “It was engineered as a convertible from the ground up, at the same time they were developing the coupe.” With a few exceptions, unless the vehicle was offered only as a convertible, or was offered first as a convertible, most convertibles that were also available as a coupe were in fact coupes that were modified into convertibles at the factory, or at a factory-approved subcontractor such as Karmann or ASC.

    @Rev Junkie: Plus, what’s with convertibles with A/C? Can’t they just put the top down!?
    Rev Junkie, you’ve obviously never lived in New Orleans during a rainy summer. And had to wear a suit and tie to work every day. LOL

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    You can wash your car with washing up liquid. – you can if you like to coat your car in salt.…

    Not trying to be snotty, but what is “washing up liquid” that leaves salt behind?

    There’s no replacement for displacement…well, as always there is often some truth to everything. Large displacement really only has two negatives: fuel consumption and perhaps engine size/weight. Some may be limited in upper end breathing, though I have modified engines in mind. All the tricks of the trade to boost power levels in small engines carry plenty of their own baggage – complexity, manufacturing costs, reliability, long term durability, maintenance costs…

  • avatar
    A is A

    So, how is the diesel “better” other than taking advantage of slightly cheaper fuel?

    More than a 25% of improvement in mileage.

    Please take a look at the Petrol Vs. Diesels data for my Toyota.

    http://www.parkers.co.uk/cars/specs/Summary.aspx?model=882&page=3

    OTOH I have no experience driving the petrol version of my car. I bought used. My car being a diesel is a mere accident. The car having a Hatch of having ESC fitted was a must for me. The version of the engine was not. Maybe the driving of a Petrol engined Avensis is much more pleasant than my Diesel. Maybe. But I think it is not: To drive the diesel is a very pleasant experience, at least for me.

    Sure, cleaner than before, but trapping the smallest particles which are the most hazardous to health is difficult.

    You are totally right. It is very difficult, and expensive. And we´ll see what happens with those complex particle traps as the car gets older.

  • avatar

    Break in oil is not a myth. It’s not the oil that is the problem – it’s the minute amounts of swarf left in the crankcase from manufacturing processes, as well as the normal wear you’d get from a brand new engine that is bedding in the various moving parts.

    You want a horrific example? The oil-in-frame Triumphs of the 70s had a nasty habit of seizing up solid within a few hundred miles of leaving the dealer. Soon the dealers realized that the oil tanks (the spine of the frame) was chock full of metal swarf, which would jam the oil pump and starve the motor. How did Triumph respond? By doing NOTHING. They told the dealers to clean the oil tanks during PDI. Little wonder they had a reputation for arrogance and shoddy workmanship.

    That’s not a myth, that’s a fact. I worked as a Triumph mechanic. The MYTH associated with the seizing problem is that the union workers would dump screws into the crankcase. Not true as far as I know – they didn’t need to sabotage the bikes, they blew up on their own just fine.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    More than a 25% of improvement in mileage.

    Those are different engines with different performance. I’ve seen similar ~25% efficiency figures for both types, and that diesel may hold a 10% thermodynamic advantage, but I can’t really evaluate accurately either way.

    Actually I’d love to hear someone discuss and compare the heat cycles of the two engines types for theoretical and practical case.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Never buy a car made on Monday or Friday!How could you tell what day your car was made?It used to take 37hrs to build a car.What if your car was started on Monday and finished Wednesday?I guess the body would fall apart and the power train would last forever.Hold it!The doors were stamped on a Tuesday.Yeah but the engine was assembled on a Friday night.Thats okay cause the block was cast
    on Tuesday morning.Wait a minute Monday was a holiday long weekend.So lets get a car made on Monday night.Oh no! The Packers played the Vikings
    on MNF that night.

    You see where I’m going here,its a myth.Absentism never really impacted car build quality.Even back in the seventys and eightys,a good foreman had a group of top notch relief utility people.The more jobs you knew well the better you were treated.If a U.R man did a good job on a crappy assembly job,on a slack day you scored a job driving in reject,or pushing a broom.

