The Car Myths Quiz

Kevin Fritz

You are visiting a dealership to buy a new car. What should you do with your trade-in?

Don’t buy into the myth that hiding your trade-in will get you a better deal. Know what your car is worth before heading to the lot. If you don't like the offer from the dealership, don't take it.

Legend has it the best day to buy a new car is a rainy day. True or false?

The myth that a rainy day is the best day to buy a car could not be further from the truth. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are better bets because crowds are sparse and salespeople are more apt to make deals.

What is NOT considered dangerous behavoir at the gas pump?

Contrary to modern thinking, there is no evidence that using your cell phone while pumping gas will cause an explosion. However, smoking or leaving the car running could lead to fire, and an unattended gas pump may fall from the tank, spewing gas and causing danger for everyone.

Does air conditioning burn gas quicker?

While this may be a truism, it is of little or no concern. Consumer Reports found that fuel efficiency decreased by one to four miles per gallon using the air conditioner. By the way, rolling down the windows does not affect fuel economy.

What color of car is pulled over more often for speeding?

This myth has been around since sleek, red sports cars appeared on our roads. However, there is no evidence that any color of car is pulled over more often than any other for speeding.

What is the best month to buy a car?

The notion that January is a wonderful month to buy a car because many people are done with shopping may hold some water, but it is the last quarter of the year when the best deals are offered. If you wait until December, you are more likely to save money.

What is the best way to get a good price on a car today?

The myth that the “manager” will get you the best deal is outdated. The beauty of today's technology is that you can choose a car and receive a price online without leaving your home. Then you bring your checkbook to the dealer, and the car is waiting for you to drive away. Voila!

If salespeople still have quotas to meet, what day of the month can you get the best deal on a new car?

As the trend toward no pressure sales increases at dealerships, there is some confusion about whether salespeople still have quotas to meet. Many salespeople still work off of monthly quotas and may offer better discounts before the month ends.

What is the best strategy to get a good price on a car?

The key to getting a good price on a new car used to be by entering the dealership with a plan of not backing down until your price is granted. That’s old hat. Conduct your own online inventory research on the specific car you wish to buy. Then call the internet manager, whose job it is to quote you a price over the phone.

Is it OK to drive 5-10 mph over the posted speed limit?

This is a very common misconception that may get you in trouble. Speeding is speeding. No matter how little you are driving over the speed limit, you can be pulled over and ticketed.

When have you heard is the best time to begin negotiations when buying a new car?

People used to think they should wait until receiving an offer from the salesman before negotiations. A much better strategy is to know the range of prices your car is being sold for at various dealerships, so you have a starting point before entering the showroom.

There is a myth concerning when you should reveal that you would rather lease than buy. What is that myth?

A fear of misunderstanding leases led to this myth. Buyers feared it would cost them too much in the end, so they believed receiving an offer before the reveal made more sense. Today's leases, however, are usually better deals when you're upfront than when you wait to negotiate.

The most important thing to keep in mind when financing your new or used car is your monthly payment. True or false?

Focusing on a low monthly payment is a bad strategy. You may end up paying way too much for the car in the long run. Pay what you can afford. The rule of thumb is a monthly payment that is equal to or less than 10 percent of your gross monthly income.

Is it true that you should be demanding when dealing with car salesmen?

In the past, cars salespeople enjoyed the haggling process and standing their ground, causing buyers to be on guard and more demanding in their actions. Today, car salespeople are people just like you and me. Don't be demanding. Yes, be polite, but not a pushover. Arrive prepared to negotiate.

If the dealership from which you bought your car does not conduct the vehicle's maintenance, does that void the warranty?

In reality, you or a reputable mechanic can service your car per the owner's manual without the hassle of going to a dealership. However, to avoid voiding your warranty, detailed records must be kept to prove your case. A reputable mechanic is your best bet.

The car's tires should be inflated to the PSI number found on the tire's sidewall. Yes or no?

The wording on the tire—inflate to 50 psi for example—is the maximum pressure for that tire, not necessarily the best pressure for your car. Dealers provide a sticker on the driver's side door jam or inside the gas flap with the recommended pressure.

Do you have to change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles?

Cars do not need an oil change every 3,000 miles. This is not as much a myth as it is obsolete advice. If you own a newer car, the internal system will alert you when it is time to change the oil. New models can be driven 10,000 miles or more before requiring an oil change.

Which change of seasons should you have your car prepared for by your mechanic?

This used to be a standard operating procedure, but not anymore. Beyond perhaps changing the snow tires in the winter, newer cars shouldn’t need the coolant flushed, or air conditioning charged just because the season is changing. Maintain your car per your owner's manual, and you should be fine.

