Car Care

Five bad driving habits that can kill your car

Poor driving habits can damage your car causing increased fuel consumption, accelerating maintenance requirements and, in some cases, resulting in total destruction.

Avoid falling foul of the following practises and you may save yourself some money in the long run.

1. Resting your hand on the gear lever

This is a very common habit, and one that can cause damage to both manual and automatic transmission components. Weight applied to the gear lever transfers down the linkages right through to the internal workings of the transmission and can cause premature wear and tear. It’s also safe driving practice to keep both hands on the wheel.

2. Not using the parking brake

Even on a flat surface, you should use the park brake as the whole weight of the vehicle rests on some very small components. The parking pawl of an automatic transmission is a small metal lever the size of your finger, and could wear or break quite easily.

3. Running on E

I’m sure a lot of us have been in the situation where we’ve had to put $5 or $10 worth of fuel in the tank just to get around for a day or two, and keep that fuel light from illuminating. Little do we know that we could be causing fuel system damage. Most vehicles have a fuel pump inside the tank and this is cooled by the fuel. Constant low fuel levels allow the fuel to become warm and cause the pump to run hotter than it was designed for, which can result in early pump failure.

4. Riding the brakes

Driving around with one foot resting on the brake pedal or crawling down a hill with your foot hard on the brake can cause unplanned maintenance. Brake activation generates heat which is transferred through the brake system and is cooled when the brake is lifted. Hard braking causes heat build-up and can cause the steel brake discs to warp (not to mention wearing the brake pad material out). This is often evidenced by a shuddering or pulsing sensation felt through the brake pedal and in some cases can also translate through to the steering wheel. All you have to do instead is select a lower gear to allow engine braking and monitor oncoming traffic to avoid harsh last-minute braking.

5. Engaging an opposite gear with the car still rolling

The classic rollback; good for burnouts but not for the vehicle. This can also occur when reversing out of a car park and engaging a forward gear before the vehicle reaches a standstill. The poor drive train is still turning backwards and all of a sudden it’s being wrenched in the opposite direction. A few years of this and you may find yourself bearing the brunt of a cost to repair your gearbox, drive shaft or CV joint much sooner than you’d hoped.

While we might not always be able to stop our vehicles from having problems and ageing, these are a few habits of our own that we can control which will help our cars to last longer and keep unwanted bills at bay.

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