The bad habits that could be damaging your car

So, you’ve finally passed your test and your free to hit the open road for the first time on your own. Whether you’re lucky enough to have your own car or are sharing a car with another member of the family, it’s important to be aware of the damage that bad habits can have on your car and the extra cost this could cause you. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common bad habits and how they could be damaging your car.

Keeping your hand on the gearstick

You may think that it’s a good idea to keep your hand on the gearstick ready to select the next gear but resting your hand on the gearstick for a prolonged period of time can actually cause premature wear to your gearbox. When you change gear the selector fork, which is attached to the gearstick, makes contact with a rotating collar for selecting a gear. Placing your hand on the gearstick increases the rate of wear of your gearstick which could add up to an expensive repair bill.

Overloading your car

Not only is overloading your car bad for your fuel efficiency but it also puts an added strain on your engine, suspension and your cars braking system. Always check your owner’s manual for the maximum load weight and avoid taking regular trips that are close to the maximum load weight. It’s surprisingly easy to overload the weight when moving to a new house, going to your local DIY store or even on a family holiday with the car fully laden.

Speed bumps and potholes

Both speed bumps and potholes can damage the underneath of your car as well as the suspension and your wheels. Always slow down for speed bumps to avoid damaging the front and rear end of your car. Where possible avoid pot holes or slow down as much as possible if they are unavoidable. Be extra vigilant at night and when it is wet as potholes can be a lot more difficult to spot.

Don’t ignore warning lights

While some of the lights on the dashboard don’t require urgent action e.g. low washer fluid, bulb warning or tyre pressure, others should not be ignored. Common lights that will need immediate investigation include engine warning light, ABS light, traction control system, oil pressure, and cooling system.

Riding the clutch

Riding the clutch is often a habit that new drivers fall into and happens when they fail to take their foot off the clutch after changing gear. The clutch is designed to last for thousands of miles but keeping your foot on the clutch will shorten its lifespan. Another habit to avoid is coasting either out of gear or with your foot depressed on the clutch. Not only is this bad for the car, if you have your foot on the clutch, but it also means you will have less control of the car.

Driving in a high gear at low speed

Yes, you should short shift and change up early for economy but when accelerating try to avoid staying in a high gear as the engine will be placed under additional strain to accelerate from lower RPMs. Instead drop down a gear to let your engine spin freely at higher RPMs before changing back up a gear.

Engaging reverse before stopping

We’ve all been there. You are rushing to turn around in a busy road or car park and rather than waiting until the car stops you start changing into reverse or first gear prior to stopping fully, normally resulting in a crunching of your gears. As you might have guessed this is not great for your gearbox and will definitely cause damage that will shorten the life of your gearbox.

Hard braking and acceleration

This is definitely a bad habit that you will want to avoid. Heavy braking and hard acceleration will reduce your cars fuel economy as you are failing to plan for the road and traffic conditions and will also cause excessive wear on your tyres, braking system and engine. Drive smoothly and anticipate the road ahead to help improve your economy and prolong the life of your brakes and tyres.