Common car myths explained

Common car myths explained

Today we’ll be talking about some of the common car myths and the truth behind them so stick around.

Higher octane fuel is better
At number 1 we have higher octane fuel is better for your car and it gives you more power. Now when we talk about octane rating, this is referring to RON92 vs RON95 vs RON98. This myth is in fact not true as octane rating does not inherently produce more power. It is simply a fuel’s resistance to combustion and nothing more.

So what happens is that engines are designed with something called a compression ratio. This is basically how much the pistons compress the air and fuel that is fed to it. The higher the compression ratio, the more pressure is generated and hence the more easily fuel can be prematurely ignited which is something we do not want. High performance engines tend to have higher compression ratios which inevitably requires a higher octane rating fuel in order to function properly. 

By contrast, an engine with a lower compression ratio will run perfectly fine on a lower octane fuel and using a more expensive high octane fuel isn’t going to make any difference to how it runs.

Old cars are safer as they were built like a tank
Our second myth is that older cars were built more robust like tanks and are safer than the newer cars which seem to crumble on impact. Now this is a very common misconception that needs to be dispelled.

So what happens in an accident is that a large amount of force and energy is being directed onto the car. Since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it has to go somewhere. A car so stiffly built like a tank that is unable to deform actually means that the car is absorbing none of the energy being transferred to it. Where does this energy go? Unfortunately it goes entirely to the driver and the passengers.

Modern cars are designed to crush at certain key areas in order to absorb the energy and keep as much of it from being transferred to the driver and passengers as possible. The main structure surrounding the driver however is designed to stay intact to protect the driver while everything else around it crumbles. Because of this, modern cars are far safer than the older cars that supposedly appear sturdier but in fact have much poorer safety.

Manual is more fuel efficient
At number 3, we have manual transmissions are more fuel efficient than automatic transmissions. Now this used to be true in the past but is no longer the case now. When automatic transmissions first appeared, while being more convenient they also were less efficient as there were a lot of energy losses in the system. This resulted in the general acceptance that manual cars were more fuel efficient.

Fast forward several decades and automatic transmissions have made huge strides in technology and efficiency and today offer far wider gear ranges than what a manual transmission can offer. These advancements in efficiency today have exceeded that of manual transmissions thus rendering this myth no longer true.

You need to warm up your engine by idling
Our 4th myth says that we need to idle our car for awhile to warm up the engine before we begin driving. Now this used to be true several decades ago but it is no longer the case due to technological advancements in engines and lubricants. This advice also tends to apply to winter conditions which are not relevant to us here in Singapore.

Modern cars these days are perfectly fine moving off gently right after starting and is in fact a better way of getting the engine up to temperature faster than by leaving it to idle and waste fuel. Just take note not to pull high revs on your engine until it has warmed up especially on high performance engines.

Filling petrol in the morning gets you more for your money
And for number 5, we have filling up your petrol very early in the morning when it is cooler will give you more bang for the buck. The idea here is that cooler fuel is denser hence you will get more fuel density per liter pumped. The science behind this is actually not wrong, however the problem is that fuel is usually stored deep enough underground in order to have minimal fluctuations in temperature. This means that no matter what the ambient temperature of the surrounding is, the fuel coming out of the pump will pretty much be the same temperature regardless and hence there is virtually no benefit. So stay in bed and get your sleep because this myth does not work.

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