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Bad Habits That Damage Your Car

Though many of us are unaware, bad habits that damage your car can also be causing some damage to your bank account.

By Joseph FarleyPublished 6 years ago 5 min read

For most of us, purchasing a car is a huge investment. In many cases it's the most expensive thing we own, but are you aware of all the bad habits that damage your car? Many of us constantly employ bad habits that do serious damage to our cars, and more importantly, our wallets – you'd think we were all rich! We are all guilty of at least a few of these costly habits, how many are you guilty of?

Unnecessary Braking

We've all been stuck behind somebody who is constantly tapping on the brakes, regardless if there is another vehicle in front of them or not. Not only is this incredibly annoying (most people are trying to get somewhere!) but it is also one of those bad habits that damage your car. Constantly jamming on your brakes prematurely wears out your brake pads and rotors, and to make matters worse, is incredibly fuel inefficient. Gravity is your friend in this situation. Take your foot off the gas and coast, the car will naturally slow down, and you will find it much easier to get the engine moving again, which of course, eventually, you will have to do.

Riding on E

Who has the kind of cash to fill up every time they need to hit the pump? Many of us have been in the situation where we're thinking to ourselves, "Just how much money worth of gas do I have to ask this friendly attendant to put in my beater car to avoid him laughing at me?" Anything under $10 is going to get a strange stare, but sometimes you got no choice. Just because your car can seemingly ride forever on empty doesn't mean you should do it, as most cars fuel pumps need to be submerged in gas in order to work best. Chipping in a few extra dollars (if you can live without it) each time you hit the gas station can go a long way towards saving you money down the road and help you avoid bad habits that damage your car.

Forgetting the Parking Brake

Unless you live on a hill, it's unlikely that you ever put that much thought into your parking brake. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Not engaging the parking brake puts undue pressure – the entire weight of your vehicle – on a small piece of metal inside your transmission. Ever notice how on even the smallest of dips your car seems to rock forward ever so slightly before settling in? Setting the parking brake helps even the load and helps increase the longevity of any make or model of car. Just be sure to put it down before you take off, or be prepared to see sparks and likely devastate your rotors.

Not Giving the Engine Time to Warm

When you fire up the engine, especially on colder days, you'd be wise to let it heat up a bit or you're risking potentially expensive damage. Letting it sit for a bit is a great habit to get into, as it helps heat the oil up a bit throughout the engine block and reduce stress on parts that need to fit snug in order to work properly. This might seem like basic engine maintenance, but it's incredibly common for people to forget the basics when they're in a rush – like being late for work – and one of the most common bad habits that damage your car! That doesn't mean you need to sit in the driveway all morning, in most cases, a minute or two should work fine.

Beating the Clutch

Those of us who drive a manual transmission (stick) are constantly grinding the gears by leaving the full weight of their hand on it when in between shifting. Don't be one of those people. Sure, it's more fun to drive with one hand, but the proverbial ten-and-two is not only safer for you, it's safer for the internal components of your car–mostly your delicate and expensive to fix transmission. Many drivers also inch forward, keeping their hand pressed to the clutch, waiting for the light to turn green. While you're waiting to drop the clutch into gear, you're also grazing the pressure plate and weakening the bearings and the release arm, which over time and many miles, can cause sudden failure.

Abusive Shifting

Sudden shifting from drive to reverse is a killer on your car's drivetrain. It makes the situation far worse if you don't come to a full stop before changing directions, and will speed the demise of your most expensive possession. It can happen when you are trying to beat a fellow driver to or from a parking spot, but in the end, it's almost never worth it. Take it slow, as ideally you should be taking the time to check your mirrors for obstructions – like an old lady or a blind man, whatever. Being a good citizen can help you avoid bad habits that damage your car, and save future axle, engine, and transmission trouble.

Scoffing at Warning Signs

Remember, cars are built to break... even the most reliable ones. Of course some last much longer than others, and the variety of results between are seemingly endless, but make no mistake, at some point your car will need some professional care. But how much depends greatly on the owner. Generally, you're car will let you know when it's having a hard time, anything from squeaking to strange knocks shouldn't be ignored if they seem to be more than usual. If you think you hear or smell something, odds are you do. It can be tempting to ride it out and hope it goes away, but how often does that happen with other problems? Trust your gut, and just as importantly, your mechanic. Don't get taken advantage of, but while you're at it try not to get stranded somewhere dangerous or without cell coverage. Find somebody credible to inspect and service it or you'll wind up riding the bus.

Unneeded Drive Weight

Don't take things you don't need – this should apply anywhere actually. Weighing your car down with unneeded weight will put a heavy stress on the engine, transmission, and suspension. It will be a disaster for fuel economy and prematurely wear down your brakes and brake pads. On the more imminently dangerous side, loading up your car messes with the handling and visibility and make for more unpredictable driving conditions. Sometimes you don't have options, you need to get stuff from A to B, just remember it's wise to take into account the tax it will take on your vehicle.

It's likely impossible that you can avoid all of these bad habits that damage your car, but if you want to protect your investment it'd be wise to stick to these tips as close as you possibly can. Now you are ready to hit the road and drive smart, and perhaps more importantly, safe.


About the Creator

Joseph Farley

Joseph Farley is a North Jersey based writer who loves short fiction and stand-up comedy

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