Cars are one of the reasons behind humanity’s rapid progress over the last century. In spite of cars being so widely used, with most American adults being able to drive, there seems to be a severe lack of understanding of how they really work. And it also turns out that much of what they think they know is totally wrong.
With the Internet at our fingertips, it’s easy to find information about any car question you have. The trouble is, it also leaves room for lots of fake facts. The internet has given myths and misinformation a new home, with “trustworthy forum sources” replacing common sense and good old-fashioned research.
For the purposes of education, we've compiled 20 common yet ridiculous car myths. Some of these beliefs are outdated due to technological advancement, some are just misunderstandings, and a few might be dangerous. But they're all total bunk.
20 V8 Is Better Than V6
Thank you, Ford, for helping to dispel V6 myths. Although Japanese automakers tried to boost interest in twin-turbo technology in the 1980s and 1990s, it was the Blue Oval that made it stick. Yes, the GT-R is awesome, and the new NSX is astonishing, but people still don’t believe they can match a big-block V8. The Ford GT harnesses 647 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque via a mid-mounted V6.
19 They're Made In America
Toyota actually holds the reins for most American-made automobiles. People don’t understand it’s not just where a car is assembled that grants it American authenticity. It’s from which country its components hail. The Big Three have a plethora of production plants sprinkled across America, but they also order parts from manufacturers outside the United States and build cars in Germany, Brazil, India, Mexico, China, etc...
18 Aluminum Cars Aren't As Strong As Steel
Other automakers might make jabs at Ford over its use of high-strength aluminum, saying it’s inferior to steel. But there is plenty of proof that states otherwise. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study showed Ford’s aluminum F-150 was the safest pickup in the segment. During crash testing, the extended SuperCab F-150 outperformed competitive trucks from Chevrolet, GMC, Toyota, and Ram, debunking the myth.
17 Special Order Vehicles Cost More
Special ordering the car you want could potentially save time and money in several ways. According to Edmunds, instead of having to settle for whatever the vehicle on the lot has as far as equipment and color, by factory ordering, you choose the options and color you desire and the dealer won’t have to pay finance charges, which might actually reduce your cost.
16 Services At Unauthorized Shops Voids Warranty
There are many myths surrounding how and where you can get your vehicle serviced, one of them being that going anywhere other than the authorized dealer will void your warranty. We’re not sure where it comes from, but in the U.S., it’s actually illegal for a car manufacturer or dealer to claim that. Per the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, they can’t void your warranty for going to unauthorized servicing shops.
15 Red Cars Are More Expensive To Insure
Around 44 percent of Americans think that it's more expensive to insure red cars, but it’s not true. This idea can probably be traced back to the belief that red cars are in more accidents, though there’s no evidence to prove that, either. If there was statistical evidence to prove that red cars are more dangerous, wouldn’t the government ban them?
14 Red Cars Are Also Pulled Over For Speeding More Often
Another red car myth. There is a common misconception that if you drive a red car, you are more likely to get pulled over by the cops. While drivers of certain car makes and colors are more likely to be pulled over by police officers, red cars actually came second in a recent study, behind white cars and just ahead of silver and black vehicles.
13 Model T Fords Only Came In Black
According to legend, Henry Ford’s most famous quote stems from when he started building his famous Model T cars. He is reported to have said: “you can have any color, as long as it’s black.” A great quote and a great story – and a great lie! Ford Model T cars were actually available in a number of colors, including black, blue, brown, green and even bright red.
12 There's No Replacement For Displacement
This is a popular statement with the muscle car crowd. It was true at one point - back when big-block V8s ruled the American highways. Today, it makes no sense as technology has long since replaced the displacement. Forced induction, variable valve timing, and just better and more precise engineering has resulted in smaller engines producing more power than any big-block muscle car.
11 Modern Muscle Cars Are As Good As European Sports Cars
There is some truth to this, but only in certain circumstances. While modern American muscle cars have come a long way in regards to suspension and chassis setup, they're not quite up to the standard of Euro sports cars. They do pack a serious punch on the straightaways though, which has created a myth that they're just as good around a track.
10 Classic American Cars Are An Investment
We've lost count of how many TV shows there have been that have told us how valuable classic cars have become. However, there's more to it than just buying an old car and hoping that it will eventually become more valuable. It seems the prices of American classics have stabilized somewhat after the bubble burst some years ago.
9 Modern American Cars Are Boring
Spend some time with a group of car enthusiasts and you're bound to hear them complain about how American cars aren't as interesting as they once were. It seems that every car company is just making awful crossovers. However, they seem to forget that there were always boring cars sold alongside exciting ones, and only remember the special cars. Besides, there are plenty of fun new cars sold today.
8 American Good, Foreign Bad
It's almost unbelievable that this myth still exists. Back in the 70s and 80s the Japanese were building cars that were superior to American-made vehicles in every way. These days, the Koreans are doing the same - Hyundai and Kia's rosters are filled with famed German designers and engineers - yet many people choose to believe that U.S. cars are better - they're wrong, of course.
7 Horsepower Is More Important Than Torque
Jay Leno said it best: “Horsepower sells cars, but torque wins races.” For decades, Americans have been duped into believing myths that extreme horsepower numbers win both bragging rights and drag races. But it’s actually torque they should be praising. Don’t buy into the myths that high horsepower will always make you fast - if there's no torque, acceleration will be sluggish.
6 The 3000-Mile Oil Change Myth
For decades, Americans were told their cars required oil changes every 3,000 miles. Because engine oil serves as both a lubricant and a coolant, erring on the side of caution was the general rule of thumb. A report by Edmunds claims many Americans still rely upon this “outdated 3,000-mile oil change commandment,” wasting millions of dollars annually. Many modern vehicles safely hit the 5,000-mile mark on a single oil change.
5 Regular Tune-Ups
Another widely held belief about servicing is that the car needs to be “tuned up” periodically to keep it in shape. This myth is a vestige of the times when cars really did need to be tuned up regularly. Parts needed replacing and repairing a lot more often in the past, but that’s not true anymore. Routine maintenance and occasionally checking if everything’s working is still recommended though.
4 American Cars Don't Have The Build Quality Of Japanese Vehicles
While traditionally it was thought that Japanese manufacturers made the highest quality vehicles and American made cars were of lesser quality, recent studies suggest that times have changed. These days, there aren't any really bad cars that will constantly break down, and buying Japanese, American, or European will get you roughly the same quality but with different levels of luxury and power.
3 The Old Cars Were Better
Anyone who believes that old cars are always better than new cars need a reality check. Sure, some older cars have become classic collectors’ items, but any US-made vehicle that's 20+ years old is probably in the need for a lot more TLC than a brand new American car. If you want a car that'll give you the least amount of problems, buy a 21st-century car.
2 Bigger Is Safer
Crossovers, SUVs, and pickups have become the go-to vehicles for many car buyers. One of the reasons for their popularity may be their perceived safety over smaller vehicles. However, there's no proof that large cars are inherently safer. In fact, in 2016, two minicars were awarded Top Safety Pick status by the IIHS, while only one full-size pickup was good enough.
1 Winter Warm-Ups
This is one of those car myths that has been around for as long as cars have existed. It was true that you needed to let the car run for a while back in the day when cars had carburetors, but the best way to get your modern car warmed up is to drive it. Letting it sit in your driveway to idle isn’t going to make a big difference - unless you need to clear the windows of ice.