No matter how safe you are behind the wheel, you’ve probably done things like:
- Shift into drive while the car is still rolling backward.
- Ride the brakes on steep hills.
- Roll into the gas station on empty.
Guilty? If so, you may not have even realized you were doing anything wrong. After all, most everybody has a bad driving habit or two. But, most everybody doesn’t have to pay for your auto repairs. You do.
So, take a look at these seven driving habits that are bad for your car, and learn why you should avoid them. It may be time to change the way you drive!
- Running on empty. You might enjoy living on the edge, but driving around without much gas can put your car’s fuel pump on edge, too. That won’t necessarily ruin your car, but having to replace your fuel pump probably will hurt your checkbook. Keep your tank at least a quarter full.
- Shifting too soon. If you have an automatic transmission, it’s easy to pop the car into drive while it’s still rolling in reverse. Don’t! Unless you want to put additional stress on your transmission, that is. Come to a stop, then shift.
- Braking too much. Following other cars too closely can wear your brakes and rotors out more quickly, because you’ll probably have to use them more than other drivers. (Of course, you should maintain an adequate following distance for safety reasons, too.) But, even in situations where braking seems unavoidable, such as going down a steep hill, you have another option: Shifting into a lower gear will slow you down without riding the brakes.
- Gunning it. Maybe you drive a fast car. Or, maybe you want to feel like you drive a fast car. Whatever kind of car you have, punching the gas from a stop can be hard on it, and even more so if the car is cold and the oil hasn’t fully dispersed throughout the engine. Those fast starts mean faster wear on your tires, too.
- Forgetting the parking brake. Do you know what holds your car in park? One small piece of metal in the transmission. Not using the parking brake puts more stress on that bit of metal. So, use it.
- Packing on the pounds. Just like with your body, extra weight puts stress on several different areas of your car. So, clean out that trunk and remove unnecessary items from the interior. Your suspension, brakes and transmission will thank you. Thanks to better gas mileage, your bank account will, too.
- Holding down the clutch. Have a manual transmission? Keep the car in neutral at intersections so you don’t need to press the clutch until you’re ready to roll. Riding the clutch is a great way to burn it out eventually.
Even if you don’t do anything on this list, you’re still not out of the woods. (But you’re probably closer than most of us.) Keep your ears and eyes open for strange noises, warning lights or anything out of the ordinary — and don’t ignore them. Inspect the issue, or get your car to a mechanic, before it becomes a bigger problem.