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Maneuvering through motoring myths or maxims

We humans are a clever and resourceful lot, adept at mastering all sorts of complex technologies, from burning CDs to programming TiVo to downloading rock anthems that ring from our cell phones.

But we don't know Jack about cars.

What's worse, what we do know about them is largely based on hearsay, bad advice, wishful thinking and outright nonsense passed down from equally clueless elders, well-meaning cohorts, and some guy named Vern who once pulled our Civic out of a snow bank in Dubuque.

As car technology pulls farther ahead of our capacity to keep up, we nonmechanics tend to rely more on the totemic power of car myths to trim our vehicular costs. We look to these familiar truisms to deliver us from motoring misfortune or provide some diagnosis, however daffy, when faced with a mechanic's quizzical "hmmm."

To separate car fact from fiction, Bankrate.com enlisted the help of two car experts -- national auto writer Paul Duchene, who's based in Portland, Ore., and Gary Martin, owner of Martin Motorsports in Alexandria, Va. -- to give us the lowdown on 10 common car tales that have many miles on them. Some turned out to be patently false, others quite accurate and a couple well, even our casehardened gearheads couldn't quite agree on fact or fiction.

Buckle up as we set out to separate motoring myths from maxims:

Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Mississippi.
Illustrations by Brandy Kesl.

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