We are all guilty of a few bad habits, from smoking to biting your nails to leaving the lights on when you leave the house. And your car is no different. Here are a few bad car habits you need to stop — and soon.
1. Sudden Shifting
You reverse out of a spot and without slowing, immediately put it into drive and go on your merry way.
Over time, these sudden directional changes wreak havoc on your drivetrain from the engine to the transmission to your axles. Take the extra three seconds. Completely stop before going forward.
2. Flooring It (and Than Quickly Braking)
We are all guilty. At some point, everyone has hit a wide-open stretch and gunned it. While its fun (and relatively harmless) every once in awhile, doing it all the time is one bad car habit you need to stop.
Inevitably after gunning it, slamming the brakes follows. Neither is great. Fast acceleration burns fuel, but also puts a massive, sudden load on the drivetrain. Braking quickly causes wear to the brake pads and rotors.
It’s best just to resist.
3. Riding the Brakes
Naturally, you pick up speed when traveling down a hill; it is Gravity 101. And remaining at a safe speed requires braking. But, this excess of braking causes heat from the friction of the brake pads and rotors, increasing wear and risk of overheating.
Instead, drive in lower gears when descending. The drivetrain will help slow your car down—without the brakes. Additionally, your brakes are now more effective at the slower speed.
4. Riding the Clutch
The go-to of bad car habits with manual drivers stuck in traffic or stopped on a steep hill: never fully disengaging the clutch, instead of letting it out slightly before immediately pushing it back in.
Keeping the clutch engaged while moving (even if it is just a creep or preventing yourself from rolling backward) wreaks havoc on the plates. The contrast scraping causes early wear. Also, the continuous pushing of the pedal causes damage to release bearings, arms and pressure plates. All of this leads to failing clutch faster than you would like.
While hard not to creep in traffic, pay attention and release the clutch entirely while moving. Can’t handle hills? Practice. Or avoid them. Or get an automatic.
5. Ignoring the Check Engine Light
Installation of Check Engine lights was not for fun; it was a way of indicating something is wrong and needs attention. Drivers ignore it for weeks out of fear of expensive repairs. In fact, 10% of drivers on the road have a Check Engine light on. But, this bad car habit needs to end.
Just because it has been like that for a few weeks without your car breaking down, doesn’t mean something is up. Take it in. At the very least, the Check Engine light came on to let you know something was wrong with your Check Engine light and indicating system.
6. Referring to Your Car as “You Baby” or By Name
It may seem harmless, and in it of itself it is. However, you are giving your car an identity—and a personality.
No, that noise isn’t just what the sound “Sheila” makes when it’s cold out—something is wrong. You baby isn’t getting older; she is breaking down.
Take a step back. If your car makes noises that are new or out of the norm, recognize it for more than a personality defect.
7. Putting in the Bare Minimum of Gas
You’re just scraping by, but you need a little gas to keep you going. We have all been there. But, continually putting in the bare minimum of gas can do more harm than good—and cost you more down the road.
What you don’t know is that fuel pumps stay cooler when submerged in the fuel from the tank. But, if you have less than a quarter this does not happen. You may be saving money now but at the risk of replacing your fuel pump sooner than planned. Better to pay a bit extra now, end this bad car habit and save later.
Keep your car running—and running well. Following general car care guidelines and cutting this bad car habits from your routine will keep your car (and you) on the road longer.