Don't believe all the motoring myths you hear

Be it passed-down tales or ill-informed advice, there are a lot of motoring myths floating around. Some of them are true, but a lot of them are false. But rather than letting these myths float around and misinform the public, it's about time we bust some of these wide open.

You probably know some of them already, but the other might surprise you. So, without further delay, let's get cracking, shall we?

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Automatics are less efficient than manuals

If we're talking about cars from the '80 and '90s, this myth can still hold. But thanks to technology, some self-shifters can be more efficient than manual transmissions. These days, you have six-speed automatics, and some even have ten-speed automatics. Remember, the more gears you have, the more the engine can relax and operate efficiently.

Not only that, you have continuously variable transmissions or CVTs. Like them or not, these are the most efficient transmissions around, with infinite ratios that can optimize fuel efficiency. There's also the dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and the primary reason why it was developed is for fuel-efficiency. If we're in the context of modern cars, this myth is busted. Of course, there's nothing we can do about cars with four-speed automatics, but the wonders of modern technology can maximize those transmissions.

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It's okay to coast in neutral when going downhill to save fuel

Fuel is expensive these days, and we want to make the most out of every drop. But that doesn't mean you should resort to unsafe driving practices to save a few drops of gas. Some still believe that putting your car in neutral while coasting downhill can save fuel.

Theoretically, you can, particularly on older vehicles. But advances in engine technologies eliminate the need for that. Even a fuel-injected car from the '90s can manage without knocking it into neutral. But the reason why it's unsafe is this: you won't be able to control your car in an emergency. Because there is no drive being sent to the wheels, you won't be able to power out of a hazard. At the same time, putting a car in drive all of a sudden can damage the transmission. Simply put, it's not worth continuing that unsafe practice.

The safer way to do it is by shifting to a lower gear or putting the car in low when heading downhill. It also prevents the brakes from overheating and long-term damage. Remember, do not ride your brakes going downhill. 

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You can put regular ATF in a CVT or DCT-equipped car

Back then, transmission choices were simple. It's either you had a manual or an automatic. These days, you have dual-clutch transmissions, automated gear shifts, and continuously variable transmissions. Yes, they're all technically automatic, but there are different ways of maintaining them. That means you can't use automatic transmission fluid (ATF) for all of them.

A CVT requires CVT Fluid because it doesn't use gears in the first place. It requires a specially formulated oil to keep it lubricated. Use ATF in a CVT, and you're bound to wreck the transmission in no time. The same goes for a dual-clutch and automated gear transmission. Those need manufacturer-specific clutch fluid and not ATF. If a mechanic says they're all the same, perhaps it's time to find a new one. If it breaks down, don't blame the car for being unreliable if the wrong fluid was used in the first place. If you're unsure about your car's transmission, consult your owner's manual.

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Low mileage is always a good thing

When you're looking around online classified ads, one of the key selling points some point out is the mileage. While a low mileage car is good, there's the question of usage. This is why low mileage isn't always a good thing. Here's a practical example.

A five-year-old car with just 9,000 kilometers sounds like a good deal, but it might not have had an oil change for about four years. By that time, the oil's gone gunky, and cars don't like running on stale fluids. With that, a used car that's done a lot more kilometers but maintained meticulously from day one is a better choice. Yes, even if it's done five times more than the first example. Of course, we're not telling you to buy something with intergalactic mileage, but a hi-miler that's properly looked after is better than a low-miler with deferred maintenance. Maintenance records, and not mileage, is more important when looking at a second-hand car.

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Swerving will confuse the speed camera

Say you're going 140 km/h in a 100 km/h zone when, suddenly, you see a speed camera. It's too late to shave off all that speed, and you don't want to get a ticket for speeding. Some suggest swerving at the last minute can confuse the camera, meaning you won't get tagged.

Not only is that myth false, but it's also downright dangerous. A speed camera has a wide view of the road, so no matter which lane you're in, you will get snapped. Also, swerving at high speeds can lead to a loss of control, and no, don't use stability control as an excuse to justify it. You may be able to get away with it unscathed, but those behind you can panic and cause a chain reaction. If you're caught speeding on the expressway, the only option you have is to swallow the bitter pill and pay the fine. The lesson here is simple: stick to the speed limit, even if you find it too slow. Besides, you might get a ticket for reckless driving if you swerve in front of a camera.

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Stay informed

There are a lot more motoring myths that need busting. But these five myths are a good start to educate more motorists. Also, these busted myths serve as tips for smarter car-buying, safer driving, and better maintenance. So not only will you be a better driver, but you'll also be a better owner. Remember, if it sounds too ridiculous, then chances are it's probably not true.