Bad habits that could be seriously shortening the life of your car
You could be driving your car into an early appointment with the scrap yard without even knowing it. From risking the cars level of performance to hammering the engine, there are many bad habits which you might not even realise you’re doing. This is why we have identified the most common ways motorists punish their cars.
Resting your hand on the gear-stick
You can probably remember your driving instructor telling you to always keep two hands on the wheel at all times, but many of us develop bad habits as soon as the ‘L’ plates come off. One of these is resting your hand on the gear-stick, which is bad for the transmission. The gear-stick is connected to a selector fork, which is designed to make contact with a rotating collar for a short amount of time. So, if you rest your hand on the gear-stick, you risk applying pressure to the selector fork, causing premature wear.
Hitting potholes and speed bumps
A third of all vehicle damage is caused as a result of potholes, so these holes in the road really are best avoided. The impact can cause buckled wheels, lumps in the tyre and cracked alloys, as well as upsetting the tracking and wheel balancing. And driving over a speed bump without slowing down can cause damage to the front and rear of the car, the underside, and potentially the exhaust system.
Revving the engine when cold
Some people may tell you that making regular short journeys is terrible for your car because the engine oil never fully warms up. In reality, all vehicles start from cold, so the critical thing is to avoid revving the engine until is warmed up. This gives the oil the time to warm and circulate around the engine, avoiding potential damage and undue wear and tear.
Flooring the accelerator in a high gear
Many modern cars feature a gear-shift indicator light, advising you when to change up or down a gear, so it’s probably best not to ignore it. Accelerating at low rpm, or in too high a gear, means that the engine is working harder, placing unnecessary strain on the motor. Change down a gear and allow the revs to rise before changing up. This is particularly important when carrying heavy loads or when climbing hills.
Overloading your vehicle
Modern cars are designed to carry heavy loads, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overloaded. The greater the weight, the more strain your placing on the breaks and suspension. It’s also worth noting that while unnecessary items, such as golf equipment or gym gear, in the boot of your car won’t add increased strain on your car’s parts, it will affect your car’s fuel economy and possibly its emissions output.
Shifting from drive to reverse before stopping
Shifting between reverse and drive in a car fitted with an automatic gearbox is really bad for the transmission. The automatic gear-box is designed to shift gears and not to bring the car to a stop. Shifting gear before coming to a stop will cause wear and tear on transmission, which could be costly.
Neglecting warning lights
Modern dashboards feature many lights but they should never be ignored. Make sure you know what they mean and if they affect the engine/ECU, braking system, power steering, airbag, oil pressure or cooling system, you may need to see a mechanic. If you’re unsure of which lights mean what, and what you should do if you see them, check out our warning lights guide here.
There may be a time when you need to perform an emergency stop, in which case sudden braking is essential. But, consistent late breaking will place more strain on the braking system, wearing out your pads and discs faster, as well as costing you more fuel in the process. In general, a slow and considered approach to driving, anticipating the road ahead, is better for your car and the environment.
Dragging the brakes downhill
Dragging the brakes is a lousy practice that will likely add increased wear and tear on the brake pads and discs. This will lead to needing to replace them more frequently, which will add an unnecessarily increased expense to your driving. When travelling downhill, it is best to engage a low gear, apply some light braking, and then release the pedal to allow the brakes to cool.