    The real world on the shop floor differs greatly from mythology.

  • avatar
    derm81

    Domestic Part Content myth:

    A LOT of people are under the impression that a Honda Odyssey has something like 75% domestic part conent rating.

    What they don’t tell you is a that most of those parts were designed, fabricated and engineered in Asia….not Ohio, Alabama, or California. Assembly and production is just one area of the total vehicle process.

    Look at the PT Cruiser….assembled in Mexico…but most of the parts were designed and engineered in SE Michigan.

    The argument needs to go both ways.

  • avatar
    A is A

    Those are different engines with different performance

    The mpg advantage for diesels is a constant across every car model available with Petrol and Diesel. You can check this fact reviewing the mpgs at http://www.parkers.co.uk

    30 years ago most Diesel cars in Europe were slow, underpowered, expensive, noisy and uncomfortable. The ONLY reason people had to buy them was the better mileage.

    We had to wait until the 1980s to get Diesels “almost as good” as Petrols, as the Mercedes or the Peugeot 205.

    …that diesel may hold a 10% thermodynamic advantage, but I can’t really evaluate accurately either way. Actually I’d love to hear someone discuss and compare the heat cycles of the two engines types for theoretical and practical case

    Sorry but I am not qualified to discuss those interesting matters.

    Uh, and this is another “myth” (IMO it is fact, sourceable with several books about cars): A Diesel engined car is less likely to catch fire in case of crash, due to the less hazardous nature of the oil versus Gasoline.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    Regarding diesels: the fact that diesels use compression to ignite the fuel, and that they lack a throttle, makes them more efficent than gasoline engines even factoring in differences in energy density.

    Regarding spoilers: a well-designed spoiler does actually decrease drag, by creating a cushion of turbulent airflow to improve aerodynamics. It’s the same idea as a pickup having less drag with the tailgate up because a cushion of air is created in the bed. (Thanks, Mythbusters.)

    I’m not sure how many spoilers are actually effective; the Prius has an effective one.

  • avatar
    jackc10

    My current TTAC favorites:

    1. I would buy it if it came with a diesel and stick.

    2. People in the South do not really need AC. (I will point out here that is like saying people in Chicago do not really need heat.)

    3. It is not Detroit’s fault.

    4. Toyota/Honda/Nissan products are all crap, parts are expensive, difficult to repair and are boring to drive.

    5. Experience and anecodotal stories about regular head gasket/alternator/power steering pump/transmission/rust/wind noise/ignition system/starter/bearing prematurely failing are no reason not to run out and buy a new GM, Ford or Chrysler product today.

    6. A reason not to buy a Tundra is because the dealer will not come off the sticker price much. Therefore I can get a better deal at a Big 2.5 truck dealer.

    7. No one but ranchers, farmers and plumbers need a pick up truck.

    8.When a southern city has an ice storm, it is not the recent arrivals from up north over in the ditch.

    9.Southerners cannot build highly technical machinery or heavy metal objects. (This does not explain the airplanes made here or the existence of Birmingham, Chattanooga, etc.)

    10. Only liberal college professors drove SAAB’s before GM bought it. After all when I was in Boulder, SAABs were really common.

  • avatar

    Here’s a myth with some truth to it, just not in the way you think:

    The classic “guy died in the car and now it’s cheap as dirt” myth? Well, in Nova Scotia, Canada, if someone is killed in a vehicle (I’d have to check if it only applies to the registered owner) the vehicle is blacklisted and cannot be registered again. Thus, we can get some nice parts off blacklisted vehicles with minimal damage in salvage yards, simply because someone was killed while using that vehicle. An example would be a motorcycle that skids off with minimal cosmetic damage, but the poor rider got pitched into a tree or oncoming traffic and was killed while the bike sustained very little damage. It’s morbid, but that’s the way the law works in the NS.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The 100 mpg car, breakthrough wildly successful EVs, etc., and the alleged conspiracy to destroy them all, is one of my favorites.

