Most of us think we’re above-average—maybe even great—drivers. But there’s more to being a good driver than seamlessly merging onto a busy highway. Bad driving habits are common, and they can do slow and steady damage to your car without you even realizing it. Don’t wait until it is too late to change your ways. Here are 6 bad habits that could be hurting your car that you can kick today:
1. Putting Off Repairs
A common scenario: You go in for an oil change and your mechanic notices some wear and tear that will need to be repaired. Rather than spend more money than you bargained for to get the problem fixed on the spot, you choose to put off the repairs.
The problem here is that if you wait to get a repair done it will only get worse and more expensive to fix. If you can’t afford to do all the repairs right away, ask your mechanic what repairs can’t wait and get a quote for the rest. Then you’ll know how much you need to save in order to get your car back in tip-top shape.
2. Running on Empty
When you’re low on dough, one way to spread out your paycheck is by filling up just $10 or $15 worth of gas at a time. Unfortunately, constantly driving with a quarter tank or less can have bad repercussions for your fuel pump and filter.
A full gas tank keeps the fuel pump cool. If your tank isn’t full you run the risk of the fuel pump heating up and wearing out prematurely. Replacing a fuel pump is a lot costlier than filling up your tank. Keeping your gas tank more than a ¼ full can save hundreds of dollars in the long run.
3. Carrying a Heavy Keychain
If you carry around a keychain with 30 keys, a wallet, your cell phone, and everything but the kitchen sink attached to it, you might want to keep reading. Using a heavy keychain when driving your car can destroy the cars ignition switch over time.
The extra weight of the keychain pulling down on the ignition combined with the force of going over bumps and hills will slowly start to wear out the tumblers in the ignition switch. This can be expensive to repair. In order to prevent this, either use a separate keychain for your car keys and everything else, or use a quick release keychain so you can pop your car keys off before you start driving.
4. Neglecting the Parking Brake
Whether you’re parked on a hill or flat land, there is no reason not to use your car’s parking brake. When you park a car with an automatic transmission without using the parking brake, a device called the parking pawl is engaged. A parking pawl is small piece of metal inside the transmission that restricts the output shaft from turning.
Without the parking brake engaged, that small piece of metal has to hold all the weight of your car. While rare, the parking pawl can break causing the car to roll away. By always using your parking brake you can assure that even if the pawl does break, your car will stay in place.
5. Riding the Brakes
Driving down a series of steep hills can be frightening, so some drivers choose to rest their foot on the brake to avoid gaining too much speed. Brakes create an enormous amount of friction when slowing down a vehicle, and friction creates heat.
Normally the heat caused by the friction dissipates quickly. When riding your brakes, however, this heat can cause the brake fluid to boil. When the brake fluid boils it creates gas bubbles that will prevent pressure from building in the system and cause the brakes to fail. In order to avoid this, shift down going down hills instead. If you must break, tap lightly on the pedal quickly rather than holding it down.
7. Weighing Down Your Car
Everyone knows that person who has a trunk full of heavy items “just in case.” It’s good to be prepared—especially when there’s a risk of wintry conditions—but extra weight can put added stress on your suspension, handling, brakes, and drivetrain, causing them to wear out faster.
Keep your car’s load on the light side by only carrying with you the essentials. Give your trunk a good clean out and consider taking out that box of beach supplies you never use. As an added bonus, carrying less weight helps you get better gas mileage.
Next time you hit the road, try to pay attention to your driving habits. Avoiding the bad ones can save you money and keep your car on the road for longer.
Chris Triplett is the President and founder of Camera Source, an online retailer of quality home security, automotive, and commercial camera systems. Camera Source not only innovates new products that adapt to an ever changing OEM market, but they are a top re-seller of many high quality automotive accessory brands.