Over the last couple of weeks, a rash of fake memes have been popping up all over Facebook. These automotive-themed images make all kinds of horrible suggestions for winter “life hacks” that will absolutely not help, and in reality could not only cost you thousands in repairs, but could create life-threatening situations such as loss of brakes, or tire blow outs. We here at Street Tech Magazine want to help set the record straight on these so-called “life hack” memes.
Antifreeze in the Brakes- The meme says “Scariest thing that could happen this winter is your brakes freezing up while driving. Add a cup of antifreeze to your brake fluid to keep it from freezing while driving this winter”. This is one that has actually put people in real danger, as people have been trying it. This could cause your brakes to not function at all, which could kill you or someone else. Brake fluid freezes at -40 degrees F, but over time, brake fluid naturally absorbs water, raising the freeze point. If you have any concerns, change your brake fluid with fresh brake fluid, NEVER add any water-based chemical to you brake master cylinder.
Remove Your Coolant- Playing off the word “coolant”, our next meme says to protect your engine by removing the coolant in the winter and replace it with plain water to keep it from freezing, as if to say that “coolant” is more likely to freeze. In reality, the coolant is the anti-freeze water mixture, which by design resists freezing until extreme temperatures. Plain water in your engine block will freeze around 32-degrees F. The problem is that water expands when it freezes, and when it does this inside the water jackets of your engine, it tends to crack the block or heads. Instead of this horrible and potentially costly suggestion, use an antifreeze tester to make sure your coolant is sufficient enough to stave off freezing. You can also pour in some additive like Royal Purple Purple Ice.
Screws in the tires- Ice and snow may cause your tires to lose traction, grab some 2” wood screws and thread them into your tires to get instant snow tires! While this may work on giant tractor tires that have 4 inch tread, try this on your Michelins and you will be headed into the shop to get some new ones. There are ways of doing this that actually work, but not 2” screws, and it is not street legal. Instead of destroying your rubber, try a set of chains for when the white stuff gets deep.
Hot water windshield- When Your windshield is iced up in the morning, and you are running late for work, save yourself some time, throw a cup of hot water on the windshield, the ice will melt and you can get on the road much faster. If you own stock in a glass manufacturing plant, then this is tip is for you, otherwise, you are just going to shatter your windshield. Average windshield replacement costs about $350 bucks, so do yourself a favor and stay as far from this as possible. If you need to de-ice your glass quickly, use a can of windshield deicer. It uses a chemical to melt ice without drastically changing the temperature ( which is what breaks the glass on the hot water scenario). Pro tip- When there is ice coming, lift your wipers into locked position (like you are changing the blades), this will keep them from sticking to the glass, tearing the blade in the process.
While these may be obviously fake to people who know cars, there are many out there that may be taken in by these erroneous tips. By sharing these fake tips, you are in fact legitimizing them, particularly if your friends and family consider you to be an authority of automotive matters. For example- You share a troll meme about putting antifreeze in the master cylinder. You laugh, your buddies laugh and then you forget about it. Your 75 year old aunt sees it is on your page. Your uncle passed away 5 years ago, and she is the one taking car of the car now. She knows that you are big car guy and buys some antifreeze the next day and pours it in. On the way home, her brakes fail and she t-bones a minivan with a family of five inside, killing herself and the family. All because you shared a troll meme without calling it out as a fake like you should have.
This is how these things are propagated. If you share them without calling them out as fake, you are part of the problem. To that end, we ask that you not continue this affront to real, actual helpful tips. Please share this on your Facebook page and help dispel the myths. We have also created modified versions of some of these memes, declaring them fake, please feel free to share them as well. Remember, not one of us was born knowing how to work on cars, do your part to teach them the right way.