    A cousin to that, the belief that E10 reduces fuel economy by 30% or more, even though that makes no scientific sense whatsoever, is another.

    The idea that GM products are as reliable as Toyotas and Hondas, even though they clearly aren’t according to every legitimate data source that one can find, is yet another.

    The belief that the Prius isn’t profitable, even though it has sold over a million units and produced a drivetrain that has made it into several other vehicles, is still another. A few posters on this site keep repeating this myth, despite all of the data that indicates otherwise. ($1 billion in R&D, divided by 1 million units sold, is only $1,000/ car.)

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    To everyone who thinks that premium gas does not give better mileage:
    at least in Ontario regular gas contains 10% of ethanol where premium has 0% (at least for now). So, premium does give better mileage.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    john.fritz mentioned a good one that happens in 3rd world countries. The driving at night with headlights off makes me nuts. They do this in South America. The reason? They claim it increases the life the headlights and improves fuel efficiency. I had not heard of the wear-n-tear on the alternator explanation that Fritz heard in Egypt.

    Glad to see were their priorities lay. Sure, I’ll place your life at great risk in order to save 2 cents a year.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Humanity’s actions have negligible effect on global climate patterns.

    Fight.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    1. More about ABS and stopping distances (Michal brought it up):

    Where I come from, all students in driving school must perform braking tests in a car with selectable ABS. With the proper technique (pumping the break pedal to prevent skidding) you can stop a car quicker WITHOUT ABS. However, ABS has other advantages which clearly outweigh that particular disadvantage (also, most people are likely to panic in a real emergency and simply hit the break pedal as hard as they can).

    2. About so called “all-season tires”:

    Most people are aware that all-season tires are not as good as proper winter tires in snowy/icy conditions, but few are aware they are substantially worse than summer tires in rainy conditions. A Swedish car magazine has been calling out for a ban on these kind of tires for years now.

    3. About the importance of 4WD/AWD:

    Many people (including my father) don’t realize that a car’s tires are more important in snowy/icy conditions than the presence of AWD. A FWD car with proper winter tires is much safer than an AWD car equipped with all-season tires.

    (bonus anecdotal evidence: my father has been involved in a number of small accidents during winter, while my mother has never even been close (FWD, proper winter tires) until she borrowed my father’s car (AWD, all-season tires) and ditched within minutes from the house)

  • avatar
    BDB

    The myth that a higher seating position (CUV, SUV) is safer than being seated low in a station wagon.

    I swear 90% of people aren’t smart enough to figure out that even if you can see more in an SUV/CUV, your handling, braking, etc. goes to pot vs. a station wagon, making you less safe most of the time.

    Another myth I hate–the Miata is a “girly/gay” car. Anyone who says this has never driven one.

    What did people do for all those years when we didn’t have air conditioning? Melt?

    If you could afford it, you went to the mountains for the summer. If you were poor, you suffered. Also not many people lived here before A/C. Without A/C, the modern South would not exist. Nobody in their right mind would move here without it.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    @PaulW: …also, most people are likely to panic in a real emergency and simply hit the break pedal as hard as they can…

    Especially people like me, who have driven ABS-equipped vehicles for the better part of the past 20 years.

    During the rare times I’ve had to make a panic stop, I’m so used to hitting the brake pedal and holding it that it would be hard to re-train myself to pump the brakes at the point that the wheels locked.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Headlights on in broad daylight make you safer.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    1) AWD makes you brake better in wet/snow conditions

    2) If you have AWD, you don’t need snow tires

    Really, there are people wo believe that.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The myth that rear wings don’t help on a FWD car.

    Wings aren’t for drag racing, they’re for taking turns at high speeds. And FWD cars have to worry about their rear wheels gripping the road just as much (or more, because of the lack of weight back there) as any other car.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    I’d like to lay to rest the fuel issue.