In the winter, how long should you warm the engine of your car before driving?

If you have an old car, this may help, but today's models will warm up as you drive. Get in and get going. Warming the engine is not only unnecessary, but wasteful as well.

Is testing the tread on your tires with a penny a myth?

The old custom of placing a penny in the tread to see if Lincoln's head is exposed can still be used, but that usually leaves you with a tread depth of 2/32 of an inch, which is an accident waiting to happen. It's better to change your tires when the tread is at 4/32 of an inch.

Can you use regular gas in any car?

Refer to your owner's manual, although many cars run fine on regular old gas - 87 octane. However, most sophisticated cars may need a higher octane to avoid ignition issues.

What time of day is best to fill your gas tank?

Gasoline expands from heat, so some people believe that a car receives less gas when the heat of the day has warmed the fuel. In reality, gas is stored underground to avoid changes in temperature.

Is it true dirty cars get better gas mileage than clean cars?

Some drivers think that added particles on a car will reduce wind resistance. In fact, cleaner cars get 10 percent better gas mileage than dirty ones.

How often should you drain your transmission fluid?

In the past, 50,000 miles was a benchmark to drain transmission fluid. Today's cars use a long-lasting formula that should last for at least 100,000 miles or for the life of the vehicle.

What is NOT a key to better gas mileage?

Cruising at slower speeds and around-the-town driving produce less efficient miles per gallon. Maintaining your car properly and not carrying extra weight in the trunk helps to give you better gas mileage.

At what speed do you think your car is most fuel efficient?

Most cars reach optimum gas mileage between 50 and 60 mph. That's the range in which cars are tested by the government to determine gas mileage ratings, so manufacturers work toward reaching the best gas mileage in that range.

When does your car give you the worse gas mileage?

If you are sitting in your car and the engine is running, you are getting zero miles to the gallon. You can't get much worse than that.

Mechanics love to work on certain vehicles and others, not so much. Which of these do mechanics say are the easiest to maintain?

While some people may think a truck is more complicated to work on, the fact that this Silverado had plenty of room under the hood and straightforward technology made it number one by mechanics in a recent U.S. News survey.

Which of these vehicles is considered one of the most reliable cars on the road?

This survey by Forbes conducted two years ago shows that it’s not always the newest cars on the block that are the most reliable. The order in which you see them is the order they placed in the survey, so you probably can't go wrong with one of the Toyotas either.

What is the best way to make a phone call while driving?

Studies show talking on the phone, hands-free or not, distracts the driver. Distracted driving is now a major issue confronting car insurers. Wait or pull over to talk.

What type of oil should you use in your car?

Synthetic oil will help your car perform better. In older cars, it may cause an oil leak, but that's because since it does such a good job cleaning your engine, flaws are exposed leading to oil drips.

Of these choices, which electric car has the longest reported range?

All of these vehicles offer a range of more than 100 miles, but the Tesla beats them all, topping out at over 300 miles per charge. Electric cars have come a long way, and you should not be afraid of limited ranges.

Isn't it a hassle to own an electric car?

Electric cars may cost more to buy, but are virtually maintenance free. Plus, batteries and charging station access have improved, so in the long run, an electric car is a good, hassle-free investment.

When is mass production of electric cars expected to occur?

The New York Times reports that at the rate prices are falling, along with stricter emission laws on the books, electric cars will hit the mainstream between 2025 and 2030. Once sticker shock disappears, everyone will be on the bandwagon.

How much can you save in dollars with an electric car vs. a gas-powered car?

The EPA estimates with some of the newer models, such as the Nissan Leaf, consumers will save $4,000 over a five-year span. Overall, electricity is 50 percent cheaper than gas.

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About This Quiz

As long as there have been automobiles, there have been car salesmen and mechanics. The automobile industry has always been a unique entity where haggling for a better price for your new car is expected. In fact, it has become a game for some people. Some folks love to haggle, while others can't stand the thought of dickering, which is why a number of dealerships have gone to selling cars at a fixed price. 

Car buying is indeed an oddity in the consumer-retail world. Where else are you allowed or expected to question the price of a product and offer a lower price? Would that work at the supermarket? At a bar or restaurant? Of course not. The only transaction that comes close is home buying, although that is a much more complicated matter with an array of moving parts affecting the price. 

Having your car maintained can also be tricky. When should you change your oil? What tire pressure symbol can you trust? Plus there are plenty of misconceptions about our driving habits, as well as the realities of owning electric cars that need to be dispelled.

The only way to win at this roulette wheel of our automobile love affair is through knowledge. The better prepared you are, the better off your experience will be as a car owner. Ready to become a wise car guru? Let's go!

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