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These 8 Driving Habits are Ruining Your Car

You’re a safe, cautious driver. You never neglect an oil change. You carry out every maintenance task on time – every time. But even with all of this hard work, you may be damaging your car without even realizing it. How? Bad driving habits.

I’m not necessarily talking about speeding or tailgating, although both of those habits can easily get you a ticket or into an accident. I’m talking about simple things you probably do every single day that can cause premature wear and tear on your vehicle.

1. Dragging Your Brakes Downhill

It’s a natural reaction to hit the brakes when you’re traveling downhill, especially if it’s a particularly steep hill. However, dragging the brakes will only put more wear and tear on your brake pads and discs.

More wear and tear equals more money spent on repairs.

If you’re traveling downhill, it’s best to apply light braking and then release the pedal to allow the brakes to cool down.

2. Not Using Your Parking Brake

If you’re like most drivers, you probably only use the parking brake, or emergency brake, when you’re parked on a hill. The last thing you want is for your car to roll downhill while you’re in the grocery store.

But you should really be using your parking brake every time you park.
Without the parking brake, the entire weight of your vehicle rests on the parking pawl, a little piece of metal in the transmission. Eventually, all of that weight will wear out the parking pawl and make the “P” on your gearstick virtually useless.

There’s really no reason not to use your parking brake, so you might as well save your car the wear and tear.

3. Resting Your Hand on the Gearstick

If you drive a manual, you may have a habit of resting your hand on the gearstick. But really, there’s no reason to touch the shifter unless you’re changing gears.

When you rest your hand on the shifter, you put extra weight on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers. Eventually, this little bit of extra weight will cause internal wear and tear.

It’s best to keep both hands on the steering wheel, and only put your hand on the shifter when you’re switching gears.

4. Waiting Until Empty to Refuel

When you’re not using your vehicle, mechanical impurities start accumulating in the gas tank, and sediment forms at the bottom. That dirt and sediment will make its way into the fuel filters and pump if you wait until the tank is empty to refuel.

It’s also a bad idea to ride around with only a little bit of gas in the tank. I understand that sometimes, you just can’t afford a full tank of gas. We’ve all been there, and it’s okay to only add a gallon or two of gas once in a while when you’re strapped for cash.

However, doing this continually can eventually damage your vehicle.
Modern fuel pumps are cooled by being submerged in fuel. If you only have a small amount of gas in the tank, it’s not enough to keep the pump cool.

This means that the pump will heat up and wear out more quickly.

Try to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full to keep your pump submerged and cool.

5. Switching Between Drive and Reverse Before You’re Completely Stopped

If you’re in a hurry or trying to move into a tight parking space, you may switch between drive and reverse before you come to a complete stop


It’s common for drivers to shift from reverse to drive while still moving backwards. But this bad habit can put extra strain on your drivetrain because it’s forced to suddenly move in the opposite direction.

It’s worth taking the extra moment to make sure that you’re completely stopped before switching to drive or reverse.

6. Ignoring the Warning Signs

If you’re like many other drivers, you probably overlook little sounds, squeaks and rattles. Sometimes, cars just make unusual noises, right? Yes, but those noises may also be signs of an issue. Ignoring these noises and warning signs can lead to a bigger problem eventually.

If your car is giving you warning signs or making strange sounds, inspect the issue right away to avoid a costly repair in the future.

7. Hitting Speed Bumps and Potholes

Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion each year, according to AAA. Hitting speed bumps and pot holes only puts undue wear and tear on your vehicle. They should be avoided at all costs if possible.

The impact can lead to lumps in the tire, buckled wheels, cracked alloys, unbalanced wheels and damage to the suspension system. Hitting speed bumps without slowing down can have similar consequences and potentially damage the front and rear of the vehicle.

I know firsthand that it’s not possible to avoid every single pothole. They can be hard to see at night, especially if the roads are wet. But they should be avoided if you can safely do so.

8. Overloading Your Car

Modern vehicles are designed to carry heavy loads, particularly SUVs and vans. However, they should not be overloaded.

Check your car’s manual to find out its maximum load weight. This will give you an idea of how much luggage you can haul. It’s important to remember that the greater the weight, the more strain that you’ll put on the vehicle’s brakes, drivetrain and suspension.

Leaving unnecessary items in the trunk, like your gym bag or sports gear, won’t necessarily put extra strain on your car, but it can affect your fuel economy. Ideally, you want to remove any unnecessary items from your vehicle and travel as lightly as possible. You may notice that you fill the tank less often when you travel lightly.

If you’ve adopted any of these driving habits, you’re not alone. Most of us are guilty of doing at least one of these things. But making it a point to try and change these habits can help keep your vehicle running optimally for longer.

June 18, 2019


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