    People seem to think that higher octane fuel or aviation fuel will make your car faster. This simply isn’t true. Selecting fuel for your car is about what your engine NEEDS. Higher performance engines, such as engines using high compression ratios, advanced spark timing, or forced induction, NEED to run on higher octane fuel because the increased heat and pressure in these engines may cause detonation, or fuel igniting when it’s not supposed to. This condition is commonly known as “knock” and can be really stressful for your engine. Higher octane fuel is more resistant to detonation.

    If you have a car that takes regular fuel, high octane fuel or octane boosters will do nothing. However, if your car requires premium fuel, don’t be a cheapskate and fill it with regular because it could cause premature wear on your engine, not to mention rob you of high RPM power delivery.

    There. I hope that settles things. I don’t know everything, so feel free to add to my explaination.

    I would also like to lay to rest the 4WD issue.

    4WD does not help you stop shorter. I wish advertisers would stop misleading people about this. Having 4WD also doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful driving in snow. I’ve seen way too many 4WD SUVs turned over in ditches because they assumed they could still go 60mph in the snow.

    What 4WD actually does is make it easy for your car to go up snowy hills and through chunky snow without getting stuck. My wife and I have two cars. A Mazda3 and an Impreza. We live in Seattle, where there are hills everywhere, so when it snows here, all hell breaks loose. The Mazda does okay, but there are some hills I wouldn’t try it with. The Impreza, however, let us get just about anywhere we wanted with ease.

    It’s true that we don’t NEED 4WD, but it sure is convenient!

  • avatar
    willbodine

    That “tinted glass” was worth extra money, back when it was optional. It cost no more to make than white glass.
    Similarly, even today, the Germans still get away with charging for metallic paint (anywhere from $250 to $700 or so). Again, it costs the manufacturer only a few more pennies per gallon to produce than non-metallic .
    And one that I wish I had thought of is the recent up-sell at the local tire store: pure nitrogen for an additional $10 per tire (air is 78% nitrogen to begin with.)
    As if they are really using nitrogen! And as if there was anyway for the consumer to know anyway.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    What they don’t tell you is a that most of those parts were designed, fabricated and engineered in Asia….not Ohio, Alabama, or California. Assembly and production is just one area of the total vehicle process.

    I’m sorry, but it is actually more true than you think. Toyota and Honda (and now Hyundai and Nissan) both have significant design centres in North America, and NAFTA is very strict about parts origin as part of content labeling. And then there’s JIT requirements, which more or less make it impossible to source significant components from overseas.

    A Toyota Camry is actually a very American vehicle (design in California, parts from mostly local suppliers), certainly moreso than the Canadian-built Impala (that gets most of it’s parts from southern Ontario).

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    willbodine,

    regarding metallic paint. It’s an option and manufacturer makes a profit on it. Same as it does not cost more to manufacture engine and engine components for example for 3-Series E36 320i vs. E36 325i. But 325i is more expensive to purchase then 320i, even if they have very same equipment and options. Even on 1-Series in Europe 116i and 118i have exactly the same engine. What different is state of tune (read software), so former makes less horsepower and torque then later.

  • avatar
    windswords

    The Chrysler 300 is based off the old generation Mercedes E-class.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Cold weather car myths:
    You have to let your car warm up forever before driving it in below freezing temps, or it will harm the engine.

    My rwd will be fine in the snow because some guy on a web forum told me so.- Hahaha, better buy snow tires or a 4wd beater.

    Diesels (even modern ones) don’t start well in cold weather. – Turn the key on for 30 seconds to warm the glow plugs, or get an engine block heater.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Windswords,

    here’s a quote from Wiki: “The Chrysler 300 is based on the rear-wheel drive Chrysler LX platform which features components derived from the discontinued W210 Mercedes-Benz E-Class of 1996 to 2002. Such components include the suspension design, front seat frames, wiring harnesses, steering column, the 5-speed automatic’s design, and a derivative of the 4Matic all-wheel drive system.”
    You’re saying it yourself “including a low-end version of the Mercedes E-class automatic transmission (the A580 electronic automatic), and versions of Mercedes’ stability control, steering, front suspensions, electronics, rear suspensions, and seats.”

