Car myths busted

Don’t fall for these common car myths before setting off on your next road trip.

While some may have more mechanical knowledge than others, most only know a few of the basics.

To help arm you with extra knowledge and determine fact from fiction, RACQ has busted some common car myths.

Myth: Using premium fuel will make my car perform better 

For vehicles where the manufacturer specifies the car requires premium fuel, you must use it. For those that aren’t specified, you’ll find some vehicles will perform better on premium fuel while others will show no obvious improved performance. The best advice we can offer is to use the fuel recommended by the car’s manufacturer. If you want to use a higher grade of fuel than specified, you’ll need to test the theory and decide if any performance gain is worth the heightened cost of the premium fuel.

Myth: When getting new tyres, I need to replace them all at the same time

Some manufacturers recommend that only full sets of matching tyres be fitted on all-wheel-drive vehicles which are sensitive to variations in tyre diameter. If this is the case, it will be mentioned in the owner's manual. For other cars, we recommend replacing tyres as a matched pair on the same axle, if only two tyres need replacing. We would also recommend matching the tyres to those already on the car, if possible, to reduce the risk of introducing odd handling characteristics. 

racq tyres

Myth: Manual transmission cars are more fuel-efficient than automatics

False. This used to be the case, but modern automatics have narrowed the gap significantly, and there is not much of a difference for most modern cars. In some instances, autos may even be slightly more efficient.

Manual Gearstick

Myth: You must get your car serviced by the dealership to keep your warranty valid

False. Provided you service the vehicle per the manufacturer’s service schedule and use quality parts your warranty won’t be affected. However, the manufacturer may refuse any out-of-warranty or goodwill assistance if you don’t support the dealer network. While this applies to servicing, warranty repairs must still be performed by a dealer.

Myth: In a lightning storm, the safest place to be is in your car because it has rubber tyres

True, but not because of the rubber tyres. In effect, your car becomes a Faraday cage (an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields) which will protect the occupants from the lightning. It’s important not to be touching any metal parts of the car though.


Myth: I can top up my radiator with water

False. When topping up the cooling system, we suggest a premixed coolant recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Tap water contains minerals that can build up in the cooling system and cause problems. Besides, topping up with water-only dilutes the coolant concentration and reduces corrosion protection.

Filling radiator