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Bad driving habits that can damage your car

21st November 2022

Bad driving habits that can damage your car

There are a number of bad driving habits that can cause a strain on your car over time. This can result in long-term damage that can become quite costly. We have compiled the most common bad driving habits that drivers may not often be aware of, to help prevent costly repairs and avoid any breakdowns.  

Running on low fuel 

A lot of drivers have run into this bad habit occasionally, particularly when almost approaching their destination. However, running on low fuel can damage your fuel pump and engine as well as putting you at risk of breaking down.  

Revving your engine when cold 

Driving short distances regularly may be bad for your vehicle as there is not enough time for the engine oil to heat up. Though, in reality, all vehicles start from cold. We recommend avoiding revving the engine until it has warmed up. This will allow time for the oil to warm up and circulate around the engine, avoiding any potential damage and unnecessary wear and tear.  

Slamming or dragging your brakes

Sudden braking during an emergency may be essential, however, regularly slamming on your brakes can cause a strain on the braking system. This can wear out your brake pads and discs faster and cost you more fuel. We recommend that you anticipate the road ahead, leave plenty of distance where possible and take a slow and steady approach to braking. 

Dragging your brakes occurs when you apply pressure to the brake pedal for a sustained period. This typically happens when driving down a hill but can often become a bad habit over time. To avoid damage, when the brake pedal is not in use, taking your foot off fully will prevent dragging and allow the brakes to cool down.  

Hitting potholes and speed bumps 

Potholes and speed bumps are all around the UK and can be difficult to avoid, particularly in wet weather or if driving in the dark. The impact of these can cause buckled wheels, lumps in the tyre and cracked alloys. It can also cause damage to your wheel alignment. It is recommended that where possible, to avoid potholes or slow down when approaching both potholes and speed bumps. This can avoid damage to the vehicle’s front, rear, underside and potentially the exhaust system.  

Resting your hand on the gearstick 

Though resting your hand on the gearstick may feel natural, it can be bad for transmission. The gearstick is connected to a selector fork which is designed to contact the rotating collar for a short amount of time, such as when you change gears. Resting your hand on the gearstick will put the fork and collar in constant contact which can lead to premature wear. It is recommended to keep both hands on the wheel to keep the transmission ticking along properly.  

Accelerating in high gear

When you accelerate at low rpm, or in a high gear, the engine is works harder and places unnecessary strain on the motor. Most vehicles have a gear shift indicator light which advises you when to change up or down a gear. Paying close attention to this can increase efficiency and help prolong the life of your engine. We recommend that you change down and allow the revs to rise before changing up, especially when carrying heavy loads or climbing hills.  

Resting your foot on the clutch 

Also known as riding the clutch, this is when a driver fails to remove their foot off the clutch pedal after changing gears or when attempting to do a hill start. Poor clutch control can cause excessive wear and tear. We recommend that you to ensure your foot is off the clutch pedal and use the clutch footrest if your vehicle has one fitted. When performing hill starts, leave the car in neutral with the handbrake on until you’re ready to move. 

Overloading your car 

Although modern vehicles can hold more weight, you should still avoid overloading them to help fuel economy and emissions output as well as prevent strain on your suspension. If you plan on using your vehicle for a road trip or house move, we recommend consulting your owner’s manual to check the car’s maximum weight.  

Ignoring warning lights 

The warning lights on your dashboard are there to alert you if a problem has occurred. Although some warnings can wait until you have stopped driving, there may be some warning lights that need addressing right away. It is recommended to consult your vehicle handbook to familiarise yourself with them all.  

Delaying regular maintenance 

Some drivers tend to put off regular servicing as they think it’s something that can wait due to time or cost. Regularly servicing your vehicle can help maintain its performance and ensure your vehicle runs as it should. 

Here at Merityre, all our specialists offer a range of car servicing options to cater for the needs of all motorists. Book in for a service at your local Merityre branch or contact our friendly team to find out more. Make sure to check out our gold club for a 10% discount on servicing and more – sign up today and start saving.