True or false? Find out if these auto ‘facts’ are myths or reality

There’s all kinds of automotive information out there that many of us accept as gospel. But it turns out that much of what we think we know isn’t true. Here are some of the most frequently heard automotive myths and their corresponding truths.

1. Myth: It’s more dangerous to drive while talking on a cell phone than driving drunk.

Fact: Actually, this one is true, according to MythBusters on the Discovery Channel. Two of the MythBusters drove through a driving test course that included a brake test, a parallel parking test, a timing trial and an accident-avoidance challenge. After they both passed the control tests sober and cell phone-free, they went through the course talking on the cellphone, and again after drinking enough to have a blood alcohol content almost to the legal limit. Both failed the course while on the cell phone and while drunk. But they failed the cell phone test by a much bigger margin.

2. Myth: If you put sugar in the gas tank, it will ruin the engine.

Fact: Sugar doesn’t dissolve in gas if it’s in solid form, and if it’s in liquid form, it simply doesn’t mix. It just sits at the bottom of the gas tank. If enough is added, it might eventually clog the fuel lines or filters, but blowing out the lines with compressed air would fix the problem.

3. Myth: A potato in the exhaust pipe will stop the engine.

Fact: The exhaust pipe pushes air out, so the potato will just shoot out when the engine is turned on.

4. Myth: You can still drive a long way after the gas gauge is on empty.

Fact: This one is kind of true. You won’t be stuck on the side of the road in the next few minutes, but how long you have varies on the type of vehicle you are driving. A Ford Focus averages 39 miles after hitting “E,” and a Chevy Avalanche averages 45 miles. Check out your ride on Tank on Empty, which has a searchable database.

5. Myth: You should let your engine warm up for a few minutes before driving.

Fact: Modern engines warm up more quickly when they’re driven. The faster that happens, the sooner they reach maximum efficiency—which means the best fuel economy and performance.

6. Myth: If you buy a new car, the warranty requires you to take it to the dealer for maintenance.

Fact: When you buy a new car, it usually comes with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, which covers components like sensors, electrical components and the air conditioning. But those warranties don’t cover regular maintenance (such as oil changes), and things like new tires. You can take your car to Auto Lab Libertyville or another independent mechanic for the routine work, or even do it yourself, without affecting the warranty. Your only obligation is to adhere to the maintenance schedule and to keep records proving that the maintenance has been done.

7. Myth: Driving your pickup truck with the tailgate down gives you better mileage.

Fact: The idea behind this one is that having the tailgate down lets air flow out, reducing drag. According to MythBusters, the mesh in place of the tailgate is the most fuel-efficient option, while no tailgate, the hard-cover top and the tailgate up proved to be about the same in terms of fuel efficiency.

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