Who knows more about basic auto-related maintenance issues? A new survey found that while 69 percent of men and 64 percent of women think men know more than women on the subject, their responses to basic car-care questions tell a different story. The study sponsored by Jiffy Lube International reveals that women who turn to men for car-care advice may not be getting good counsel as often as they think. Ask anybody and they'll tell you the same thing.
"With peak driving season approaching and gasoline prices rising, we decided to see if men really have any bragging rights when it comes to getting the most out of your vehicle and every gallon," said Jiffy Lube International technical expert Mark Ferner.
What he discovered was that men think they know the answers to basic vehicle-related questions but often they don't. For example, when asked where a vehicle's proper tire-inflation pressure information is located, 67 percent of men and 45 percent of women said on the tires' sidewalls. In fact, that's wrong.
Proper tire pressure is vehicle-specific, but tire sidewalls list the maximum pressure recommended by the tire manufacturer for that tire. The proper tire pressure information for a specific vehicle is found on a decal typically displayed in the vehicle's door jamb or in the vehicle owner's manual. Twenty-two percent of women and just 16 percent of men correctly answered that recommended tire pressure is not on the tire sidewall, wheel rim or wheel well.
In a similar vein, two-thirds (67 percent) of men and 46 percent of women incorrectly assumed simply switching from conventional engine oil to synthetic oil enables the number of miles between oil changes to be safely extended.
"Switching from conventional to synthetic oil is not an automatic license to extend a vehicle's oil-change interval," said Ferner. "The vehicle manufacturer's recommendations and the conditions in which you drive are also important. Most vehicle owners' manuals list two oil change intervals -- one for normal driving and the other for severe driving. If you idle excessively or often drive in stop-and-go traffic or extreme weather conditions, your vehicle is likely a candidate for the severe service schedule."
A high percentage of men and women were off base on the normal life expectancy for typical windshield wiper blades. While about half of the men and women polled (54 percent and 49 percent) correctly answered six to 12 months, 39 percent of men and 38 percent of women answered anywhere from one to five years.
"Many drivers don't think about the condition of their wiper blades until they're caught in foul weather," said Ferner. "Checking and replacing them as needed could improve visibility to avoid a very dangerous situation out on the road."
When it comes to fuel-saving tips, the good news is that about half of men and women (50 percent and 48 percent) knew under-inflated tires, a dirty air filter, incorrect wheel alignment, and even a loose gasoline cap can all reduce gas mileage. But the bad news is the other 50 percent of the population didn't know these simple methods to decrease fuel consumption. Independent studies suggest that maintaining proper tire pressure and replacing a clogged air filter can save an average of 10 cents and 29 cents per gallon of gasoline, based on a per-gallon price of $2.90.
"Avoiding fast starts and stops, speeding, and excessive idling can also help you get more miles out of every gallon of gasoline," Ferner said.
To be fair to men, they did fare significantly better than women on a few other car-care questions. For example, 47 percent of men versus 27 percent of women knew cabin air filters clean the air passengers breathe. We're not sure what the women thought, but then we're never sure what women are thinking.
Based in Villeperce, France, Tom Ripley writes about the auto industry and the human condition.