Motor vehicle myth busters every woman should know

August 2014

As we celebrate women this month, Les Mc Master, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), shares some important myth busters every woman should be aware of.

Storage Compartment: It’s a car… not an extension of the wardrobe!

The more weight you’re carrying around, the more fuel you’re using, and therefore, the more it’s going to cost you! Assign one day a week to empty out the contents of your car. Just think, with what you save on wasted petrol you could end up with enough for a whole new wardrobe!

Checking your oil and water levels is definitely one thing that you should not put off!

Basically, if your car runs out of oil, the engine will have no lubrication, seize up and die, leaving you with a car that doesn’t work and a hefty mechanic’s bill. Checking your oil once a month can prevent this. Make sure your car has been stopped for five minutes or so (the engine turned off!), open the bonnet, pull out the dipstick from the engine then wipe and replace it, before pulling it out again – the oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks. If it’s not, then it’s time to top up.

Having your air-con on uses more fuel than opening the window

Ever heard the common myth that having your air-con turned on uses more fuel than opening the window? At most speeds, if the car window is open, the coefficient drag is enough to make your car work harder thus using more fuel. In fact, it uses about the same amount of fuel as having your air-con turned on.

Seat upright close to steering wheel position

Sitting in an upright position close to the steering wheel is not a wise position as it inhibits the amount of movement that is required to safely manage the controls. Female drivers are prone to adopting this position as they need to see the nose of the vehicle for accurate measurement of distances. Adopt a more reclined position with your arms at a comfortable “v’” shape i.e. slightly extended and not an “L” shape with your elbows tucked up against your sides.

Changing Tyres or getting a flat

Putting the gear lever into “park” won’t stop the vehicle from moving and falling off the jack, once lifted. If you have passengers onboard, have them get out, and apply the handbrake as tight as it will go. Switch the engine off. Open the boot and ensure that the spare wheel is at hand before undoing the wheel, as I’ve seen many a rear end of a vehicle in the air with wheels off and the driver unable to get to the spare wheel in the boot. The biscuit wheel is an emergency wheel and cannot be used indefinitely. Have the flat repaired immediately.

Testing the fuel gauge

This may sound a little bit silly but the ‘E’ on your petrol gauge does not stand for ‘enough’! If you’re running on reserve find the nearest petrol station and top up. Not only is it dangerous if you get caught out without fuel, it’s not good for your engine either.

Stockings do NOT make a good replacement for a fan belt

Unless you’re driving a 1969 Ford Escort, stockings do NOT make a good replacement for a fan belt. Modern motor vehicles have a serpentine belt which drives all the moving components attached to the engine and pantyhose stockings will not be able to drive these components. Make time to understand how the serpentine belt works.

Clutch riding

Keeping your foot on the clutch while driving will not help you change gears more smoothly. Rather the thrust bearing is being overworked by constant pressure from the fingers of the pressure plate which will ruin the thrust bearing and cause premature clutch failure.

“Remember to regularly get your vehicle serviced. It’s far more cost effective and less dangerous to maintain your vehicle rather than waiting for a part to break and then replacing it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your vehicle and what is being done during a service and always use a reputable workshop,” advises Mc Master.