22 Car Myths We Thought Were True, But Were Later Debunked

Life has been much easier ever since the automobile has been around. From traveling to shipments, pretty much everything now depends on them. Most of us currently own a car or have driven one sometime in the past, yet surprisingly, the number of people who actually know what goes on under the hood of their car is quite small.

Because of this, people who don’t know much about how their car works tend to believe what others say around them even if it's about the most basic stuff. The big downside to this is that it gives credibility to certain facts that end up being nothing more than complete myths despite the fact that they sound really cool and you desperately want them to be true. We set out to search for some of the most famous ones and came up with this list of 22 car myths that we thought were true but were debunked later. Most of these will help you learn more about cars, but some might even end up saving you money.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

22 Manual Transmission Offers Better Fuel Economy

Via dealerfire.com

While an automatic transmission is pretty common in the United States, in Europe and Asia, people generally prefer driving a manual. Most people have their own set of reasons behind why a manual is better than an automatic, but the most widely held belief is that a manual transmission offers much better fuel economy than an automatic.

This might’ve been true many years ago when the automatic transmission was a fairly new technology, but recent advances, such as the continuously variable transmission, have removed any advantage that a manual transmission had. In certain cases, it's even better. It all now comes down to your own personal preference, and most car enthusiasts are definitely still going to prefer a manual transmission over an automatic one.

21 Flying Cars Are The Future

Via cheapfleet.co.uk

We’ve been hearing this ever since we were kids. This was what every single depiction of the future back in the day had, a huge metropolis with flying cars whizzing between the tall buildings.

Many of the technologies that were predicted back then have become a reality such as video-calling, smartphones, and such. Even automobile technology has come a long way since the days of past, with things like hybrid cars and self-driving vehicles. The whole flying car concept, however, is still around and kicking, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll ever come to fruition. There's just so much that's involved when it comes to getting a car airborne, and it gets even more ridiculous when we start thinking about making it a viable means of transportation for millions of people. Are self-driving cars the future? Definitely, but flying cars? Not so much.

20 Jet Fuel Makes Your Car Go Faster

Via liftndrag.blogspot.com

We have no idea where this one came from, but it turns out that there's a good number of people who actually believe in this. Jet fuel is the type of fuel that's used to power, well, jet aircraft, which is why many people think that if they were to fill up their car with kerosene jet fuel, it would make them faster.

Thing is, however, your traditional car engine cannot burn any sort of jet fuel at all. The entire combustion process of kerosene jet fuel is different from your traditional petrol or diesel. Definite proof of this was when a company ended up accidentally delivering jet fuel to a gas station in New Jersey. All of the cars that were filled up with it stalled and couldn’t move at all.

19 Oil Changes Are Nothing But Scams

Via xlraceparts.com

We’re not even sure why this one even exists. Anyone who's been driving a car for a while should know that there are certain things that you should always check for and maintain on your car, such as the tire pressure, water inside the radiator, and engine oil.

Still, many people don’t even pay any attention to these, which is almost always a recipe for disaster. See, your engine has a lot of moving parts, and to ensure that they have enough lubrication to operate smoothly, they need engine oil. An oil change isn't a conspiracy to take all of your money. It's a necessity if you plan on making sure that your car will last a good number of years.

18 Bullets Make Cars Explode

Via mindamuse.com

This one is the big Hollywood dream, and if you don’t believe us, then ask Michael Bay. Almost every big blockbuster action flick with an intense car-chase sequence has one of these scenes where a guy shoots as the gas tank of a car, and it blows up in a big fiery explosion.

It would make sense if you think about it since bullets are very hot, but at the same time, they're also extremely fast. The guys at the famous Discovery show Mythbusters set up an experiment where they shot the gas tank of a car multiple times; however, unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you look at it) the car didn’t blow up. Instead, the bullets were fast enough to go straight through the tank without igniting the fuel.

17 Cheap Air Intakes Add Extra Horsepower

Via amazon.com

Look, not all of us are rich enough to buy an Italian supercar, but those of us who are still passionate about cars in general usually like to tinker around with our daily drivers and other cars that we happen to own.

There are a number of ways you can usually go about this, but a lot of them are small changes that, when done properly, can increase your car’s horsepower by a small amount. A common concept that many people have is that adding a cold air intake will boost the performance of their car. Yes, we do admit that they look and sound really cool, but it simply won’t add an additional 20 horsepower on its own, especially if it’s one of those cheap ones that you bought off of eBay.

16 Using Phone Near A Gas Station Could Cause Fire

Via publicbroatcasting.net

This one has been around ever since cell phones started becoming commonplace. The concept is that using a cell phone near a gas station can result in a fire, and that can never be good at a gas station.

