Despite what you might see on viral social media posts, there are a whole bunch of so-called car hacks and tricks that you should never, ever do. If you take car advice from social media, you could end up getting some really terrible results.
There are a lot of social media car myths out there and they are nothing more than a whole lot of misinformation. Never do these terrible things to your car, and find out exactly why you shouldn't.
Don't Sand Down Your Tires
On Tiktok video shows off the smooth finish on some tires, which the video maker says were sanded down to create a "smoother ride." This was most likely a joke but it's also just a terrible bit of advice.
Tire tread is, of course, essential for traction and for your protection while you drive. If your tires are smooth, or "bald" as it's called, this compromises your car's ability to grip and makes it much more likely that you will have a tire blowout.
You should check the tread on your tires frequently, in fact, to make sure your tires aren’t getting too bald. There’s another common myth involving car tire tread and using coins, like pennies.
According to the myth, if you stick a penny into the tread and you can see the top of the president’s head, your tires need to be replaced. This myth isn’t true, either.
Using a coin to determine whether you need to change your tires isn’t a good idea because by the time the tread is that worn down, you should have replaced your tires anyway!
The reason this myth isn’t true is because less tread creates a bumpier ride, not a smoother one. The treadless tires will actually absorb far less shock and any little thing, even a pebble, could cause a tire to burst and that will lead to a very bumpy and quite dangerous ride.
Don't Wash Your Car with Dish Detergent
Don't believe anything you see or hear from social media about washing your car with dish detergent. This is a horrible idea and it will cause damage to your vehicle, even if it seems like a great solution.
Dish detergents are designed to remove oil and residue on pots and pans, which means they will take the wax right off your car. This can seriously damage your paint.
Use soap that's designed for cars instead and don't assume that all liquid soaps are created equal. Different soaps are made to target different types of grime and should only be used on the stuff they're intended for.
Liquid soap is affordable and you probably have some at home already but don’t be tempted to use it unless you also want to fix your paint and re-wax your car. A new paint job is a huge expense.
In the long run, it’s cheaper to get the right kind of car soap and just use that exclusively. If you can’t get your hands on dedicated soap to wash the car, use plain water.
The water will at least knock off some of the grime until you can get to a car wash or get some better soap. Also remember to use soft sponges to clean your car only, not hard bristles that may scratch up your paint.
Everyone is always looking for cleaning hacks and ways to make it easier to keep their cars looking nice, so it’s easy to see why this is such a popular social media car myth. However, it’s definitely not true because dish soap can and will cause damage to your car’s finish.
Don't Put Your Tailgate Down to Save Gas
It's a very old and widely believed myth that driving with the tailgate of your truck down will save you a little on gas. This myth very much pre-dates social media because it’s been out there for as long as tailgates and fuel efficiency were a thing.
It's actually less fuel efficient to do this, however. Driving with the tailgate down adds more drag to the truck and causes it to burn more fuel, so you literally achieve the opposite effect when you drop the tail to save on gas.
Swap out the tailgate for mesh if you want to save money. This actually does work because it reduces wind resistance and drag a great deal.
You can also leave the tailgate up, add a hardcover top, and get more fuel efficiency this way because now the bed is just a smooth, aerodynamic surface.
This myth has actually been tested a number of ways by many different experts and it has been debunked time and time again, but that doesn’t stop new social media myths from forming around this very old legend.
If you want to test this one for yourself, it's pretty easy to do so. Put your tailgate down and drive your normal route to work, recording your gas usage.
Drive the same route the next day with the tailgate up and now look at your gas to check this myth out and you'll see that it's just a very common but very incorrect piece of car fiction.
Don't Get Gas Only in the Morning
If you're waking up early or showing up late so that you can pump gas into your car in the morning, you can stop now. It is a sometimes-seen social media myth that if you get your gas in the morning, you get more gas.
Here's the logic behind this beauty: the cooler morning air makes the gas more dense, which means you actually get more gas when you pump it into your car at this time.
