Myths start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the vehicles of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.
Let’s examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.
The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.
The truth on which the myth is based is that most cars come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on some cars. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.
Another common rant is that modern cars don’t need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a tune-up, which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. You’d manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.
This definition just doesn’t apply to modern vehicles. Service centers generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 50,000 miles or so.
Of course, you can’t lubricate a sealed joint, or adjust a carburetor if your car doesn’t have one. You don’t need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 50,000 miles. What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?
The danger with these modern-day myths, is that they prevent people from taking care of the routine preventive maintenance that manufactures DO recommend. Listen to this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?
Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .
You get the picture. Your car or truck is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your service advisor, or do some research of your own.