We’ve heard it all before: warm up your car in the morning before you drive and shift into neutral when you’re at a traffic stop; the list goes on. Do these hold any truth? We list a few car myths and old tales that have been floating around and find out the truth behind them.
Using mobile phones at petrol stations
The myth: The use of mobile phones at petrol stations could cause a fire because the microwaves emitted from a mobile phone could generate a spark and ignite petrol fumes.
The truth: According to a news report by The Star, electrical engineering professor Dr. Chandima Gomes explained that while microwaves can generate sparks when they come into contact with metal, the waves emitted from phones are too weak to create an explosion. This myth was even put to the test by Discovery Channel’s MythBusters and debunked.
Despite scientific evidence disproving this, the use of mobile phones is still prohibited at petrol stations and we should all follow the law.
Warming up your engine before driving
The myth: Driving your car without first warming it up will damage the engine.
The truth: This myth is partially true. Carburetors in older cars need to warm up to work well. Otherwise, the carburetor won’t be able to get the optimum mix of air and fuel in the engine, resulting in rough running that may be bad for the engine in the long term.
However, modern cars feature electronic fuel injection which does not require the wait. If you need to warm up your engine, drive off slowly for a minute or two before picking up speed.
Shifting into neutral at a traffic light
The myth: Shifting into neutral at every traffic stop will increase wear and tear on the transmission.
The truth: Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer but experienced individuals like Jason Fenske from YouTube channel Engineering Explained have said that because there isn’t much wear since the vehicle isn’t moving, there really isn’t any reason to shift to neutral at all. Comparably, an article written by Joey Bernardez, Technical Editor of Top Gear Philippines, mentioned that he does it personally and has a car with over 200,000km on its odometer without any transmission issues.
Manual versus automatic transmissions
The myth: Manual transmissions are always more efficient than automatic transmissions.
The truth: In the old days, this was mostly true. Automatic transmissions back then were less sophisticated and often had fewer gears (typically three or four) than manual transmissions (normally four or five). Generally, the fewer the gears, the harder the engine has to work and so, the more fuel it consumes.
However, today’s automatic transmissions are a lot more efficient, thanks to electronic control and the use of modern materials to minimise power losses and reduce weight. Automatic transmissions also have more gears now. Many have six speeds; some have seven, eight or even nine, bettering manual transmissions which have largely peaked at six speeds.
Plus, advancements such as continuously-variable transmissions and dual-clutch transmissions have all but made manual transmissions a dying breed.
Your car value is lower because it’s an e-hailing vehicle
The myth: You will get a lower resale value for your e-hailing vehicle because it isn’t a private vehicle.
The truth: No, you will not. The belief that you will get a lower price because it was previously used as an e-hailing vehicle is false. Your vehicle value will be subject to its condition and mileage, just as any other passenger vehicle.