Bad Driving Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Vehicle
Seat adjusted, hands at the 10 and 2 position on the wheel and mirror-signal-maneuver. Sound familiar? Regardless of whether you are an experienced or an inexperienced driver, you may find that the bad driving habits you once promised your instructor you would avoid, seemed to find their way into your routine. As we all know, bad habits are hard to break… but could you be damaging your car with these simple mistakes?
We have compiled a list of bad driving habits, some people may be guilty of doing more than others, but that’s why we’re here right? To ensure you realize that these are called ‘bad’ habits for a reason, and that changing how and when you brake, essentially could help you avoid breaking the bank to fork out on some unnecessary repairs! So, here they are:
Resting your hand on the gearstick
‘Both hands on the wheel!’ An instructors favourite phrase, but was there reason behind their insistence? Some people find one hand slipping off the steering wheel and resting on the gearstick, it shouldn’t be too much of problem right, its just more convenient! Wrong. The gearstick is attached to a selector fork, which is meant to have limited contact with the rotating collar, but by pointlessly resting your hand on it, you are causing internal wear. Maybe think of it like this, if you don’t consciously try to keep your hand off the gearstick, you’ll probably find yourself in the future, digging that same hand into your wallet to pay for a new gearbox.
Continuous braking down a hill
Naturally, you become more alert when driving down hills, so you may find yourself resting your foot gently on the brakes, to give yourself some assurance that you’re ready to slow down when necessary. This is called dragging, and the friction causes your brakes to heat up considerably, depending on the length of the hill, thus decreasing their effectiveness. Eventually, your brake pads and discs will be screaming for replacement, and by dragging, you may slow down your car, but you’ll be speeding up each replacement period.
A better technique, that is just as effective, is using engine braking. When descending down a hill, change into a lower gear, so you are travelling at a more manageable speed and then brake swiftly in regular intervals, giving time for your brakes to cool within each interval period, until reaching the bottom of the hill.
Hard starts and stops
We all have our need for speed moments, but flooring it will consume much more fuel, as opposed to having a slow and measured start. But imagine you’ve made the fast and furious choice, in most instances; you’ll have to brake hard in order to slow down. Slamming on the brakes, wears the brake pads down much faster than they should, so you’re better off with choosing the smooth and steady approach. Make smart decisions by anticipating stops and avoid having to make frequent repairs.
Flooring the gas in a high gear
So, as detailed in the previous point, flooring it is bad for your fuel consumption, but stepping on it, whilst in too high a gear or at a low rpm, means you begin to ‘lug your engine’. In simple terms, this means that you are making your engine work harder than it should be, thus burdening it with unnecessary strain. So save yourself some expensive engine repairs, and just change down into a lower gear, before accelerating.
Revving the engine before it has time to warm up
Just as we need a few minutes to adjust to our surroundings when waking up, you should let your engine do the same. Usually, all components of the engine are covered in lubricating oil, but after leaving your car for a long period of time, it all settles at the bottom of the oil pan. On top of that, if the temperatures have dropped, the oil will have undoubtedly thickened in consistency, so it makes sense to leave your car to warm up and let the oil circulate the engine.
Imagine revving your car as soon as starting it up; you are running the risk of metal contacting metal without any lubrication, and that could cause some damage. So weigh up your options, risk damage to your engine just to save yourself a few minutes, or allow your engine a few minutes’ preparation time and save yourself the cost of paying for future repairs.
Using the clutch as a footrest
Similar to resting your hand on the gearstick, after changing gears, you may get too lazy to move your foot off the clutch, because you think it’s no big deal if you are not applying any pressure. But you are actually causing significant damage if you do this frequently. By even pushing it down a little, you are partially engaging the clutch, resulting in the clutch pressure pad trying to lock with the clutch plate, but not fully succeeding, therefore causing unnecessary wear. So practice removing your foot from the clutch as soon as you’re done with it, in order to increase its lifespan.
Overloading your car
Whether it’s going on holiday, or moving house, you may get carried away with utilizing the space in your car. But did you ever stop to consider that maybe your car had a limit to what it could carry, and you were exceeding that?
Overloading your car can cause strain to several components, such as the brakes, suspension and drivetrain. Additionally, the extra weight means your car will drink more fuel. So if you ever see your fuel gauge dropping faster than usual, before thinking there is a fault, ensure that your boot is not over packed, so you can eliminate the chance of a heavy car being the cause of it.
Shifting from drive to reverse before stopping completely
In a manual, you may hear the crunching of gears, when shifting between drive and reverse without stopping. The sound itself should worry you just enough, to encourage you to stop first and then switch. In an automatic, if you are switching from reverse to drive without stopping, you are essentially using the gearbox to stop the car, instead of the brakes and over time this will wear the gearbox out. Similarly, if you put your car into park whilst it is still rolling, then you run the risk of damaging or possibly breaking the locking pin that stops the automatic transmission from turning and in turn the car from moving. I assume waiting those extra few seconds till the car stops, seems to be the better option now, doesn’t it?
Hitting potholes and not slowing down for speed bumps
Naturally, when driving, you are on alert for any unexpected obstacles, but some people tend to either overlook potholes, or try to avoid as many as they can, but end up driving through one or two. These hollows in the road can cause your car some serious damage if not avoided, such as bulges in the tires or even a flat, chipped alloys, misaligned suspension and possibly even injury to your exhaust. Likewise, if you don’t slow down when approaching a speed bump, you face similar risks of hurting your car, so making a conscious effort to avoid both these scenarios; you could be evading some pretty hefty repair bills.
Not using the hand brake
You should always try to engage the handbrake, regardless of whether you have a manual or an automatic car. In automatics, by not using the handbrake, you are placing a lot of pressure on the parking pawl, which is a little metal pin that is used to lock up the transmission. By constantly using it and it having to hold the weight of the car on its own, it can cause the pawl to break. Imagine this happening, and you are parked on even a slight incline, you’re risking your car rolling way. Even if it means sticking a post-it note with ‘handbrake up’ written on it, you must make it a habit to use it and not just ignore it!
Leaving your fuel tank with a small amount of fuel
So, you see your fuel tank running low and you know any second the light is going to start blinking, and you just think to yourself, I’ll put a tenner in later. But by frequently driving your car when there is less than quarter of a tank of fuel, you are essentially endangering your fuel pump, that relies on being immersed in fuel to keep it cool. As a result, the pump will overheat and wear out prematurely. So to avoid the consequence of having to fork out for a new fuel pump, it seems simpler to just keep your tank quarter full.
Disregarding warning lights
Are you the type to just turn a blind eye to any lights that flash up on your dashboard? Well maybe its time to break that habit, because these lights are there to warn you that something is wrong with the health of your car. You should familiarize yourself with what each warning symbol represents, and which ones need immediate attention. Some examples of the important ones are:
- Engine warning light
- Braking system warning light
- Coolant temperature warning
- Oil pressure warning light
- Battery charge warning light
- ABS warning light
- Power steering warning light
- Tire pressure warning light
If you find that any of these bad habits sound a little too familiar, break the habit before it becomes too late and you end up with expensive problems. Or if you’ve noticed any of the above problems with your vehicle and would like some expert advise or a quote for repairs, get in touch with Sinspeed today.