There are a whole bunch of scientific reasons for why this is silly but basically, gas temperature doesn't really change throughout the day by any noticeable amount and you’re going to get the same amount of gas for the money you pay regardless of the weather.
So if you've been making specially scheduled trips up to the gas station, stop. From now on, just get gas whenever you need it.
Since gas prices are trending toward being way too high and everyone is always looking for ways to save money on this expense, any myth involving ways to save gas is bound to get attention on social media. This is exactly why these posts appear so often and become so popular, but the popularity of a post in no way guarantees that it’s actually true.
Don't Pour Boiling Water on Your Windshield
It's the kind of thing that sounds reasonable for a moment but then you realize actually, this is a terrible thing to do. Pouring boiling or very hot water on your windshield to defrost it probably will defrost the windshield.
It also carries a very high possibility of cracking the glass, which is going to cost you a lot of money. Using a standard ice scraper to get the ice off your car is free.
Boiling water does melt ice very quickly but it does it far too quickly. The sudden temperature change is what causes the glass to crack or even shatter, which is a much bigger problem than having an ice-caked windshield.
This myth has been debunked a great many times in a lot of ways, but you still see this myth appear on social media constantly. Any time it’s cold outside, you’ll find this myth floating around on popular social media sites and no matter how good it looks or what the person says this one just is not true and it’s a really bad idea.
Don't Deflate Your Tires to Get Better Traction
If you hear that deflating your tires a little in the snow is the thing you should do, don't. While this car myth has floated around on social media disguised as a very believable fact, deflating your tires is going to put you in more danger.
Letting air out of the tires does nothing to improve your traction, whether or not the weather is icy, and it increases the chance that you going to blow out a tire. This just puts you in even more danger than the icy roads are already creating.
Deflating tires has no real effect on how well your tires grip any surface in any weather conditions but it does make it more likely you’ll pop a tire, which is both expensive and dangerous. Add this to icy and dangerous roads and now you’re brewing up a real disaster cocktail.
There’s a good reason there’s a suggested manufacturer tire pressure and you should absolutely try to maintain that pressure at all times to get the best shock absorption and the best safety while you’re driving in your car. No matter how good this myth might sound, it’s all false.
Car Care Myth FAQ
Some social posts are meant as jokes, some are truly meant as advice, but none should be blindly trusted. Whatever you see on social media, no matter how real or good it might look, double-check all information with an actual automobile expert like a mechanic.
Following so-called social media hacks or tricks can lead to serious damage that ends up being much more expensive in the long run for you and your car. Never do these terrible things you see online and always treat your car well to keep it running well.
How can you fact-check common social media car myths?
Not every hack or tip you find online is a myth. You can actually learn a lot of useful tips online.
However, you need to know how to separate the facts from the fiction. The best way to try to de-bunk or prove myths you read or see on social media is to do more research.
Check common car myths against reputable websites that provide fact-checked information, such as sites that offer articles written by experts. This is how you can separate the fake myths from the really useful tips and tricks that you can use to get a little more gas mileage or make things a little easier when it comes to your car.
What about using your car to make social media videos?
Do you want to be on the giving end, rather than the receiving end, of car tips? If you want to create your own social media posts about cars, be careful.
Making videos and social media posts often requires a lot of experimentation, which can always go south. You might want to reconsider using your own car as a test subject if you're going to try to go viral.
Can you safely test out tricks on your car?
If you're bound and determined to try unknown hacks and social media myths on your car, do so with a lot of care. Test things on a tiny and not easily visible section of your car whenever possible and the moment it looks like things might be going poorly, stop what you're doing.
Also remember that if you're going to run tests on your car, you need to be prepared to fix any damage that may occur! Using your own vehicle as a test subject can be expensive but if you become a social media star, it might be worth it.
Usually, it’s better to take the best possible care of your car that you can and avoid trying to take shortcuts or use hacks. Often, taking a little more time and using a little more effort is going to yield much better results and keep your car in much better working order.
It can be fun and interesting to try out myths and hacks to look for shortcuts. More often than not, however, these are not truly good ways to take care of your car because in life, there usually aren’t that many shortcuts.