  • avatar
    windswords

    psarhjinian:

    “Humanity’s actions have negligible effect on global climate patterns.”

    Mine:
    The sun’s actions have negligible effect on global climate patterns. In other words, It’s just us and only us humans baby.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Bimmer:

    Wiki is wrong. You do know the content is not written by “experts” but whoever, right? Check the interview with Tom Gale in Motor Trend (google it). Do a seach on Allpar.com. It’s not hard. The 300 was delayed up to 18 months to retrofit some converted suspension parts (which won’t install back into a W210). Nothing will cross fit between the two except for the steering column, and an old Mercedes transmission, big whoop.

    Quote form Allpar:
    “Though Chrysler had already chosen rear wheel drive before the merger, hooking up with Mercedes allowed (some say forced) the use of existing technologies, including a low-end version of the Mercedes E-class automatic transmission (the A580 electronic automatic), and versions of Mercedes’ stability control, steering, front suspensions, electronics, rear suspensions, and seats. It is hard to tell how much – if any – this has saved (or cost) in development, since DaimlerChrysler worked hard to justify the takeover of Chrysler Corporation in the face of stockholder lawsuits, and Chrysler reportedly was paying steep royalties for their use of these components (some of which were provided by outside suppliers in any case).

    AutoWeek (Mark Vaughn) quoted chief engineer Burke Brown as saying that while Mercedes provided many components, “few parts are straight out the Benz bin.” He cited the front suspension as having a lower roll center and wider track, for example. Another Chrysler engineer actually suggested that the LX had simply continued the LH front suspension, with minor changes.”

  • avatar

    Not letting your car heat up properly IS a bad idea. Ask anyone who had an Audi 5 cylinder coupe (as in cracking exhaust manifolds). Or any auto engineer, who will point out that heat cycling and condensation in cold weather startup creates acids that leech into your oil. Then there are those of us who own old Italian machines, which have a reputation for poor oil circulation on startup.

    Myths need to be myths and legend, not something you happen to disagree with or not believe.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    The British know how to do a reliable electrical system.

    That Lucas, prince of darkness thing. myth. myth.myth.

    of course they could build one, just not in a car.

    then ( may have been mentioned already) but the Vortex air intake system gets mentions

    and in women and cars section;” Doesn’t it switch off the turbo?” (the overdrive lockout switch on the auto shifter)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Here’s two that bug me:

    One: That a Geo Metro, Civic CVCC or other 1992-or-earlier compact is somehow a worthwhile competitor to a modern vehicle because it got good mileage.

    It isn’t. It got good mileage because it was an underpowered tin can that would kill you if it tapped a bicycle at 30km/h. You cannot compare it to a Prius, so please don’t try.

    Two: That the virtues of a Crown Vic (that only apply to fleet buyers) somehow redeems all the horrible characteristics that make normal people buy Camrys, Accords and Malibus instead.

    No one cares that you can hop curbs or perform PIT manuevers or repair the frame with two trees, some rope and a big hammer. The car, otherwise, sucks. Saying it’s somehow something that everyone should consider is like suggesting someone intending to buy a RAV/4 or CR-V should consider the Lada Niva.

  • avatar
    benders

    Re diesel vs. gasoline:

    The fact the diesel meters fuel to the load and doesn’t throttle makes them more efficient. But direct injection now does the same for gasoline.

    The primary difference in the cycles is diesel is considered to be a constant pressure heat addition and gasoline is constant volume. This gives them a different p-v curve.

