Debunking the Myths
Myth 1: The Trouble Codes will Tell You what Sensor to Replace.
The Check Engine Light directs your attention to a problem. A trouble code description then directs you to a circuit or system. It will not tell you what sensor to replace. The automaker designed the system to be vague for a reason, so that you would have to return your car to the dealership to have the Check Engine Light problem repaired. That is why there are flow charts and diagrams to guide a mechanic through specific tests to determine the exact problem. Often it is a broken wire, loose connector or something besides the sensor itself.
Myth 2: The Check Engine Light Means an Oxygen Sensor is Bad.
First, you will not know what the problem is until you know the specific trouble codes. Even if it is an Oxygen Sensor Code, most of time there are other causes for the code to appear. Vacuum leaks, poor fuel quality, low or high fuel pressure, an engine compression problem or a plugged catalytic converter could cause an Oxygen Sensor Code. Usually when an Oxygen Sensor fails, it's because it's become contaminated by an engine that is not running properly. Therefore, you will still need to determine where the originating problem came from.
Myth 3: Installing Oxygen Sensors will Give You Better Gas Mileage.
This myth is true. When you replace a faulty oxygen sensor, your gas mileage will increase. However, there are auto parts stores and garages that want to increase their profits by lying to the public. There is no reason to replace your oxygen sensors every 30,000 or even 100,000 miles. If the part has not failed, replacing it will not help your gas mileage.
Myth 4: Always Balance Your Tires Every 6,000 to 9,000 Miles or Every Other Oil Change.
A young woman was told that she should always get her tires balanced every 6,000 miles. Your tires only need balancing when they are out of balance. How will you know if your tires are out of balance? If you are driving at 50-65 mph and your vehicle is shaking very hard, your tires need to be balanced.
Myth 5: All Transmission Fluids are the Same:
Not all transmission fluids are the same. This mistake could cost you a lot of money in replacing your transmission. For example, these are a few vehicles that require different transmission fluid requirements:
- Chrysler-built vehicles since the 2000 year model require ONLY ATF+4
- Kia requires Diamond ATF SP-III or ATF SP-III
- Newer Toyota/Lexus require Toyota Genuine ATF-WS
- Some Saabs require SAAB 3309
- New body style Nissan Maxima Matic-k
- New Jaguars require JAG SHELL M1375.4
Hopefully this list has given you a better understanding of how transmission fluid is different for every automaker. Obviously, more vehicles than those that were listed require special transmission fluid. Before you add any fluid to your transmission, please refer to your owner’s manual on what type of fluid to add. Adding the wrong fluid will cause damage to your transmission.
Myth 6: People at Auto Parts Store are Knowledgeable about Auto Repairs.
Do not take the advice of an auto parts store employee! One of our clients was told that her Jaguar need an alternator, so she purchased it and had it installed. Unfortunately, that $400 alternator did not remedy her vehicle’s problem. Long story short, a technician found that there was a bad wire causing the alternator not to work. Usually when people are sick they go to the doctor to get better, not the pharmacist. Like doctors, technicians diagnose problems, not parts store clerks.
Myth 7: I Don’t Like this Car! Tomorrow I’ll Go Back to the Dealer & Get My Money Back!
3 Day "Buyers Remorse" Rule
Many people foolishly shop, thinking they can just return it if they don’t like the car. You should be certain you are ready for a deal before you sign, not three days after you sign. You should expect to return a car that you just purchased only if a return policy is advertised.
Myth 8: This “Oil Leak Stopper” Fluid will Stop My Oil Leak.
Think about it: How can oil stop an oil leak? Answer: It can’t! All you are buying is oil with a thicker viscosity. The only thing that can stop your oil leak is for you to replace the worn seal or gasket. The same rule applies to engine smoke. Multiple things can cause your vehicle to use excessive oil and/or release smoke out of the tail pipe. More than likely, the cure will involve internal engine repair. Please do not fall for the “oil leak stopper” scam.
Myth 9: Always Add or “Top-Off” Brake Fluid Reservoirs When You Get an Oil Change.
Brake fluid level should be checked frequently, around every 3,000 miles. The proper level should be between the minimum and maximum level indicated on the reservoir. If the fluid level has fallen, it means there‘s an issue with the brake system. One of two things could be wrong with the system: either the brakes are worn down or there is a brake fluid leak. Either way the lowered brake fluid level should be an indicator to the technician that the brakes need to be inspected.
The technician will not know there is a brake issue if the brake fluid reservoir is filled at every oil change. The problem is as the brakes get used, the fluid gets hotter, expands, and pressure increases. The extra fluid has no place to go and the increased pressure can cause the brakes to “self-apply,” shortening the life of the brakes and decreasing fuel mileage.
Myth 10: You Should Check to See if You have Water in Your Battery.
This is only recommended if you like acid splashing on your clothes, and possibly your face. Checking the level of water in your battery is obsolete and no longer recommended. If you have problems with your battery, either charge the battery or replace it.
Myth 11: You Should Replace Your Shocks and Struts around 80,000 Miles.
Do not let tire and battery garages talk you into replacing your shocks and struts every 80,000 miles. This scam is a big money maker for them. You only need to replace shocks and struts when they are worn. When this happens, they make noise, or it will feel like a roller coaster when you go over bumps.