This is why you usually see the ‘Do Not Use Cellphone’ signs plastered everywhere on a gas station. A while ago, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) decided to do some research on this that whether a wireless signal could actually ignite fuel vapors or not. As it turns out, there were no documented incidents present that would indicate that a wireless device was the direct cause of a fire incident at a gas station. Some experiments were also conducted, and even they couldn’t prove a link between cell phones and fuel vapors.

15 Filling Up In The Morning Gets You More Fuel

Via medium.com

According to some people, this is a trick that gas station owners simply don’t want you to know since it could put them at a loss. The idea is that during the morning, the temperature is usually cool, which, as a result, makes the gasoline denser, and hence, you’d get more fuel per gallon when filling up.

While we would really like this one to be true, especially with the rising fuel prices and all, it, unfortunately, isn’t. Fuel is stored in underground tanks, and inside these, the temperature almost always remains constant. That's why it doesn’t really matter what time of the day you decide to fill up your car because you’ll always be getting the same amount of fuel out of that nozzle.

14 Spoilers On Average Cars Actually Do Something

Via twitter.com

What's the easiest way to make your car look as if it goes really fast? Well, all you need to do is slap a spoiler on it, or that's the ricer way, at least. Spoilers have been a thing of controversy for a very long time now.

On most performance cars, a spoiler actually serves a purpose, and that's to generate a certain amount of downforce when the car reaches a certain speed. Some really advanced spoilers adjust themselves automatically according to the speed of the car, and those huge spoilers you see on Formula F1 cars? Well, they can generate enough downforce to enable the driver to drive the car upside down. So, what does a spoiler do for your daily commuter? Absolutely nothing, apart from making it look ridiculous.

13 Cars Can Protect You From Bullets

Via ladysmithgazette.co.za

This is yet another car myth that's been made famous courtesy of Hollywood movies and video games. The general idea is that if you’re caught in the middle of a shootout on the street, your best bet is to hide behind a car.

Now, bullets come in all shapes and sizes, which means that some of them have more penetrating power than others. Rifle rounds, in particular, can easily go through steel, which means that hiding behind a car is never a safe bet. Surely, it's better than nothing if there isn’t any sort of cover around, but your best chances of surviving would be if you can hide behind something sturdy made of stone or brick. The myth was also put to the test by the former Top Gear trio during their trip through the Middle East, which proved that bullets can go straight through a car without much effort.

12 Fuel-Saving Devices Can Work Wonders

Via amazon.com

We’re pretty sure you’ve seen a few “as seen on TV” commercials about these during your late-night random channel browsing. Most of them claim to do wonders, allegedly saving the user a significant sum of the fuel cost that they normally spend each month.

The truth is that none of these devices actually work, despite all of the paid testimonials that you might see during the commercials with the intent of making you think otherwise. If such a technology existed, car manufacturers would've already had them installed, especially with everyone focusing on hybrid technology and ways to make their cars even greener. Most of the modern engines are already very fuel efficient, so we definitely recommend staying away from any fuel-saving devices at all costs.

11 Off-Brand Gas Will Damage Your Engine

Via wikimedia.org

Another concept among a lot of drivers is that filling up your car on an off-brand gas station might end up damaging your engine and performance. The idea is that the quality of the fuel offered on these stations is sub-standard.

To understand this, it's important to point out that what a lot of people don't know is that all of the fuel that you can get, either from a famous brand station or a generic one, has to go through the same set of quality control and testing. Brands like Shell and Mobil do sometimes add stuff to the fuel, which helps keep the engine clean, but this doesn’t mean that fuel without these additives will be harmful. Your vehicle should essentially perform the same on both.

10 EPA Economy Figures For Cars Are Accurate

Via prrbiz.com

We're all familiar with car-mileage figures that are put out by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) whenever a new car comes out. This can be an important factor for a lot of people when deciding which car to buy, but in reality, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

In most cases, these figures are produced under ideal conditions, which means that it's the mileage you should be getting if everything is perfect, which is never really the case in real life. A better way to make a correct estimate of the mileage that a car will most probably give is by checking online reviews from people who own that particular vehicle and then comparing it with your driving habits.

9 Electric Cars Are More Likely To Catch Fire After A Crash

Via reuters.com

Electric cars are the next big thing, and ever since Tesla has shown up on the scene, they've been the talk of the town. Many countries are now planning to gradually phase out gasoline-powered cars in favor of electric vehicles, and automobile manufacturers seem to be following suit as well.

Yet, any trend that becomes famous is also the subject of controversy, and in this case, electric cars aren’t any different either. In the past couple of years, every time a Chevy Volt caught on fire, it would be all over the news. This prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to launch an investigation, which revealed that an electric car didn't pose any serious fire risk when compared to a car with a combustion engine. So, if that was what was stopping you from getting an electric vehicle, you need not worry.

8 There's A Mid-Engine Corvette On The Way

Via pinterest.com

This one is as old as the flying-cars myth. More specifically, it's been around ever since the Corvette first came out and became famous. Still, it's one of those that we desperately wish came true, and we still hope that it someday might.