    Another difference is knock resistance: diesel essentially has none, you want it to ignite when you inject it but gasoline you want as much detonation delay as possible so you can compress it as much as possible which makes your engine more efficient, another plus for diesel and DI.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    My favorites:

    1. “People would be better off buying the car they need 80-99.5% of the time, and not buying a light truck.” Note, this logic is never applied to sports cars or high mileage cars. I suppose no one ever NEEDS a high performance car, they just want one, but that gets a pass, even if it means more dead victims and wasted fuel. Also, there are simply many, many more people who made bad buys on high mileage cars because they didn’t do the math and figure out it was costing them more to trade than it would have to suffer the cost of the lower mileage vehicle. The real truth is that if you need a light truck only 3 or 4 times a year, you come out ahead just owning one rather than renting one for those occasions unless you drive well over average miles per year.

    2. “SUV’s are a waste because they always have one or two people in them”. Even if only mom’s with 8 kids ever bought a suburban, the mom’s would be alone in the car most of the day. See above for more info.

    3. “People driving low mileage vehicles are wasting OUR oil.” The amount of fuel wasted by each user happens to be up to them, but let’s be realistic. That teenager in the honda civic uses more gas than most middle aged SUV owners. And almost everywhere he goes is a luxury trip, if he actually is going anywhere. Suburb to downtown commuters are the real culprits here as well.

    4. “We can save oil by improving the mileage of the cars” or “CAFE worked”. No, people just drive more. The only thing that will work is a fuel tax.

    5. “A fuel tax is unfair to poor people” First, there is an easy way around it, but let’s be realistic, the actual mileage people NEED to drive is about one third of what they actually do. Tripling the fuel tax wouldn’t triple the price of fuel. Poor people, and everyone else, would likely drive less. The fact is that if you want less driving, you aren’t going to get to choose who does less until you takeover the country and use fear and oppression. Well, we are off to a good start there.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    1) Today’s diesels are so much better than the diesels from last decade. (somebody who’s never driven behind a recent Ram, F150, or Silverado).

    2) Carnauba wax lasts a long time. (synthetics last way longer, though I still think carnauba beats them for depth).

    3) Paste wax lasts longer than liquids/liquids are easier to apply than paste (it depends; I’ve seen the reverse depending on the brand).

    4) HID headlamps are better than halogen (depends on how they design the cutoff of the beam pattern, some halogens like on a Windstar are spectacular).

    5) Winter performance tires are squirmy (compared to what, a racing slick?)

    There’s a lot more I can think of, but that’s enough for now.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “People would be better off buying the car they need 80-99.5% of the time, and not buying a light truck.” Note, this logic is never applied to sports cars or high mileage cars.

    True, but sports cars are discretionary, uncommon purchases, and high-mileage cars are bought by people who are stuck with a tight budget.

    The problem with buying a light truck in lieu of a car isn’t just the act itself, but the scale. When tens (hundreds) of thousands of people were buying trucks instead of cars, and when manufacturers were encouraging and specifically marketing overbuying because it makes a few more points per unit, we have a problem.

    I’d agree that it’s a myth were people buying sports cars en masse, but they aren’t.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    It’s a myth. The fact it’s never applied to sports cars is simply telling of the motivation behind those spreading it.

    It will be a myth as long as fuel is cheap, and insurance, the income tax, and other factors mlae renting expensive.

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    @analyst

    I still maintain my position re AC vs windows. my current Bad Ride is a 92 civic; reasonably aerodynamic (for a production car; if we’re talking Olds Aerotech, all bets are off), wimpy AC. If any car is going to favor AC over window opening, this would be the baby. Well, anybody can feel the difference when switching the AC on, as the engine picks up the extra load; whereas hitting the window switches is imperceptible at any speed up to 100 mph. Anything less aerodynamic or with a bigger AC would have to be even more so.

