Cars are very complex machines that require many different components to work together. With so many different cars having so much going on under the skin, it was always inevitable that certain myths surrounding these mechanical wonders would arise. There are some myths that came from past facts that have since become obsolete due to technological advancements. Others have always been about as true as Bigfoot. Particularly, there are many myths about cheap performance modifications that are completely false. If there was a way to make your car faster with less money, automakers would have already done it. Such myths are simply created through the spread of misinformation and a public misunderstanding of cars.
However, there many of these myths that are harmless beliefs about specific types of cars that are just factually incorrect. Even though there’s nothing damaging about these types of myths, it’s still false information being spread around as fact. It’s worth making an attempt to stop the spread of misinformation, even if it is insignificant and trivial in the grand scheme of things. On the other side, there are myths that are actively costing people money due to misleading information. If you've been duped by any of these myths, you may want to change your ways to save a little cash. So here are 20 car myths that you need to stop believing.
20 Performance Chips Make Your Car Faster
There are many websites that will sell a performance chip for your car claiming that it will increase your power output by some arbitrary amount. Now, some tuners can reprogram or replace a car’s ECU, allowing the motor to run in a slightly different way to produce more power. There are even some cars that have ECUs that can be modified via a plug-in tuner which allows owners to modify their car on the fly. However, such devices are not the same as the performance chips that you’ll find on eBay.
Many of these chips don’t do anything other than turn on a light to make you think that it's doing something.
On top of that, some of these chips claim to be universal, which is impossible, given the diversity of car ECUs. If you’re going to get your ECU tuned, get it properly dyno-tuned by an expert.
19 Cold Air Intakes Add Power
It’s a well-known fact that cooler air is better for an engine than hot air, due to cooler air’s higher density. With this in mind, there are many different companies willing sell you ‘cold air intakes’ in many diverse shapes and designs. The simplest ones are basically conical pod filters, while more complex models have modified intake tubes and air boxes. However, such modifications rarely increase horsepower. The internet car show Mighty Car Mods did multiple dyno runs with cold air intakes in different cars and found that every car lost power in comparison to the factory airbox. The only time they found an increase in power was when the air filter was mounted outside of the car. Cold air intakes simply aren’t worth the money unless you really want that intake sound.
18 Front-Wheel-Drive is Bad
If there’s one unequivocal truth among gearheads, it’s that there is no worse layout for a car than front-wheel-drive.
Asking the front wheels to both provide power and steering input at the same time is too much for them to handle.
Such a setup can result in catastrophic understeer and torque steer in high power applications. Front-wheel-drive simply cannot provide the same rewarding driving experience of rear and all-wheel-drive layouts of other cars. However, there are plenty of benefits of a front-wheel-drive layout. For practicality, front-wheel-drive cars can be designed with a flat floor and lower, more open storage area. Besides that, there are many examples of quick cars that spin the front wheels, such as the Ford Focus ST, VW Golf GTI, and Honda Civic Type-R. While these may not drive the same way as rear-wheel-drive cars, they’re still a lot of fun.
17 Old Cars are Better
Everybody likes to talk about the good old days. Whether its discussing gorgeous European exotics such as the Jaguar E-Type or Ferrari Daytona, or burly muscle cars like the Chevrolet Camaro or a Dodge Charger. Perhaps it’s the jaw-dropping styling that was unhampered by safety regulations or the simpler designs of the interior that make these cars so amazing. However, there are many different reasons why old cars are objectively worse than modern cars.
Classic cars are horrendously unsafe, and old automobiles simply don’t benefit from modern build quality standards.
Even if they did, the parts would wear out before too long, due to the poor material choices available at the time. While these cars’ styling and simplicity are good enough reasons to buy such vehicles, there are still many cons of driving classic cars over modern ones.
16 Police Cars are Fast
We’ve all seen the movies and played the video games where police cars bear down on the heroes, regardless of what cars they are driving. It doesn’t seem that far-fetched, as many police cars have large motors. Besides, such cars are specifically designed for catching bad guys, a job that one would assume requires some power. There are a few cases when this is true, such as the EcoBoost Ford Police Interceptors and the Hemi-powered Dodge Chargers.
However, most squad cars are not equipped with these high-performance motors, but instead the standard V6 engines that save fuel.
Even the legendary V8-powered Crown Victoria Police Interceptor only produced 250 horsepower and crawled to 60 in around eight seconds. Furthermore, police cars are weighed down by the wide array of equipment required for police use. But remember, you’ll never outrun a police radio.
15 Lower is better
A popular modification among car enthusiasts is lowering their car’s suspension. There are many reasons to lower the ride height of a car, as it can improve the car’s looks and lower its center of gravity, potentially improving the car’s handling as well. Lowering the suspension also means that the springs will be stiffer, due to a shorter length of travel, which can theoretically further aid handling. Unfortunately, while all of this may work in theory, it only works if you have the correct setup. After all, your car wasn’t designed to use modified springs. There are also many poorly designed lowering kits, some of which are even dangerous. If you’re planning on lowering your car for whatever reason, make sure to pick your parts carefully and do some research, even if you are lowering your car for the looks.