Most of the rumors about this often stem from unofficial sources claiming that Chevrolet is working to make a mid-engine Corvette, which would be a dream car for a lot of people, yet we're disappointed each year. Many claim it only to be a couple years away from official production, but once again, there's no credibility to these rumors since Chevy has never given out any official statement about this. Still, no harm in dreaming, right?

7 Engine Oil Should Be Changed Every 3,000 Miles Or Never

Via whocanfixmycar.com

It seems to us that a lot of people simply can’t agree when it comes to engine oil. One would assume that this wouldn’t really be a topic of discussion, but here we are. On one end of the spectrum, we have people who believe that oil changes are a complete scam, while on the other end, there are people who believe that an oil change after every 3,000 miles is a must.

The truth is that neither of them is true. The whole 3,000-mile thing was true about older cars, but newer cars can easily manage 10k miles before they need an oil change. It's still important, however, as you can’t go without changing the oil forever since it'll essentially damage your engine.

6 Premium Fuel Will Make Your Car Run Better

Via hgmsites.net

Usually, whenever you go to a gas station, there are two types of fuel available. You have your standard gasoline, and then, you have premium fuel. The common belief with this one that most people seem to have is that putting premium fuel in your car will make it perform better.

Just like the jet-fuel myth, this isn’t true either. However, with the jet fuel, your car would never go anywhere, but with premium, you would still be able to drive. The type of fuel is usually available for powerful engines that need to have less combustible fuel in order to run properly. There's no point then in paying more for fuel that won’t end up giving any benefits to your Toyota Camry.

5 Clean Cars Are Less Fuel Efficient Than Dirty Ones

Via thenational.ae

This is one of those myths that left us scratching our heads for a good while. It's crazy how some of these even came about, yet here we are. The myth, in particular, states that a dirty car will be more fuel efficient than a clean one, all thanks to the science of aerodynamics.

Apparently, someone thought that dirt on a car worked the same way as dimples on a golf ball, meaning that it reduced the overall drag on the car and made it more fuel efficient. Something tells us that this was probably the most elaborate excuse made up by somebody to explain why their car was always so dirty. Mythbusters also decided to give this one a shot and found out that a dirty car had, in fact, 10% more drag than a clean one.

4 A Prius Gives Less Mileage Than A BMW M3

Via hearstapps.com and toyota.co.uk

You probably saw this one if you were a fan of the old Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. Throughout the series, Jeremy was always shown to hate electric and hybrid cars, especially the Prius, stating that it was no better in fuel economy than the BMW M3, and thus, this famous myth was born.

What most people didn’t realize was that the test was done on a track with the Prius being driven as fast as possible and the M3 barely trying to keep up. Under certain conditions, the M3 does end up being more fuel efficient than the hybrid, but if you’ll be driving on public roads, the Prius would be your best bet if you’re looking to save some money on fuel.

3 Red Cars Get More Tickets

Via youtube.com

A while ago, there was some report on the internet, the report suggesting that your chances of getting pulled over were highly dependent on the color of your car. It also mentioned that the color to most likely get a ticket was red since it mostly looks exotic and catches the attention of any officer easily.

However, this myth isn't true at all because a later study conducted by Quality Planning found out that color didn't play any part in the likelihood of you getting a ticket or not. Turns out, the most ticketed car, according to Forbes, is the Mercedes-Benz SL Class convertible, which honestly makes sense since the car can go from 0 to 60 in only 4.4 seconds.

2 A Cold Engine Needs To Be Warmed Up During Winters

Via youtube.com

This is perhaps the most controversial of car myths out there. After all, the one thing that we were always told before taking a car out in the winter was to warm it up first and that not doing so would end up damaging the engine of the car.

There's no doubt about the fact that a car engine is at a much lower efficiency than it normally would be when it's cold, but letting it idle is also completely unnecessary. Allow us to explain. When your engine is idling, it's at its lowest power output, meaning that there isn’t a lot of heat being generated to warm it up. At idle, the car would take much longer to warm than it would if you were to simply drive it. Considering this, it's not really necessary to warm up your car in the winter.

1 Bigger Cars Are Safer In A Crash Than Smaller Ones

Via youtube.com

For a lot of people, this particular myth is dictated by common sense. After all, in the unfortunate event of an accident, you would want as much mass as possible between you and the object you’re colliding with.

This might’ve been the case back in the day, but it isn’t anymore. Modern cars, even the smaller ones, are specifically designed with passenger safety in mind. The frames of these cars essentially have something that we call crumple zones, parts of the chassis that are meant to crumple under the effect of an external force, absorbing it in the process. A study done by Monash University proved that weight and size aren’t really big factors when it comes to measuring safety in the event of a crash.

Sources: Jalopnik, Business Insider, Budget Direct

More in Motor Hub