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    anyway, some other responses:

    aforementioned 92 civic has limited slip now (aftermarket item); with snow tires, i quite literally drive circles around the SUVs stuck in the parking lot on a snowy day, either because they have street tires or because the driver doesn’t know now to travel in snow. of course, the achilles heel is ground clearance, though; when there’s six inches of snow, me and the SUVs with the street tires are both sitting there while the guys with the SUVs and serious tires are navigating.

    biggest source of efficiency gains in diesel engines is, as has been pointed out, pumping losses in gas engines at part throttle, particularly idle. thus also the need for giant exhaust pipes on diesels, so as not to throw away the gain from unrestricted breathing, and the need for exhaust braking on trucks to make up for the lack of engine “compression braking”, which is really engine drag from pumping losses against a closed throttle, gas engines only. do direct injection gas engines not have throttles? i always assumed they did. also as pointed out, when you get up into forced induction, the octane rating of the gasoline vs detonation presents a hard limit to raising power output/efficiency with higher manifold pressure, while with diesels it’s just limited by breaking engine parts.

    as for antilock brakes, i assume there are differences between the competencies of the various implementations; with the aforementioned 92 civic testbed i can definitely stop quicker than the ALB does, because on the slippery hill near my house in winter, the ALB would routinely not stop at all, so that i had to put it into first, which did indeed drop the speed to a crawl. on the other hand, after exhaustive testing in slippery parking lots, i found that the ALB didn’t allow me any steering control at all, it just plowed straight ahead with the wheel cranked over and the brakes pulsing. a bad mechanic managed to kill the ALB and i wasn’t about to hook it back up. so, i assume some cars have a system which functions better…..

  • avatar
    gzuckier

    oh yeah, and re the JATO equipped car; mythbusters did an episode on that; car (rigged with remote control) ran fine, stayed firmly grounded.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Muscle cars of the 60s were staggeringly fast…much faster than anything you can buy today. Part II of that myth – their output was often lowballed by the manufacturers (some were but most were not. On a recent tv show they restored a Challenger Hemi. The engine was rebuilt to factory specs and produced 425 hp, exactly what the factory said it did; not the 500 plus that is often bandied about.)

    Another land yacht myth…they are all so huge inside. Not long ago I sat in a 72 Plymouth Fury Gran Coupe (a delightful piece of 70s kitsch). Shoulder room was okay, but I had barely enough leg room and my head brushed the ceiling. There’s more room in a Sonata.

  • avatar
    agenthex


    It’s a myth. The fact it’s never applied to sports cars is simply telling of the motivation behind those spreading it.

    The problems are an order of magnitude apart, especially when sports cars are often secondary transport. Is that hard to understand or simply matter of motivation?

    It will be a myth as long as fuel is cheap, and insurance, the income tax, and other factors mlae renting expensive.

    A u-haul doesn’t cost much to rent. Or you can just borrow a utility vehicle from people who are bad at figuring things out and use a big truck to compensate.

  • avatar
    windswords

    NickR:

    “On a recent tv show they restored a Challenger Hemi. The engine was rebuilt to factory specs and produced 425 hp, exactly what the factory said it did; not the 500 plus that is often bandied about.)”

    The way I heard it the Hemi’s output was more like 470 hp – as measured at the flywheel – with headers. This is how they tested them then. Today it’s rear wheel hp which means drivetrain loss, so the restored Hemi you mentioned is doing just fine. I also read an engineer said there never was a Hemi that did not get 500 hp without the headers (again measured at the flywheel).

  • avatar
    ern35

    Going back to the ’50′s and ’60′s the occasional myth surfaced re: someone had bought a car that achieved phenomenal mileage only due to having an ‘experimental and advanced carburator’—a car that unwittingly was ‘lost’ by the factory, surrendered by its owner for a ‘handsome sum’, and who was obligated never to reveal the experience.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    “Rust-free car from The South.”
    Not even remotely true. Notice how you’ll find a puddle of water under your car on a hot day, and the source is condensation from your car’s a/c system. Well, in The South, the drains from those a/c system frequently clog. Then the water drains under the carpet where the owner can’t see that it’s wet. Eventually, it rusts through.

