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Maintenance Myths

Don’t waste money on outdated advice

Implementing small changes, drivers could save up to $838 a year or $10,056 in the lifetime of their vehicle. In any economy, every penny counts. That’s why it’s important to get the facts.

  1. Maintenance Schedule
  2. Warming up your vehicle
  3. Premium gas
  4. Tire inflation
  5. Getting gas in the morning
2020 Ford Escape

Debunking a few of the most popular maintenance myths, including the following:

MYTH: Cars need oil changes every three months or 5,000 kilometers.
False: That used to be true, but not with newer cars. Because of synthetic oils that don’t break down as quickly, consumers actually don’t need oil changes as often – more like every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers. (There may be two recommendations for oil-change intervals: one for normal driving and one for hard use. Check your maintenance guide to be sure.)

SAVE: Either way, there’s a considerable savings here: Let’s say you’re an average consumer who drives 20,000 kilometers a year, which means you would need about four oil changes a year under the old formula. With the new extended mileage, consumers need only about two oil changes a year, cutting their bill for oil changes in half – you could pocket upward of $200 a year or $2,400 in the lifetime of your vehicle and do something to help the environment by saving oil.

MYTH: You need to let your vehicle engine warm up in cold weather.
False: Your vehicle’s engine only needs a warm-up period of about 10 seconds – you’re actually the only one who may feel chilly. The engine warms up while you drive. Running your car any longer beforehand is necessary to get the interior climate up to or down to temperature.

SAVE: Depending on engine size, temperature and other variables, modern cars can use about a a litre of gas per hour while idling. By giving up that 10-minute idle every weekday morning, you could save more than a four litres a month – $100 a year or $2,400 over the life of the vehicle.

MYTH: Premium gas is a treat for your car.
False: Unless your vehicle is specifically tailored to take advantage of the higher octane level in the fuel, you’re wasting your money. Go by what is recommended in your owner’s manual and leave it at that.

SAVE: At current gas prices, drivers may save a couple hundred dollars a year by opting not filling up with premium fuel.

MYTH: The number listed on the sidewall of your tire is the recommended tire pressure.
False: In most cases, this is actually the maximum pressure allowed for that tire. The recommended amount of pressure is usually listed on the inside door panel – check your owner’s manual to be sure.

SAVE: The government estimates that the average driver’s tires are underinflated by 26%. Generally, underinflated treads lower gas mileage about a half percent for each pound lacking when the pressure of all four tires is added up. An average driver with underinflated tires could add $179 a year to his or her fuel bill – or more than $2,148 in the lifetime of the vehicle. You could also save nearly half a barrel of crude oil per year by keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level. Per Wikipedia, one barrel of crude oil equals 160 litres of gasoline. More tire safety here.

MYTH: Buy gas in the morning and you’ll save money.
False: The old adage was to fill up in the morning when gas was coolest and most dense because gas is sold by volume and you would get more gas for your buck.
But gas is sold in underground, nonmetallic tanks that typically hold about 10,000 gallons, and it will take a lot of sunlight to raise the temperature even a degree. (However, pumping your gas when it’s cooler does mean less release of vapors, which is better for the environment.)

SAVE: Do your research before buying. FordPass can help you find gas stations, but websites like can also help drivers navigate to bargains. If you know before you go and fill up for less every time, it could result in $300 in your pocket annually, or $3,600 saved over the lifetime of your car.

Editor’s note: All savings estimates are calculated based on the EPA estimates for a 2021 Ford Escape AWD, which achieves 43 mpg highway and 37 mpg city. The EPA estimates that annual fuel costs are $2,010.