15 Lies You've Been Told About Cars

Growing up, we're sponges for information. We absorb and soak up everything we see and are told, until inevitably, someone wrings us out to dry. This is especially true for the automotive industry. Things have changed drastically over the past few years, and suffice to say, there's a lot of misinformation circulating around that many people still believe.

Prepare to be wrung out.

1. SUVs are safer than cars

SUVs are technically trucks in the eyes of the law, and thus don’t need to meet quite the same safety standards as cars. And while there's some truth to the notion that a vehicle with more mass is somewhat safer in a collision with a lighter vehicle, that won't hold true for a heavy vehicle that’s been engineered to meet a lower safety standard.

Interestingly, there's a correlation between expensive cars and safety, because part of what you pay for is safety R&D and more luxury items packed into the car, which adds to the mass that will help you in a collision.

2. Your engine is stronger than your brakes

This is why so many people believed the runaway Prius hoax. Assuming your brakes are in decent condition, they are much, much stronger than your engine, regardless of what car you have. Most cars today cut the throttle completely if you step hard on both pedals, but even if they didn’t, you’d be able to stop your car while mashing the pedal, even in something like a Hellcat.

3. You can’t put film on your windshield

This is a matter of semantics. Tinting the entirety of your windshield is illegal, but it is perfectly fine in most states to put a clear, UV-blocking film on your windshield. It’s technically not “tint” because it’s clear, but it’s generally made, sold, and installed by the same people.

4. The bigger the engine, the safer the car

This one dates back at least as far as the 1950s (if not further), and it's as wrong as the SUV notion. It’s a great lie if you’re trying to convince someone you really *need* that V8. Ultimately, though, the engine is a big lump of metal that can just as easily get pushed back in a serious frontal collision as a smaller engine.

5. Leather is better than cloth

To be precise, there are nine reasons this one isn’t true.

6. All gas is the same

This one’s a half-truth. The basic gasoline component is the same, and even comes from the same pipelines, but each company uses its own proprietary detergents, and in varying quantities, so the actual stuff you pump into your car does in fact vary from one brand to the next.

7. It’s fine to get back in your car while refueling

Have you ever reached for your car's door handle and felt a static electric shock? Now imagine that same shock surrounded by highly flammable gas fumes while you're refueling. Are you terribly likely to blow sky high? Nope. Do you get a do-over if you do? Also, nope. Somehow, people do this all the time.

8. Convertibles are less safe than cars with tops

This was true in the 1960s. It’s not always the case today. Is a brand new convertible less safe in a front end, or rear end collision than its non-convertible counterpart? Nope. In a side collision, it’s still safe, though you do have a little less structural support up high. Even in a rollover accident, popup rollbars shoot up to keep your head from hitting the ground.

The lack of safety in convertibles is such a widely held belief that some groups take it irrationally far. For example, allowing vintage hard tops with no additional safety features on a race track, while barring even the newest and safest convertibles. Which would you prefer to be in in a crash: something from the 1970s that defined safety as a padded dashboard and a seatbelt, or something that’s brand new with more safety systems than you can imagine? Thought so.

9. Raising the speed limit results in more accidents

Even the most economically-minded cars sold in the U.S. today are perfectly capable of driving at 90 mph all day long with zero issues whatsoever. Data has shown quite conclusively that a higher speed limit—or no speed limit—doesn’t have a correlation to people driving faster, because most drivers drive as fast as they're comfortable, whether that's above or below the limit. Consequently, they don't crash with greater frequency when the speed limit changes.

10. All-wheel drive is necessary in snow

Everyone always thinks you can’t survive the kind of winter that involves tons of snow if you don’t have all-wheel drive. The truth is that all-wheel drive can help you accelerate, and, if you know what you’re doing, can help you maintain control through a turn in a low grip situation. It unequivocally cannot help you stop, though. You need winter tires more than you need all-wheel drive.

11. Trucks are better in the snow

The majority of trucks today are still rear-wheel drive, and there's very little weight in a pickup truck over the rear wheels. Translation: it has very little traction, and you have very little control of the rear end.

12. You don’t have to inflate a run-flat tire

It’s called a run-flat, so you don’t have to inflate it if it loses pressure, right? Nope. The sidewall is extra rigid, so you don’t have a flat in the sense of a thud thud thud sound, but that's a design feature meant to keep you safe so you can slowly (under 50 mph) get yourself to the nearest place to swap it out. If you’ve ever known someone that thought their tire was fine just because it didn’t look flat, it’s your ethical obligation to shame them so they’ll never do that again. Think of the children!

13. Bigger tires are always better

Better for what, exactly? In rain or snow, a narrower tire is generally the better option. In terms of outright performance in ideal conditions, wider tires offer more potential, but a car needs to be able to take advantage of that, using all of the tires in unison, or else much of that potential is simply wasted.

14. Your car will never be the same after an accident

A high quality repair shop is extremely precise. Will there be differences between a repaired car and a non-repaired car? Yes, but you’re talking about things like a difference in the thickness of paint that’s measured in microns. If a repair job is done right, more than 99 percent of the population will never be able to tell.

15. Souping up your car will void the factory warranty

This one all depends on what you do to your car. Warranties are governed by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and you have the right to change parts on your car without voiding the entire warranty. There is a catch, of course: if the part you changed causes a failure, that specific failure won’t be covered. The rest of the car? Still good to go.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He was very annoyed when people believed the Prius hoax.

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