As a car owner, we’re sure you receive your fair share of solicited as well as unsolicited car maintenance advice from family and friends. While their heart is in the right place, a lot of these suggestions have emerged from common misconceptions and may not be based on facts. Here are some of the most common myths about car maintenance and tips for you to follow to increase the life of your vehicle and ensure its smooth and safe operation.
Myth 1: I can replace tyres one at a time
It’s true that you should replace tyres based on the condition of the tyre and tread but not all four tyres wear the same. Usually, front tyres which bear the weight of the engine and steer the vehicle, end up wearing more than the rear ones. Since the four tyres wear out differently from each other, it’s recommended that the tyres be inspected & rotated at frequent intervals during your vehicle’s maintenance services. This ensures that all four tyres wear out uniformly. When you replace only one or a pair of tyres at a time, subtle differences in the tread or type may arise. This leads to an unbalanced & unpredictable driving experience as it may affect your vehicle’s performance. Hence, it is advised to perform tyre rotation at regular intervals and change all four/five tyres at the same time.
Myth 2: Using Nitrogen in tyres makes them maintenance-free
Nitrogen is used to fill tyres so there is a slower pressure loss and tyre pressure doesn’t fluctuate with temperature changes. Since the molecules of nitrogen are larger than air molecules, they tend to leak slower through the valve as compared to regular air. While this reduced leakage rate minimises the need for maintenance, it’s still good practice to regularly check and rectify any drop in tyre pressure. It is also important to regularly inspect the tyres for any cracks, bulges, tears or any other visual signs of tyre degradation. If any of these signs are spotted, it should be rectified immediately.
Myth 3: Installing front & rear bumper guards gives extra protection
At first glance, bumper guards may appear to provide added protection. However, this is not always the case. The installation of bumper guards adversely changes the characteristics of the vehicle. Your vehicle is designed to efficiently absorb energy during a collision (crumple zones), in order to keep the passengers safe. Bumper guards could adversely affect these safety measures by diverting impact forces to components that are not designed to absorb impact, leading to an unsafe and unpredictable outcome. It’s also been noticed that these guards interfere with, and in some cases, delay the deployment of airbags. On airbag fitted vehicles, it is important that no bumper guards are fitted.
Myth 4: I can use any grade of lubricants available in aftermarket
Lubricants play a vital role in safe and efficient running of the engine. Over the past decades, we’ve seen significant developments in engine technology, so much so that lubricants play a critical part in the selection of materials and design of the engine components.
Oils today are tailor-made with the requisite additives to meet the requirements specified by the manufacturer based on several criteria, specific to the vehicle. These additives help increase the efficiency and life of the engine. Hence, it’s important to use only the engine oils formulated for and approved by the manufacturers to ensure smooth and safe operation.
Myth 5: I should use an 80-90W bulb instead of a 55-60W bulb in headlight for better visibility on road
While the statement sounds logical, it’s important to know that the use of any bulb more powerful than the 55-60W bulb as headlamps is illegal in India.
The circuitry fitted in your vehicle is designed to efficiently support 55-60W bulbs, as fitted in the factory. Overloading the system with bulbs of higher wattage could damage the internal electronics drastically, leading to overheating, melting of components and in extreme cases, even fires.