14 No Replacement for Displacement
If there’s one statement that’s widely associated with the muscle car crowd, it’s the term ‘there’s no replacement for displacement.’ This statement was true at one point, back when big block V8s ruled the American highways. At the time, muscle cars produced crazy amounts of power, which resulted in a horsepower war between the big three. However, the displacement statement ignores how far technology has come over the years.
Turbocharging and supercharging have become an easy and efficient way to produce more power, resulting in many small cars producing more power than any big block muscle car.
Even naturally aspirated motors have seen many benefits. Back in 1970, the Dodge Challenger needed 7.2-liters of displacement to produce 375 horsepower, while today’s 5.7-liter Hemi-powered Challenger produces the same amount. And the modern car does that while meeting emissions standards and returning 25 MPG highway.
13 Bigger is Safer
Like it or not, crossovers, SUVs, and pickups have become the go-to vehicles for many drivers all around the world. Crossovers, in particular, have become popular for their SUV-like practicality while retaining car-like driving characteristics and gas mileage. Another reason for their popularity may be their perceived safety over smaller vehicles. While small cars can undeniably be less safe, due to a combination of low-cost designs and basic physics, this doesn’t mean that large cars are inherently safer. The IIHS did a series of tests on the most popular pickups on the market in 2016. Only one pickup, the F-150, got a good overall safety rating, while the others received acceptable or marginal ratings; hardly impressive for such large vehicles. For comparison, two minicars were awarded Top Safety Pick status by the IIHS, while only one full-size pickup did.
12 The Dodge Charger is an Old Mercedes E-Class
The Chrysler LX platform is a full-size rear-wheel-drive platform that serves as the basis for the Dodge Charger, Challenger, Magnum and Chrysler 300. This line of vehicles was first launched in 2005, shortly after Mercedes’ acquisition of Chrysler. Before the cars were even launched, rumors of these new Mopars being a simple body swap of the contemporary Mercedes E-Class spread throughout the car world. While the LX platform does contain a number of Mercedes components, it is not a simple body swap of an E-Class. Even just looking at the LX cars will tell you this, as they are considerably larger and have different proportions to the Mercedes it’s supposedly based off. It’s also worth noting that development of the LX platform started before the merger. Despite these facts, the myth persists to this day, as several Hellcat reviews specifically mention that it’s simply an old Mercedes underneath.
11 Technology Will Save You from Bad Driving
New cars are released every year with new technologies that are designed to make them safer. These range from simple changes to improve structural rigidity, to sensors that detect objects in the road and tell the car to stop all by itself. Even governments have stepped forward, requiring new cars to have stability control and rear-view cameras. Many cars are even designed with semi-autonomous abilities, such as speed-sensitive cruise control and lane keep assist. However, even with all of these features, cars won’t prevent bad drivers from exhibiting poor driving characteristics. Even the safest of cars with the most electronic sensors and computing power won’t stop a bad driver from causing accidents. It seems that autonomous cars will be the only way to keep bad drivers off the road permanently.
10 Muscle Cars Can’t Corner
If there’s one catch-all criticism of muscle cars, it’s their focus on straight-line performance rather than cornering capabilities. After all, with such big, heavy V8 motors weighing down the front of the car and archaic suspension designs, it seems obvious that these cars have little focus on handling. Modern muscle cars are much the same. However, this is simply not the case. Classic muscle cars often required heavy duty suspension to be optioned alongside the powerful V8 motors. Not to mention, there was not one, but two muscle cars were named after the Trans-Am series, an American racing series where there are left and right turns throughout a lap. And as far as modern cars go, the Shelby Mustang GT350 and Camaro 1LE cars have proven to be faster than many European sports and supercars that cost considerably more.
9 Supercars are the Fastest Cars Available
If there’s one type of car that is guaranteed to be fast, it’s the supercar. These cars are designed solely for the pursuit of performance, with their powerful motors, slippery body shapes and life-changing handling. Supercars absolutely earn their name and show off why they’re worth their astronomical asking prices. However, these so-called ‘super’ cars are having some trouble fighting off considerably cheaper cars these days. For acceleration and top speed, there are many highly modified cars that cost far less than supercars, while being noticeably quicker.
Even factory cars are nearly as fast as supercars around the track. Chevrolet’s Corvettes and Camaros have proven to be faster around the track than Ferraris, McLarens, and Lamborghinis in Car and Driver’s Lightning Laps.
On top of it all, it doesn’t take long for supercars to be outdated.
8 All SUVs are Good Off-Roaders
It’s no secret that the world is clamoring for SUVs and crossovers. With many of these vehicles being optioned with all or four-wheel drive, it’s likely that owners think that these cars have some off-road capability. While crossovers have more ground clearance than the cars they’re based off, neither crossovers nor the truck-based SUVs of today have strong off-road capabilities anymore. Due to the need for improved fuel economy and safety, these types of vehicles have actually seen reduced ride heights and worsened approach angles. For everyday use, these changes will only have positive impacts, and the four-wheel-drive systems may help if you slip off the road. Just don’t bring your stock SUV to Moab, unless it’s a Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner.
