10 bad habits that could be inadvertently damaging your car

Indiscretions could shorten the life of your car or land you with hefty repair bills

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 07:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 14:48 pm

We all have them - those little bad habits that creep into our driving over the years.

Some come about through laziness, some from taking bad advice from other drivers and some slip in without us even noticing.

But some bad habits could be damaging your car, shortening the life of components and driving you towards serious repair bills.

To snap drivers out of their indiscretions, the team at CarShop has revealed 10 common driving habits that can damage your car - and why you should avoid them.

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1. Flooring the accelerator in a high gear

Many cars have a gear shift indicator which suggests when to change gears. However, this indicator is usually based on the assumption that you’ll be cruising at the same speed, and isn’t always accurate if you’re continuing to accelerate. If you find you’re having to floor the accelerator in a high gear, you should shift down a gear for more power. Flooring the accelerator in a high gear means your engine is working extremely hard, which puts a lot of strain on your motor.

2. Overloading your car

While this may seem obvious, you might not realise how easy it is to overload your car. If you’ve got four passengers and luggage, it’s likely your car is already overloaded. Overloading your car puts strain on your brakes, engine, gearbox and suspension. It can result in you having less control of your vehicle, and may also lead to very costly repairs.

3. Resting your hand on the gear stick

In short, your gear stick is attached to what’s called a “selector fork” inside your transmission, which makes contact with rotating metal components every time you select a gear. When you rest your hand on the gear stick, this pressure may force the selector fork into the rotating components for a prolonged period, when you’re not even changing gear, causing it to wear out much more quickly than it usually would.

4. Riding the clutch

“Riding the clutch” refers to keeping your clutch partially pressed in. You’re most likely to do this when you’re in a queue of traffic, when you’re gently pressing and releasing the clutch to creep forward and stop rather than braking. The reason this is bad for your car is that it causes unnecessary friction between the clutch plate and flywheel - which could lead your clutch kit to an early grave and leave you with some costly repair fees.

5. Shifting into reverse before stopping

In manual cars, if you put your car into reverse whilst still moving slightly forward, you will have to use the clutch more for your car to begin reversing - which adds more wear to your clutch and drivetrain. However, this is an even bigger problem in automatic cars, as it’s problematic for the transmission and will wear the transmission band considerably more.

6. Driving your car before it’s warmed up

You shouldn’t turn on your car and immediately drive as it won’t have warmed up properly. This only takes a few seconds in modern cars, but in older cars this can take much longer. Once you turn your car on, you should watch your rev counter - your car will run at a high idle before dropping down to a lower RPM. Only after your RPM has dropped should you set off, as this means the oil has had time to properly lubricate the components in your engine.

7. Keeping the clutch depressed when stationary

Many drivers will wait at a traffic light with first gear engaged and the clutch depressed - but this is causing unnecessary wear on your clutch. When you don’t need to use the clutch pedal, don’t. It’s much better to put your car in neutral and use your handbrake while you’re stationary.

8. Braking just before a speed bump

Slamming on the brakes at just before a speed bump can cause a variety of issues (Photo: Shutterstock)

When you apply your brakes your car nosedives and compresses the suspension in your car. Whilst doing this, if you go over a speed bump, you run a high risk of the underside of your car grazing the bump. The bump also forces your wheels upwards which further compresses your suspension, adding unnecessary strain. Adjust your speed well before approaching a speed bump to avoid this.

9. Forgetting oil changes

Not changing your oil regularly has a large impact on your engine - as old oil becomes less and less efficient when it comes to lubricating its components, potentially leading to excessive wear in the engine. Check you car's servicing schedule and stick to it to avoid creating long-term problems.

10. Forgetting to check tyre pressure

You should regularly check the pressure of your tyres. Over inflated tyres decrease contact with road surface, which severely reduces control and handling. Under inflated tyres cause too much friction and leave you at risk of your tyres popping or “blowing out” - which could cause a severe accident.