There’s no denying it: we all have our vices. For reasons unknown, damaging behaviour is something that humans seem unable to avoid, and in many cases we can develop bad habits that become so deeply ingrained they eventually become second nature to us. This goes for driving too. Many of us pick up all kinds of dodgy driving techniques during our first few months on the road, and these can actually play a considerable role in the sudden rise of hefty repair bills as our cars bear the brunt of our bad practices. And just to be clear, the bad practices mentioned within this article are in relation to the health of your vehicle, not the tolerance of drivers and passers by as in this case (that will be a whole new article!):
Below, we’ve outlined the five worst habits that you need to kick in order to keep your car fit and healthy.
Refusing To Fuel Up
Putting fuel into your car is a chore isn’t it? And an expensive chore at that. We live very busy lives nowadays, and parking up at the petrol pump to spend time putting a big chunk of money into our vehicles to keep them running just isn’t that appealing. That’s why so many of us tend to fill up our cars just enough to get by for the next few days. A quick little stop at the pump, a small payment, and off we go.
Unfortunately, this refusal to fill up all the way to the top is extremely damaging to your vehicle. By constantly keeping your fuel level at the lowest mark, you’re forcing your car to draw on the dregs at the bottom of the fuel barrel – causing it to soak up abrasive sediments. This can play havoc with your fuel filter and cause obstructions that may force your car to grind to a halt, so next time you visit the garage to fuel up, take your time and send that fuel ticker all the way to the top.
Resting Your Hand On The Gears
A lot of us do this. It’s comfortable and, let’s face it, kind of cool to rest your hand on the gear stick whilst you’re driving, plus it puts you in a great position when you’re constantly having to move up and down gears when you’re stuck in a bit of traffic.
That said, leaving your hand in this position is a habit you need to get out of – and fast. Constantly clutching the gear stick actually grinds the slider mechanism, which can lead to the gearbox becoming severely damaged over time. If you’ve never had to have a gearbox replaced, you certainly don’t want to start now. It isn’t a cheap repair by any means.
Lugging Around Your Life In Your Backseat
It can feel pretty convenient turning your car into a second home. A few spare set of clean clothes on the backseat. Stuff for work. Maybe even some fishing gear, sports equipment or toys for the kids to play with whenever you pick them up from school.
However, whilst it might seem practical to keep your car loaded up with everything you might need at a moment’s notice, the weight it imposes on your vehicle can place a real strain on the mechanisms. A heavy car will also guzzle more gas than normal in order to compensate for the added weight, meaning your average spend on fuel will skyrocket. Do yourself a favour and clean out your vehicle before you hit the road. You’ll be thankful for it in the long run.
Riding The Pedals
You might think there’s no harm in being prepared to change gear at a moment’s notice, and that hovering your feet over the brake pedal in anticipation of halting your vehicle is a good thing. But there’s fine line between having control over your car and actually causing it damage. Riding the clutch and brake pedals might feel like a good habit, but in fact it’s quite the opposite.
When you rest your feet on the clutch, you risk pulling the pressure plate away from the flywheel, causing temperatures to rise and impose wear and tear on the clutch mechanism. When you spend your drive tapping the brakes, a similar thing happens: the pads rub against the rotors and the effectiveness of the brakes begin to diminish.
Whilst there’s no harm whatsoever in being prepared on the road, you should take active care to keep your feet off the pedals whenever you go out for a spin. Keep your left leg on the resting place alongside the clutch, and stop yourself hovering over the brake pedal as much as you can.
Aggressively Warming Up The Car In Cold Weather
Winter can be a real burden when you’re a vehicle owner. Freezing temperatures often mean you’re forced to pull out the ice scraper in the mornings and spend a good few minutes rubbing your hands together with the air conditioning on full blast. However, the big problem lies in warming up the vehicle engine itself.
A lot of us are in the habit of revving the engine in an attempt to “get the car going” on a cold winter’s morning, but in reality this does a heck of a lot more harm than good. Holding your foot on the accelerator creates sudden temperature changes that can give your vehicle a nasty shock, burning the engine before the oil in the tank has even had the chance to circulate. Let your car warm up on its own rather than aggressively heating it yourself.