7 Tune-Ups are Necessary
After driving your car for so long, you may think that your car is tired and no longer drives the way you remember. You may have even heard that cars over 100,000 miles need to be either rebuilt or replaced. If you go with the former, you might ask your mechanic to do a tune-up. If your mechanic agrees, you should start shopping for a new one, as modern cars don’t need tune-ups. Once upon a time, older cars needed work on various parts to stay running properly, such as having their carburetor rebuilt. Older component designs and analog parts were incapable of staying properly tuned after long use. However, modern cars, with their computers and sensors, are able to constantly adjust for any changes and monitor many parts of the vehicle. Simply put, newer cars only need replacement of wear parts.
6 Oil Changes Every 3,000 Miles
Some may have heard that oil needs to be changed after 3,000 miles. This is completely unnecessary anymore. Back in the old days, engine oil simply didn’t last long, while today’s oils are made synthetically and are engineered to last considerably longer than the old-fashioned stuff.
Today’s cars with modern oil can last up to 10,000 miles without being changed, depending on the type of car and driving.
If you don’t believe this, then look in your car’s owner’s manual. While changing the oil every 3,000 miles won’t harm your car, it’s both pointless and a needless expense. On top of that, it’s extra strain on the environment, as perfectly good oil gets discarded for no good reason. Change your oil at the recommended intervals for both a healthy motor and a full wallet.
5 Automatics Suck
Much like front-wheel-drive, automatic transmissions are not very popular among automotive enthusiasts. Manual transmissions allow drivers to interact with their machine, as it hands more control over to the driver. While manuals can absolutely be more entertaining to drive than automatics, they aren’t necessarily the best option for everyone. Besides the practical, ease of use reasons to get an automatic, there are performance benefits as well.
While manual transmissions were faster and more economical than automatics in the past, this is no longer the case.
Even modern torque converter transmissions can shift considerably quicker and more reliably than any manual transmission. While it may be more entertaining to drive a stick, automatic transmissions are hardly the penalty that they once were. Don’t feel bad for preferring an automatic.
4 Buying New Cars to Save Gas Money
So, you bought a huge SUV back when gas was cheap, now it’s hard to keep its huge tank full? Not to mention, it’s starting to get up there in the years, and it’ll need some work sooner or later. Some might think that it’s time to buy a newer, more efficient car. There are even brand-new crossovers that are every bit as practical as your old car but get way better gas mileage. However, don’t buy a new car to save money. If keeping a gas guzzler running is too difficult, then it’ll probably be even more expensive to make payments on a new car that will still need to be refueled and may cost more to insure. It’s worth doing the math to see if a new ride will be worth the extra money, but it will likely cost more.
3 Cars are an Investment
There are many TV shows and auctions that show off how valuable classic cars have become. However, don’t get it in your head that you can earn money simply by buying a car and hoping that it will eventually become more valuable. The valuable cars are not only really rare but also old. It took a long time for such cars to become valuable. In fact, there are many examples of cars that are now classics that were once hated models. Simply put, it’s difficult to figure out which cars will eventually become classics in the future, and it’ll take a long time to find out. Sometimes cars that seemed like obvious future classics get replaced with something even more special. For instance, will a Dodge Hellcat be worth anything in the future, now that the faster, rarer Demon is out? Only time will tell.
2 Always Use Premium Gas
High octane gas is necessary for many high-performance cars. These powerful models have high compression motors that require the high-octane fuel to fully utilize the engine’s capabilities. Some gasoline vendors may even offer extra cleaning properties in their premium gas. However, unless your car requires premium fuel, it’s a waste of money to keep filling up with the expensive stuff. And those cleaning agents? Not worth it. Gasoline is required by the US government to be of a certain quality to be sold, which includes detergents. It’s just a gimmick to sell more gas. With that said, if your car recommends high-octane fuel, you should absolutely fill your car with it. While most modern cars can prevent damage caused by running on low-octane gas, it will likely result in reduced performance and fuel economy, possibly offsetting the money you saved from buying cheaper fuel.
1 Cars are More Boring than Ever
If there’s one thing that car enthusiasts will bemoan from now until the end of time, it’s how cars are no longer as interesting as they once were in the past. There are many reasons why this may seem true. After all, every car company is filling their lineups with awful crossovers. However, there’s one thing these people never account for: there were always boring cars sold alongside the exciting ones. We only remember the special ones. Besides, there are plenty of fun new cars sold by otherwise boring companies. Chevrolet makes the supercar-killing Camaro ZL1 1LE. Toyota makes the bang-for-your-buck 86. Even Lexus makes a pair of V8-powered performance coupes. If there are golden ages for car enthusiasts, we are absolutely in one right now.