It’s absolutely mind-boggling how many people abuse the cars they spent so much time researching and so much hard-earned money acquiring. There are driving habits that can damage your car; causing it to consume too much fuel, accelerating its need for maintenance, and in some cases even resulting in flat out failures. Here’s a closer look at some common driving no-nos and the damage they can do to your car and your wallet:
1. Driving With A Low Fuel Level
Do you pride yourself on getting every last drop of gas out of your gas tank before filling up? If you do this consistently, you’re wreaking havoc with your fuel system.
You might think you’re saving weight by driving with a light load of fuel, but you’re making your car draw its fuel from the very bottom of the tank—where all of the sediment in the gasoline settles. This pulls the debris into the fuel line where they can clog your fuel filter, and in some cases slip past it into your engine.
When you let your gas level run low, you force your car to use the dirtiest gas in its tank for fuel. The lower your car’s gas level sinks, the more the dirt gets stirred up from the bottom of the tank. Drive on a near-empty tank and you risk this dirt getting into your car’s fuel line and even into the engine. There’s a good chance your car’s fuel filter won’t be able to catch all of it.
If this happens, you’re putting extra strain on the engine. And you’ll need to flush the entire fuel system if it clogs up with dirt. You’re talking a minimum of a couple of hundred dollars if it really jams up the system. At the very least, you’ll need to replace your car’s fuel filter more often. The best advice? Never let your gas level dip too low. Experts suggest always keeping at least a half tank of fuel.
2. Sudden Acceleration and Braking
You might like how it feels to floor your accelerator at a traffic light, then braking hard at the next one to carry your speed as far as possible. It’s positively thrilling. However, all you’re really doing is drawing your next date with a mechanic nearer. Those abrupt starts make your car use way more fuel than is really needed for the trip at hand, and those hard stops are also stressing your braking system big time, along with wearing out your pads and rotors prematurely.
Keep your fuel bills and brake bills in check by becoming a smooth driver. The smoother you drive, the longer everything is going to last. The more smoothly you start and stop, the more life you’ll get out of your car. Anticipate stops whenever you can. Letting your car coast to a stop is a good way to improve your gas mileage.
3. Resting Your Hand On The Shift Lever While The Car Is In Motion
Yes, we know it feels way cool to grip the shift lever while you’re barreling along in your high protein speed machine. Resting your hand on the shift lever preloads the shift fork against the slider while the transmission is spinning. You’ll feel the vibration in the shift lever if you pay attention. When this occurs, the slider wears more rapidly. Which, of course, means—yet another funds transfer to your mechanic.
Resting your hand on the shifter places weight on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers, causing internal wear. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel, and only taking one off to switch gears, is the best idea.
4. Coasting into Gear
Ever roll out of a parking space and pop your car into drive while your car is still coasting backwards? You’re putting stress on the entire drive train and all the metal parts get strained when you do that. The first clue is the clunk you’ll hear as you force your car to change directions too rapidly.
Do this maneuver often enough and you may need to replace your car’s universal joints, or U-joints, which could cost anywhere from $200 to $700. It’s also rough on your transmission, and a new transmission could cost you thousands of dollars. So remember to stop before putting your car in drive or reverse. Simply take that extra moment to make sure you’re completely stopped before switching from reverse to drive.
5. Revving the Engine
This is never a good idea. You’re putting additional stress on the engine itself. Revving is especially bad for your engine if you do it right after you start the car when the engine is cold and all the oil is still down in the oil pan. All those metal parts in an engine that move around aren’t properly lubricated with oil. Repeated revving will damage your engine and it will cost you thousands of dollars to buy a new one.
So be good to your engine. Be as gentle as you can on your engine in the first few minutes of driving. Avoid aggressive driving moves. And never, ever rev your engine.