Everybody wants their car to last as long as possible. With proper maintenance, it’s easy to get modern vehicle past 300,000km, or even farther. But maintenance and proper care of your vehicle are only part of the puzzle.
The way you drive can also have a big impact on how well your major automotive systems, such as your brakes and transmission, hold up to long-term use. In this article, Ride Time will take a look at the 7 worst habits that can damage the longevity of your car – and discuss how you can avoid them. Let’s get started.
1. Not Using The Parking Brake
Most modern cars don’t necessarily require the use of the parking brake, even on very steep hills. However, if you don’t use the parking brake, all of the weight of your car rests on the parking pawl, a small piece of metal inside the transmission that keeps your car from rolling.
Eventually, this can wear out, making the “P” setting on your car useless. Use the parking brake whenever you park – there’s really no reason not to.
Just make sure to deactivate the parking brake whenever you start to drive again, or else you risk warping and damaging the discs and rotors of your brakes.
2. Hauling Around Unnecessary Weight
Every pound that your car hauls around puts extra weight on its drivetrain, suspension, and other systems. You don’t have to make sure your car is totally clean and free of heavy loads – but just make sure you regularly remove heavy items that you don’t need.
For example, there’s no reason to drive around with a trunk full of golf clubs, or your bowling equipment – unless you’re headed to the links, or going out for a night at your bowling league.
3. Not Filling The Gas Tank High Enough
Gas is expensive, so some people only fill their tank up to a quarter or less. However, this can cause serious issues. Many fuel pumps manufactured today are cooled by fuel in the gas tank. If you constantly drive around with only a few gallons in your tank, these components may heat up and wear out quickly – requiring you to replace them at a high cost.
4. Hard “Jackrabbit” Starts – And Stops
Avoiding hard starts and stops is the best way to preserve your engine, drivetrain, and brakes – and increase fuel economy. While it may be fun to step on the gas and accelerate quickly, it uses significantly more fuel than a slow start – and puts more wear on engine components.
The same goes for hard stops. Sometimes, of course, stops from high speed are unavoidable, but they cause more wear to pads and rotors.
Try to drive defensively and steadily. Look ahead, plan ahead, and accelerate (and brake) slowly, coasting whenever possible. This will help preserve your engine, drivetrain, and brakes.
5. Revving A Cold Engine
We know it’s tempting to rev your engine on a cold Winnipeg morning, so that it warms up more quickly. However, doing so causes quite a bit of wear on the engine. Your oil is still sluggish and cold, so it does not lubricate the engine properly.
Idle for a few minutes, but avoid driving too hard, or revving your engine when it’s still cold. This is the best way to avoid damaging your engine in the cold.
6. Switching From Drive To Reverse Too Quickly
Sudden shifts between drive and reverse – such as when you’re rolling back into a tight parking spot – should be avoided. When the drivetrain is reversed quickly, excess strain is put on it, which can cause damage over time.
To prevent this, make sure that your car is completely stopped before you switch from reverse to drive.
7. “Dragging” The Brakes On Long Downhills
On steep downhills, there is a tendency to “rest” your foot on the brake, so you can slow down quickly if you need to.
This can cause heat and strain to build up in your brakes, putting more wear on their components.
Instead, consider shifting into a lower gear when driving downhill. You can do this with most automatics – shift into “3” or “L” instead of “D”. This causes engine braking, slowing your car down naturally because of drivetrain decompression.
This is just as effective at helping you maintain a safe speed, and reduces wear on your brakes.
Follow These Tips – And Get Regular Maintenance – To Keep Your Car In Great Shape!
By avoiding these bad driving habits, you can get quite a bit more life out of your vehicle. Just make sure that you also follow your recommended maintenance guidelines, as set out in your owner’s manual.