Your vehicle is probably one of your more costlier possessions, and certainly one that is heavily relied on. So, making it last as long as possible should be a top priority. Keeping up with regular vehicle maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations goes a long way, but the way it is driven can have negative impacts on the life of the vehicle. Here are 10 bad driving habits that can cause damage to your vehicle and how to overcome them.
1. Slamming into Potholes. It’s pothole season again, and potholes are popping up everywhere. If you hit a pothole head-on at high speeds, you can damage or even blow out a tire, not to mention the toll it takes on your suspension, steering, and alignment. To help avoid potholes, stay alert and mindful of the road conditions. If you can’t steer clear of a pothole without crossing into another lane of traffic at the last minute, slow down instead. You’ll minimize the impact of possible damage.
2. Racing Over Speed Bumps. Just like potholes, speedbumps have a negative effect on your vehicle’s steering, suspension, and alignment if driven over at high speeds. The purpose of speed bumps is to keep drivers and pedestrians safe. You will keep your neighbors and your car happy if you slow down when approaching a speed bump.
3. Forgetting the Parking Brake. Did you know you’re supposed to use your parking brake every time you park? Doesn’t matter if the terrain is flat or hilly. Your transmission can stop your vehicle from moving when it’s in ‘Park’, but the only component that is really designed to keep your wheels locked in place is the Parking Brake. It’s best to engage your parking brake before you put your transmission into park to help limit the stress on the transmission.
4. Not stopping before shifting from Reverse to Drive. It happens to all of us, we get in a hurry and sometimes switch to “Drive” while the car is still rolling backward. Just keep in mind, every time your impatience gets in the way, your car’s transmission system takes a hit. The transmission system relies on the breaks to stop the motion of the car so it can shift smoothly between gears. Make sure you come to a complete stop before switching gears.
5. Running on Fumes. Did you know gasoline acts as a coolant in your fuel system? So if your tank is low on fuel it can cause parts to overheat and malfunction. Your fuel pump, fuel system, and catalytic converter could be damaged if you run out of fuel completely. It is recommended to fuel up your vehicle when it gets down to a quarter tank of gas.
6. Ignoring dashboard warning signs. Don’t ignore dashboard warning lights when they appear, your vehicle is asking for help! Pay attention to the check engine light, battery, coolant, airbag and oil warning lights. If you see a warning light pop up, stop by Hilltop Tire Service to have it investigated. Disregarding warning lights can leave you stranded with costly repair bills down the road.
7. Riding the Brakes. Resting your foot on the brake pedal while going down a steep hill or in stop-and-go traffic can overheat your brakes. Brakes lose some of their stopping power when they overheat. Rather than ‘riding the brakes” try switching to a lower gear when going down a steep slope and drive cautiously with extra space between vehicles, letting up on the accelerating to slow down instead of using your brakes.
8. Hard starts and stops. Hard stops wear out your brakes faster while quick starts waste fuel. Obviously, sudden stops are necessary at times, but the best way to drive is to look ahead and plan accordingly, smoothly pressing on the gas or brake pedal when needed.
9. Revving a Cold Engine. Starting your engine and letting it idle for a few minutes helps warm up the engine and give the oil time to circulate. However, don’t rev the engine when it is cold. This causes unnecessary wear on engine parts that haven’t had time to be lubricated with thorough oil circulation. It also causes abrupt temperature changes that can damage parts. Let your engine warm-up before revving the engine, it will sound better and rev more smoothly.
10. Hauling around extra weight. We’re not talking about the passengers, here. Clean out the trunk, no need to haul the golf clubs or hockey sticks around when you’re going to the grocery store. Every pound of extra weight affects your fuel economy, putting extra stress on your suspension, drivetrain and brake parts. Lighten your load and give your vehicle a thorough clean-out so you’re only carrying the essentials.
We know bad habits can be hard to stop sometimes, especially driving habits for seasoned drivers. Regardless of how much time you spend driving each day, you want to take good care of your vehicle and not waste your hard-earned money on unneeded repair bills. So if you find yourself doing any of these bad habits listed above, think about the money you will save if you break them.