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Car Questions You’re Scared to Ask

Mechanic wearing protective glasses changing a car's oil

In most aspects of life, knowledge is power; this is especially true when it comes to your car. Having insight into how your vehicle works plays a part in keeping you safe on the road, and it can help you handle any car troubles without breaking a sweat.

Asking the right car questions can provide you with some valuable automotive know-how. Still, many people new to owning or caring for a vehicle shy away from asking questions for fear of looking uninformed. If you’re one of those folks, you’re in luck! Here are the answers to four car questions you may have been scared to ask.

What happens if I use gas with a lower octane level than my car’s manufacturer recommends?

When it comes to your car’s fuel, there are two words to watch for in the owner’s manual: “required” and “recommended.” If a specific octane is “required,” always choose that octane when getting gas. Failure to do so could damage the engine.

However, if the manual “recommends” a specific octane, you have more wiggle room. Using a gas with a lower octane than the one recommended by the automaker every once in a while shouldn’t cause any problems. Still, don’t make this a regular practice. Octane ratings impact an engine’s performance and fuel economy. To get the best possible performance and gas mileage, stick with the octane recommended in the owner’s manual.

How often should I check the air in my tires?

Some experts recommend that you check your tire pressure every time you put gas in your car. Not everyone will have the time to do this, but it’s a good rule to follow. At the very least, check your tire pressure once a month. Keeping your tires properly inflated helps to optimize your car’s fuel economy and handling.

How often should I change my car’s timing belt?

Your car’s timing belt plays an important role in the way your vehicle runs. It controls and synchronizes the pistons and valves in a car’s combustion engine. Deterioration of the timing belt can happen suddenly, causing unsafe driving conditions if it happens while you’re behind the wheel. For this reason, it’s advisable to replace the belt according to recommendations given by your mechanic or your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Newer cars can go for up to 100,000 miles without needing a new timing belt, while older vehicles may need a replacement after about 60,000 miles.

How often should I change my car’s air filter?

The air filter keeps sand and other debris from entering your car’s engine. In doing so, it prevents engine damage and extends its life. Typically, it’s recommended that you replace the air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. However, you may need to replace the filter more frequently if your car has a turbocharged engine or if you regularly drive on unpaved roads.

These tips will help you get up to speed on issues related to automotive care and maintenance. Having access to basic car knowledge and advice makes owning a car a lot less stressful.

Check out all the filters and related products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more answers to common car questions, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.


Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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