    Another equivalent is “Rust free car from the Arizona or California.” Yes, it might be rust free, but every plastic or leather item in it has been baked to death and exposed to high levels of UV. Plus, if it’s been in California, you can look forward to a complete drivetrain rebuild.

  • avatar
    CoffeeJones

    @tesla deathwatcher

    That hypermiling can double your miles per gallon.

    I’ve heard stories of cars like the old Honda Insight tailgating a truck.
    There’s a certain point where the air pushed out of the way of the truck falls back into place behind the cab, creating a suction effect which pulls anything close to it along. It’s not powerful enough to force a car into rear ending the truck, but it has a decent amount of force.The result is insane mileage.

    Don’t do this.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    My pet peeve is the myth that diesel engines are a savior for high fuel prices. Anyone who says that simply knows nothing about oil production and the refining process. You can only squeeze so much diesel fuel from a barrel of oil and it’s price spiked much higher last year because diesel was hitting its supply limit.

    To convert N. America to a diesel fleet on par with Europe would require more oil than the world can currently produce ~ and leave one heck of a gasoline glut.

    In supply scarcity you are much better off with a gasoline ICE because diesel fuel will be allocated to agriculture, military, freight and naval uses long before gasoline ever will. And since oil production is dropping in key non-OPEC areas like Mexico, North Sea and Alaska I’m quite content to have a high efficiency gasoline powered vehicle.

    On a lighter note, this one made me spit my Monday morning coffee on the keyboard.

    Two: That the virtues of a Crown Vic (that only apply to fleet buyers) somehow redeems all the horrible characteristics that make normal people buy Camrys, Accords and Malibus instead.

    No one cares that you can hop curbs or perform PIT manuevers or repair the frame with two trees, some rope and a big hammer. The car, otherwise, sucks. Saying it’s somehow something that everyone should consider is like suggesting someone intending to buy a RAV/4 or CR-V should consider the Lada Niva.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    The drive I just did from Boston to NJ made me think of a new myth that is developing:

    Hypermiling in the fast lane saves gas.

    Perhaps for the driver of said car there is a modest gain in MPG’s. However, when you trace the traffic ripple from the first car that has to brake hard to avoid rear-ending the hypermiler going 52mph in the fast lane all the way to the back of the line, you will find cars actually coming to a dead stop. This wastes far more gas than can be saved by one car in the best of conditions.

  • avatar

    I’d like to put my 2 cents into the Lucas legend –

    As I mentioned, I worked on British bikes for a while. They were exclusively Lucas electrics. We had a complete inventory of new-old stock Lucas parts for original parts restorations.

    I often dealt with electrical problems on various Brit bikes, but you could chalk that up to them being old machines (corrosion does wonders for electrical connections). What you can’t ignore is the horrible engineering of Lucas parts – for instance, turn signal bulbs were grounded THROUGH PLASTIC. Yep, instead of running a wire through to the bulb, the ground was (theoretically) transmitted through the “chrome” plated plastic. In reality this rarely worked, and I spent many hours making new ground wires for wonky turn signals. Then there were the horrible little bullet connectors that would fall apart if you sneezed on them, and the relays that sometimes didn’t work right out of the package, and other fun stuff. I swore off British bikes by the time I finished my stint, and I still dread working on any electrical system.

  • avatar
    70 Chevelle SS454

    Modern fiberglass and plastic, crush zone, type cars are safer. Because no one in a big truck or all-steel pre-1990 American car ever hits them. And it doesn’t take the jaws of life to open a 2-week old 1999 Dodge Avenger that gets dinged in a parking lot.

  • avatar
    gntlben

    Rev Junkie – Plus, what’s with convertibles with A/C? Can’t they just put the top down!?

    I’ve found that when I take the top down on my Miata the interior actually gets hotter, or at least my back sweat indicates as much.


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