All the questions you were too embarrassed to ask your mechanic, answered

People love to push the limits. Whether they’re set by a parent, teacher, boss, doctor, whomever, humans seem hardwired to test the boundaries. And we’re no different when it comes to our cars.

But, this philosophy of trial and error isn’t ideal for automobiles (OK, it’s not ideal for a lot of things). When something breaks, the bill can be steep; being stranded in the middle of nowhere could be dangerous…there are countless other situations that you don’t want to experience when testing your mechanical hypotheses with your vehicle.

Nope, best to consult a professional. But some questions are just too embarrassing, right?

Don’t worry. We asked them for you.


How far can I ACTUALLY get with the empty light on?

This varies between manufacturers, but around 40 km is a safe bet. Some cars will go further (some get up to 100km even!), but safest bet is to fuel up when the warning light first goes on.


How important is it to use “premium” gas in my performance vehicle?

Modern performance vehicles have a kind of failsafe built into the computer that detects if you use lower-quality fuel. To prevent accelerated engine wear or even failures, the available power will be limited. So while you theoretically CAN run regular gasoline if you stop at a fuel station that doesn’t have anything else, it’s not recommended. Bottom line: you bought that car for its performance. Spring for the good fuel so you can enjoy all of your power plant’s potential.

Can I do my own oil changes and retain my warranty?

Yes, but make sure you keep your oil and filter receipts.

Will my hybrid move if I run out of gas?

Depends on the hybrid, but usually, yes! For example, the Prius can drive at low speed for as long as the battery still has a charge. However, if you deplete said battery completely, you will have to have said car towed to a Toyota dealership so it can be reset by a technician.


What will happen if I use the wrong type of oil in my car?

Bad stuff. Using an oil that is too thick can prevent your engine from being properly lubricated, and using a thin oil will bring temperatures up and can cause catastrophic failures. Do this properly. Or better yet, have a professional do it.

What if I use different oil every time?

There is a rumor that says once you switch to a synthetic oil, you can never go back to a conventional oil. This is simply untrue. You can switch between the two oil types any time you want. Actually, what is commonly sold as synthetic oil today is a blend of conventional lubricants and synthetic oils.


How long can you ACTUALLY go between oil changes?

Toyota recommends changing your oil every 8,000 km, or 16,000 km in some vehicles. Check your owner manual to make sure.

Can you run a diesel engine with fryer oil?

You can, but your car will require modifications first. Looking for a DIY project?

What’s the difference between torque and horsepower?

Basically, torque is the strength of your engine, and horsepower is how fast it can apply that strength.

Have more questions? Send them our way and we’ll have one of our dedicated service professionals answer them for you.

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