The dumbest car myths, from reversing on a cold engine to switching fuel brands

Gas storage containers at a closed Shell gas station in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2003.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg (Getty Images)

A high performance 4-barrel carburetor.

Photo: Rich Niewiroski Jr. / Wikimedia Commons

Everyone has probably heard some variation of the unknown scientist, who in the mid-20th century, invented a magic carburetor which allowed vehicles to get 100+ MPG but was either silenced or murdered through some shadowy plot carried out by the big oil and automotive companies.

Submitted by: Hankel_Wankel

1999 GMC Sierra 2500 photographed in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Photo: SsmIntrigue / Wikimedia Commons

Porsche 911 Spotted at Beaulieu in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

Photo: Carfanatic2019 / Wikimedia Commons

“The +2 seats are to bring down insurance rates.”

Nonsense. Never sourced. Insurance companies are in the business of knowing exactly what does and does not make them money, and they’ve had bunches of data with which to do that for a very long time.

The +2 seats are so that you can tell your new spouse “See, honey, the 911 is really a family car.”

Submitted by: DGUTS

The small (sub-compact sized) Metropolitan was marketed by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1954 to 1961.

Photo: CZmarlin / Wikimedia Commons

This is no longer as prevalent as it once was, but I used to hear people say they wouldn’t wear their seatbelt because it could trap them in case of a crash and they’d be safer without it.

Submitted by: RSA

 Shell gas station, Third and Western, Los Angeles

Photo: Downtowngal / Wikimedia Commons

I’m not sure how myth-worthy this is, but I always get gas as the same company. My dad was a mechanic in the 70s and 80s and told me that different companies had different fuel refining processes, and despite the octane, a car would respond differently.

While I don’t doubt that there may be some kernel of truth to that, I do not believe it’s the case anymore. That said, I stick to a single brand as much as I can.

Submitted by: Jerk Gently, Hole-istic Detective

1996 Blue Bird conventional school bus on an International 3800 chassis in Vista, California

Photo: XtraJovial / Wikimedia Commons

It’s illegal to drive barefoot. Heard that in the ‘80s and every now and then since.

Submitted by: endosymbiont

Knew a guy who got fired from his school bus gig for driving barefoot, he wore Birkenstocks year round in northern Alberta. The school board fired him and he took them to court, was over pretty quick, he just took the money as he really didn’t like driving.

Submitted by: sklooner

A modified black Ford F-450

Photo: Charles & Hudson / Wikimedia Commons

Big truck = Small Penis.

Multitude of reasons here, first, it’s such a lazy and unoriginal thing, it’s low brow, it’s mean-spirited as it gets, commenting on someone’s private parts, being a generalization and judgment in the first place, it’s forced mention of someone else’s private parts, and didn’t we decide a while back that body-shaming is generally shitty behavior?

I get it, free speech and all, but if someone sees a guy driving a big truck and their first reaction is to offer up a comment on the size of a guy’s genitalia, my first reaction is that they are just a fragile, spiteful person.

Submitted by: R4ndyD4ndy

Nissan LEAF charging at the Freedom Station in Houston, TX. This is an eVgo Network station with both Level 2 and DC fast chargers.

Photo: eVgo Network

Aside from what was already mentioned, I’m gonna mention a couple of extra dumb myths repeated by the anti-BEV crowd (likely oil industry shills much of the time)

-That electric vehicles are less ‘green’ than ICE vehicles because of power plant emissions… which was bullshit from day 1. Even in a situation where all power being generated by coal, BEVs are still more efficient on an end-to-end basis. And with coal making less and less of the electricity generation mix, BEVs continue to get better in terms of pollution and emissions… with their owners having to do nothing.

-Electric cars are worse for the environment because of battery manufacturing. This one has always been bullshit as well. It takes emissions to build any vehicle.. BEV or otherwise. The difference is the emissions caused by all the extra consumables ICE vehicles will use over their life. And because of this, a BEV will produce far less emissions compared to an ICE vehicle on a cradle-to-grave basis.

Submitted by: Manwich – now Keto-Friendly

Image of a car driving on Lower Broadway covered in snow after a snow storm on January 15, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photo: Vanderbilt University/University Images

You have to warm up your car before driving

Nope, not unless you have a really old car, this one has just stuck around. Yes, you should let it warm up before you drive it hard so just get in and drive and that will warm it up, then you can send it

Submitted by: WayDude

Right, keep the revs on the lower side to allow for everything to come up to temp. Perhaps “don’t beat on a cold engine” would be a more useful example.

Submitted by: TheSchrat

The engine bay of a modified turbo Honda prelude with an f20b

Photo: Natelee2003 / Wikimedia Commons

Engine braking causes engine wear.

Yeah, that came from a driver of 40 years accustomed to driving up and down mountain roads. Where its engine brake or else brake fade and certain death down 300+ corners on dual carriageways.

I had my doubts about the man who taught me false facts throughout my formative years, called me stupid and slow in public, and eventually abandoned the family to remarry. Good riddance.

Submitted by: Kali Sharma

Used cars are offered for sale at a dealership on July 11, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

“Don’t tell your salesperson you have a trade until you agree on numbers for the new car.” After 13 years of selling cars, I can tell you this is a myth. All it does is slow down the deal. Bottom line, your car is worth what it is worth.

Submitted by: LAYDOWN

Overhead view of one of the worse parking lots in Los Angeles at Trader Joes in Pasadena Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.

Photo: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times (Getty Images)

Someone told my wife when she was young that backing up your car right after you turn it on (like getting out of a parking space) damages the engine. She will go to almost any length to back into every parking space so she can start her drive going forward. Nothing I say can dissuade her from believing that car manufacturers can’t account for this extremely common circumstance in driving.

Submitted by: Kolgrim

Leather wrapped 6-speed manual transmission gear shifter on the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata Retractable Fastback edition is seen on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

Photo: Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald (Getty Images)

Manual cars are safer.

Anyone that drove a manual in a non-occasional way knows this is not true. I’ve owned manual vehicles from 1996 to 2021, then finally made the move to an automatic. There’s absolutely nothing I can do with automatic that I was not able to do with a manual. That includes fiddling with my phone, drinking a Chai latte or even driving with a broken left arm.

No, I do not get bored more with the automatic that with a manual. When you drive a car with a manual everyday it’s not long that you completely stop thinking about it, it becomes an automatism.

Submitted by: Margin Of Error

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