More car myths busted

Take note of these common car myths before setting off on your next road trip.

In part one, RACQ has broken down some common car myths around premium fuel, changing tyres and if manual cars are more fuel-efficient. This month, they're using their expertise to once again help you determine fact from fiction.

Myth: Some coloured cars are more expensive to insure than others    

False. Vehicle colour is not generally a factor for insurance cover, however, some companies may decline or reduce cover on cars with custom, harlequin or chameleon type paints and vinyl wraps.  

car colours

Myth: Fuel economy is worse when my car's air-conditioning is running              

True. A vehicle will use more fuel when the AC is operating. However, testing has shown at speeds above 80km/h the increase in fuel is offset by the increased drag caused by having the windows down. 

car aircon

Myth: You shouldn’t buy a car during its first year         

False. The premise of this claim is new models are less developed and have more problems than those which have been on sale for a while. This myth may have had some credence in the past but it has since been largely discredited.

car manufacturing

Myth: You’ll stop quicker if you lock the brakes and skid the tyres

False. When this happens, braking efficiency is reduced and there is a high risk of the driver losing control of the vehicle. Anti-lock brakes on most modern cars are also specifically designed reduce brake lock-ups. The only time this myth may be true is if you’re driving on gravel roads at lower speeds. In this case locking the wheels can reduce braking distances as a wedge of gravel can build up in front of the tyre, helping to slow the car. 

car brake

Myth: Dishwashing and laundry detergents are okay to wash the car with              

False. Dishwashing and laundry detergents can damage the vehicle’s paintwork. Detergents often also contain high levels of salt and other chemicals which can contribute to rust.

car wash

Myth: Metallic or faded paint can be easily matched during a crash repair              

False. An experienced painter can usually match faded paint reasonably well, but it may not be easy. Additionally, the new paint will often fade at a different rate to the original and, over time, a noticeable difference in colours may develop.   

car paint

Myth: Using your mobile phone at the petrol pump can cause an explosion          

True. Electromagnetic radiation from a phone is unlikely to ignite fuel vapours but, if you drop your phone (or any electrical item), there is a risk of a spark being produced which could lead to fuel vapours igniting. As unlikely as this may be, service stations take the risk very seriously and apply strict site safety rules.


Myth: Branded petrol stations provide higher quality fuel than unbranded ones     

False. All fuel sold in Australia must meet Australian fuel quality standards. Some brands may achieve a slightly higher standard but the differences aren’t huge. The real differences are in the additive packages used to keep fuel systems clean. Generally, the lower the cost of the fuel, the fewer additives it will have.