Car Questions

By Angela Monroe - October 13, 2021

car questions lfp h1

Cars seem to stir up a lot of questions from motorists and motorists-to-be. We take a look at a few car questions to find the answers.

1. Why do new cars have that new car smell?

It’s glues and new materials releasing gases. Known as ‘off-gassing’, the smell is the result of interior adhesives and sealants drying and ‘settling’. For example, leather bonding to vinyl or other plastics to one another. The new car smell is only temporary.

The phenomenon has become so popular that some automakers hire panels of scent experts to dial up or down or alter the new car smell. This is a reason why some cars smell different than others and/or the smell lasts for longer or shorter periods of time.

2. Why do cars ‘tick down’ when you turn the engine off?

engine start

This only happens with ICE (internal combustion engine) cars, not EVs. The ‘ticking down’ noise refers to the soft ticking sound an engine makes as soon as you turn it off. Most noticeable if you turn the car off and stand next to it in a quiet area.

It’s to do with heat. When the engine is running, it heats up a lot which causes it to expand. After you turn it off, it cools and shrinks back to its original size. This expansion is very minor and not noticeable to the eye.

You typically won’t hear it when you warm up the car, as it expands, due to engine and road noise and sitting inside the vehicle.

3. Why do cars have so many cup holders?


Most people like a cup holder in their car but some have over 10! You can’t even fit 10 people in a car!

It comes down to a few reasons. Firstly, automakers sell models in numerous countries which means interiors will need to serve different lifestyles. For example, many cars in Australia also sell in Asia, Europe and North America, which means big cities like Tokyo, Bangkok, L.A. and Shanghai. Think of the time some commuters spend in their cars, they may end up needing a morning coffee (or two) and water and carpool with colleagues. 

Also marketing comes into play. If a [potential] customer is 50/50 on two competing vehicles, they may be swayed by the one with more amenities, cup holders for example.

Cup holders also act as phone holders and storage for masks, keys and other personal effects.

Ashtrays, once a common feature in cars, are pretty much gone so automakers better fill the void.

4. How does Tesla make money?


From selling cars! Well, it’s not that simple.

The bulk of the EV maker’s income comes from selling their cars but around US$1.9bn comes from other sources.

For example, the company’s Bitcoin purchase in early 2021 saw a US$101 million profit – not bad for doing nothing.

Just under US$500 million came from energy storage and supply, like their Powerwalls and charging facilities.

Other sources include vehicle servicing, a stream which is only growing as their cars become older.

5. Why do some cars use premium fuel?


You’ve likely seen different petrol types at the petrol station; 98, 95 and 91 are common to see.

The numbers refer to the octane rating, basically, the higher, the better – but the more refining is needed and, therefore, the more it costs.

The number determines the fuel’s anti-knock ability, which means its resistance to premature ignition, aka; knock or detonation. Knock is when the petrol doesn’t ignite solely from the spark plug like it’s supposed to. It can cause major damage.

Engines under more extreme conditions, like turbocharged engines and/or high performance engines need the extra protection that 98 and 95 RON offer.

RON stands for Research Octane Number.

Always use the fuel that your manufacturer recommends, however, many motorists report that adding premium fuel once in a while has benefits such as more mileage per tank.

6. What’s stamp duty?

It’s a fee you have to pay when you buy a car. The fee is typically a percentage of the sales price of the vehicle.

It is the buyer’s responsibility to pay stamp duty.

The states and territories in Australia calculate stamp duty differently, so check with your government’s website to get a clear idea of what you might be up for when you buy a car.

It’s not just vehicles that attract stamp duty. Property, plant and equipment, intellectual property, just to name a few things, also typically attract the cost.

But we don’t even use stamps anymore!

Stamp duty can be big bucks considering an actual stamp is a matter of cents and most people don’t even need stamps as processes are all online.

Stamp duty comes from 17th century Spain where physical stamps were placed on documents as proof that tax had been paid.

In Australia, stamp duty is a once-off tax levied by state governments.

Car questions

There are millions of cars and motorists in Australia, and likely millions of car questions.

Hopefully, the above answered some of those questions and cleared up any confusion around the topics covered.

Stay tuned for more answers to car questions in the future.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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