One or two bad habits creep in for every driver, but some can cause strain and even costly long-term damage to your car. To help you avoid breakdowns and big repair bills, we share the 10 habits that could be causing hidden damage to your car.
1. Revving the engine when it’s cold
Only ever driving very short distances can be bad for your car because there isn’t enough time for the engine oil to heat up.
Most cars reach peak performance after being driven steadily for 20 to 30 minutes, because it gives the oil time to warm up and circulate the engine. But when you have to do a short journey, letting your car run idle for at least 30 seconds before you set off will help.
2. Dragging the brakes
Dragging happens when you apply pressure to the brake pedal for a sustained period. Lots of us fall into the trap of doing this - like when we’re driving down a hill for example. But if it becomes a habit, it can cause discs and pads to wear out quicker.
To avoid damage, engage a low gear and remember when it comes to braking, slow and steady is always best. And when you’re not using the brake pedal, lifting your foot off fully will avoid drag and allow the brakes to cool.
3. Resting your hand on the gearstick
Your gearstick connects to a selector fork which should only make contact with the rotating collar when you change gear.
Resting your hand on the gearstick might feel like a natural thing to do, but it puts the fork and collar in constant contact and can lead to premature wear.
So, unless you’re changing gear, keep your transmission ticking along healthily by keeping both hands on the wheel.
4. Carrying too much weight
Modern cars can hold a fair bit of weight, but we should still take care not to overload them.
Removing weighty items when you’re not using them, like golf clubs and tools, can help your fuel economy and emissions output.
And if you’re using your car for a big job, like moving house or going on holiday, dig out your owner’s manual and check the vehicle’s maximum weight. One too many bags and you could be putting strain on your suspension, drivetrain and tyres.
5. Ignoring warning lights
The warning lights on your dashboard are designed to alert you if there’s a problem. Some can wait until you stop, others need addressing right away.
Grab your vehicle handbook and get to know them all. And remember - the best way to avoid unexpected problems is by making sure your car is serviced regularly.
To book a service, locate your nearest First Stop garage, here.
6. Flooring it in a high gear
Accelerating at a low rpm in a high gear puts a lot of strain on the motor.
Most cars have a gear shift indicator to advise you when to up and down shift. Paying close attention to this will increase efficiency and help prolong the life of your engine.
It also helps avoid strain, especially if you’re climbing a hill or carrying a heavy load.
7. Hitting bumps and potholes
The UK roads are full of potholes. It’s not always easy to avoid them, especially when it’s dark or wet. But drivers who never take care may well be causing irreparable damage.
Shock absorbers, springs and even the overall suspension can suffer. It can cause lumps in tyres, cracks in alloys and even upset wheel alignment.
The same goes for speed bumps. Adjust your speed in plenty of time to avoid damage to your car’s underside and exhaust system.
8. Shifting from reverse to drive without stopping first
Whether you drive a manual car or an automatic, always come to a complete stop before shifting into reverse.
Doing this without stopping can damage the transmission – damage which can go unnoticed because it’s not checked during a regular service. And if you end up needing repair work in this area, it’s likely to be costly.
9. Riding the clutch
Up there with resting a hand on the gearstick, is the common habit of resting the left foot on the clutch pedal.
Repeatedly applying even slight pressure to the clutch when you’re not using it can cause serious wear that won’t be covered by your warranty.
Most cars have a clutch footrest, so be mindful of using it. And if you’re performing a hill-start, leave the handbrake on until you’re ready to move.
10. Late braking
Granted, you may need to do the odd emergency stop, just like you practiced ahead of your test. Your car can cope with this occasionally. But leave breaking until the very last moment every time, and you’ll be wasting fuel and wearing out your brakes quicker.
Wherever possible, a slow and considered approach to braking is safer and much better for your car. Always keep your eyes on the road ahead and try to anticipate what’s coming up.
Thanks for reading 10 habits that secretly damage your car.
Remember the best way to look after your vehicle is with regular servicing.
Find your local First Stop garage here.