Are bad driving habits damaging our cars?

Are bad driving habits damaging our cars?

From that first family road trip abroad to the freedom we gained when we passed our test, our cars hold a lot more importance to us than just being a means of getting from A to B. As one of our most prized and costly possessions, we want to keep them in the best shape possible for as long as possible.

We all know that carrying out car maintenance, such as checking tyre pressure and engine oil levels, plays a vital role in keeping our cars in top nick; however, in itself, this may not be enough. Even the best drivers in the world make mistakes, but avoiding some common bad driving habits could help your car last longer, as well as save you a significant amount of money on unnecessary repairs and trips to the mechanic.

Common bad driving habits that could damage your car

Using the gear lever as a hand rest

Resting on the gear lever when you’re not changing gears may seem innocent enough, but this puts strain on the transmission’s bushings and synchronisers and could lead to unnecessary, premature wear.

Resting hand on gear leverResting on gear lever
Running on the bare minimumRunning on the bare minimum

Keeping the bare minimum in the tank

Filling a tank to the brim can be expensive, and many of us choose to only fill a little at a time. In the long run, this could lead to damage in the fuel system. This is because fuel pumps cool when they’re submerged, meaning that running on the bare minimum could cause them to heat up and wear out.

Riding the clutch

Using the clutch when it’s not needed – when at a standstill for example – is something many of us have been guilty of at one point or another. This can cause the surfaces of the clutch to graze against each other, wearing them down and leading to sudden failure.

Revving a cold engine

Letting the engine warm up when you first start your car helps distribute oil around the engine and gets the engine block and oil to the right temperature. While revving the engine may seem like the fastest way to warm it up, this can cause sudden temperature changes that could result in parts being damaged. You should, instead, let the car sit in neutral with the engine running for a minute or two.

Revving a cold engineRevving a cold engine
Neglecting warning signsNeglecting warning signs

Neglecting warning signs

More often than not, your car will let you know if something is going wrong; either through abnormal vibrations and sounds, or via warning lights appearing on the dashboard. No one knows your car better than you, so if you notice something’s amiss, check the issue right away.

Sudden take-offs and stops

Accelerating suddenly burns more fuel than gradually building up speed; while braking abruptly, although sometimes necessary, can damage brake pads and rotors. It may sound obvious, but vision is key; make sure you know what’s ahead so you can avoid abrupt take-offs and sudden stops.

Riding brakes downhill

Although resting your foot on the brakes may seem like the logical option when driving downhill, this puts the braking system under unnecessary strain and can result in the brake pads overheating. Try shifting to a lower gear instead; this will help keep your car at a safe speed through natural engine braking.

Shifting from reverse to drive when not completely standstill (automatic only)

Shifting from drive to reverse is something many of us do without thinking, but over time sudden changes of direction can cause serious damage to your car’s drivetrain. Coming to a complete standstill before shifting can help your transmission and engine last longer.

Not using the parking brake (automatic only)

Not using the parking brake results in the entire weight of the car essentially resting on the parking pawl – a small piece of metal within the transmission – and could eventually lead to this part wearing out and breaking.

No one’s a perfect driver, and bad habits can be very hard to break, but trying to avoid the scenarios above could help keep your car in good condition for longer, as well as save you money on unnecessary repairs.

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