AAA Experts Debunk Top Five Car Care Myths

Auto club offers tips, free inspections in honor of Car Care Month


From how often you should change your oil to how long it takes a battery to charge, there are countless misconceptions when it comes to auto repair. In honor of October being National Car Care Month, AAA is helping dispel the most common car care myths.


“When it comes to car care, motorists are often given conflicting advice which can create confusion,” said John Walter, director of Auto Repair for AAA Arizona. “The best way to determine your vehicle’s maintenance needs is to use your owner’s manual as a guide. In addition, it’s also important to have a trusted auto technician who will let you know if something more than routine maintenance is needed.”


In the spirit of National Car Care Month and to help motorists decide fact from fiction, AAA Auto experts demystify five car care fallacies:


Myth 1: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.

Fact: Newer technology has helped to extend the life of oil beyond the previously recommended 3,000 miles for older vehicles. In fact, according to, the average oil change interval for a 2010 vehicle is 7,800 miles. To determine the correct oil change frequency, AAA experts advise motorists to adhere to the interval specified in their owner’s manual.

Myth 2: Synthetic oil is best for your car.

Fact: Many consumers opt for synthetic oil, as they believe it is better for their car. While synthetic oil does have some advantages, such as longer change intervals, it is also more expensive—upwards of $50 or more than a regular oil change.  Drivers should refer to their owner’s manual to find the manufacturer’s recommended oil type, which will vary depending on vehicle make, model and year.  

Myth 3: The air filter should be changed with every oil change.

Fact: Most drivers do not need a new filter every oil change, but it all depends on driving conditions. An air filter on a vehicle primarily driven on surface streets and highways, for example, could last upwards of 30,000 miles, whereas a vehicle driven off road or that is exposed a lot of dust may need to be replaced much sooner. While it may not need to be changed, your air filter should be checked at every service interval and replaced when necessary. To check it, hold it up to a light. If no light is visibly shining through it, it’s time to replace it.


Myth 4: After a jump-start, your car recharges the battery within minutes.

Fact: After a jump-start, it can take hours to fully charge a battery, especially in extreme heat or cold. A battery test, such as those provided by AAA Mobile Battery Service, can determine whether the battery will be able to hold a charge or if it needs replacement. The average lifespan of a battery in Arizona is typically no more than 32 months. A battery that needs to be replaced will not hold a charge for very long, if at all.


Myth 5: A dealership must perform regular maintenance to keep your car’s factory warranty valid.

Fact: Maintenance can be conducted without jeopardizing the factory warranty at any repair shop – not just a dealership – so long as the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule is followed. If a repair is covered under a factory warranty, it should be conducted by the dealership. However, if a repair is covered by an extended warranty, work can be performed outside the dealership in most cases. Whether routine maintenance is performed at a dealership or independent shop, AAA advises drivers to keep detailed records of all work performed on the vehicle.

“As vehicles have evolved over the years, so have their maintenance needs,” said Walter. “The vehicle you own now is going to have different needs than the one you owned 10 years ago.”


Motorists in need of a trusted auto technician can turn to AAA’s network of AAA Owned or AAA Approved Repair facilities. These shops are offering free 36-point inspections and charging system checks for members during Car Care Month. Find the shop nearest you at


As the nation’s largest auto club, AAA offers a variety of automotive resources. For more information, visit

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.