How Much Do You Know About Car Myths?

John Miller

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you know what makes a Bugatti faster than a Prius, or why oil changes are an absolute must if you want your car to last? Wondering about the best way to improve efficiency, or how to ensure your car doesn't break down on the side of the highway and leave you stranded? Any idea what would really happen if you hid behind your vehicle if you were ever caught in a shootout? Find the answer to these and other vehicle questions with our ultimate car myths quiz!

Cars are a huge part of everyday life, especially in the U.S., where cities with insufficient public transit are spread across a 3,000-mile stretch of the continent. In fact, cars are such a big part of American life and culture that the average person spends around $9,000 a year on car payments, fuel and upkeep.

And yet, despite the fact that the car is such an integral part of life -- and budgets -- most people know surprisingly little about their vehicles or the auto industry in general. From speed and safety to fuel economy, history and maintenance, cars still come with plenty of mysteries for the average person, and myths and rumors about automobiles tend to spread much faster than the truth.

Consider yourself an automotive master? Take our quiz to see if you can separate car myth from fact!

How does driving while using a cell phone compare to driving while drunk?

Both activities are very dangerous, and some statistics show that phone use is actually worse than driving drunk. Let's all be safe out there, OK?

How will high-octane fuel affect your budget-priced sedan?

Many people pointlessly dump high-octane fuel into their budget cars thinking that they'll get a performance boost. Don't do it -- save the high-octane stuff for your sports car.

What will happen if someone shoots your car's gas tank with a bullet, just like in a Hollywood action film?

Well, if the tank is full, some of your gas might leak onto the ground. But unlike the movies, your car isn't going to blow up immediately. Also, stay away from places where people shoot cars with guns.

How does off-brand gasoline affect your car?

News flash -- generic gas still has to meet the government's specifications. Pricier, name-brand gas isn't getting you any measurable benefits.

What can you do to foil a cop's radar gun from detecting your speed?

Gadget makers love to take peoples' money for radar-busting products. It's not possible. Save your money to pay off your speeding tickets, you crazy driver.

True or false, do bigger wheels make your car go faster?

This one is basic physics. Nothing about bigger wheels makes your car faster. Bigger wheels are heavier, though, and there's no doubt that they'll make your car less fuel-efficient.

True or false, can you get by with simply never changing your oil?

Uh, no. You do need to get fresh oil once in a while. Eventually, oil gets dirty and it will lead to the deterioration of your engine.

True or false, should you get an engine tune-up at least every six months?

Tune-ups are a ploy that service stations use to boost their profits. Modern cars control their performance with an onboard computer, and the only way to change that is to swap out the computer.

True or false, does overdrive make your car go faster?

Overdrive kicks your car into a higher gear, but it doesn't make it go faster. It's best for settling into a high speed on a big, open road, and it'll save you some fuel.

True or false, do manual transmissions offer better fuel efficiency than automatic transmissions?

Back in the day, there was some truth to this. But modern automatic transmissions are things of complex beauty and getting a manual transmission isn't going to make any measurable difference in your fuel efficiency.

How much do red cars cost to insure versus other colors?

It's a silly but long-standing myth that red cars cost more to insure. This one probably started because so many sports cars are red, and sporty cars really are pricier with regards to insurance.

What effect do fuel additives have on your car?

Fuel additives do nothing to benefit your car. Stop wasting your money on them.

True or false, are electric cars more likely to catch fire after an accident?

So far, no, electric vehicles aren't more likely to explode into flames following a wreck. The wreck itself is much more likely to be hazardous to your health.

How does all-wheel drive or 4X4 affect your stopping capability?

All-wheel drive and 4x4 capability are meant to help your vehicle get moving on rugged terrain. But contrary to what many crazy drivers seem to believe, it won't help you stop on a slick road. The result of this myth? Many, many accidents.

Which color of car do police most often pull over?

It's a common myth that cops love to pull over red cars. It's just not true. They pull over any drivers that are breaking the law, though, so be mindful of how you're navigating the highways.

How does a convertible affect your safety in a wreck?

The safety of a convertible is similar to that of a hardtop. No matter what vehicle you drive, you really don't want to experience a rollover accident, which can really hurt everyone in the vehicle.

True or false, do police versions of common car models contain secret super-powered engines?

Some police cars do have modifications, but the vast majority are just regular models ... only they come with cages to keep criminals safely contained in the back seat.

Compared with simply opening the windows, how does the car's air-conditioning unit affect fuel efficiency?

This isn't a trick question. In many cases, the A/C unit uses slightly more gas than simply opening the windows.

What do you have to do to "winterize" your car?

Service stations would love to charge you for a winterization process. Don't do it. Put on your snow tires, reduce your tire pressure and call it good.

If you get into a severe accident, can the axles of your car be ripped right off of the chassis?

Your car's axels are one of the strongest components on the vehicle. Unless you get into some of the worst accidents of all-time, this is never going to happen, no matter what you see in an action movie.

What colors did the iconic Ford Model T come in?

It's a misconception that the Model T came only in black. But Ford cranked out many red, green and other colors of this model. Black, though, was the most common.

How long does it take to recharge your car battery after a jump-start?

Some people think that jump starting a car means the battery will recharge pretty quickly. The reality is that it can take hours to recharge the battery, so keep that in mind before you turn off the engine.

How does increasing highway speed limits affect accident rates?

Increasing speed limits doesn't increase accident rates. If anything, it's the people who drive way under the speed limit who cause a lot of bad accidents.

It's cold outside. What should you do when you start your car?

Just go already. Don't smash the acceleration to the floor or anything and your car will be fine.

True or false, are drivers safer in big SUVs as opposed to little economy cars?

Many people think they're safer in lumbering SUVs as opposed to little cars. But modern small cars have great crash ratings, amazing handling and they don't roll over very often, unlike SUVs. That said, there's no altering the rules of physics. If you're in the bigger vehicle and you crash, you have more cushioning to protect you.

True or false, if you're in a shootout, can you hide from bullets by ducking behind your car?

Unless you have a car with special bullet-proof components, it's not going to do much to protect you from firearms fire. Your better bet? Avoid people who shoot at you.

You should change your oil every _______ miles.

Oil companies have pushed the 3,000-mile myths for decades. It's good for profits, after all. But car makers specify that you don't really need an oil change sooner than 7,500 miles ... and often far more than that.

True or false, can your cell phone spark a fire while you're pumping gasoline?

Cell phones don't cause gas vapors to ignite. Unless, of course, you have an exploding cell phone, and those do exist. Don't buy phones that explode and you'll be fine.

True or false, is there a technology that lets car engines run on water?

It's a myth that makes headlines from time to time, but there's no secret technology that will allow cars to run on water. And unless aliens land and introduce us to some pretty nifty technologies, it won't happen anytime in the future, either.

What happens if you pump fuel into your car early in the morning, when it's cooler outside?

Gasoline is denser at cool temperatures, so the idea is that if you pump in the morning, you'll get more fuel for your dollar. But because gas tanks are underground, there's not really going to be a noticeable difference in how much fuel you get for your money.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes