Bad driving habits are prematurely destroying your vehicle, but you can stop it by changing your behavior on the road. Knowing how to drive properly and stopping these eight bad driving (and parking) habits can better protect your vehicle and get more years out of it.
1. Not Avoiding Potholes
Potholes are a fact of life, and avoiding them is good for your car. Think of them as the reverse speed bump. Not avoiding them can result in damage to your vehicle, so eyes on the road and avoid as many potholes as you can before you end up spending lots of money on repairs or a new vehicle.
2. Driving Too Fast Over Speed Bumps
One of the biggest safe driving tips you can adopt is to drive slowly over speed bumps. They are designed to damage your car if you take them too quickly, but their purpose serves the community. By properly slowing down (even for a small one with no one around), you can protect your vehicle, save yourself a ticket, and potentially avoid hitting someone or something in a pedestrian-friendly zone.
3. Not Using Your Parking Brake
The only part of your vehicle that is specifically designed to keep your car parked is your parking brake. Not using it is common and far too many of us do this because our cars stay in park when we put it into that gear, right? In reality not using your parking brake is putting a lot of stress and wear on your vehicle, and to keep it in great condition for as long as possible you are going to want to use your parking break in every condition, not just on hills or bumpy roads.
4. Not Maintaining Your Vehicle When the Lights Go On
If you see a maintenance light go on, get your car checked as soon as possible. Changing the oil is a fast and easy thing to do and it prolongs the life of your vehicle. All issues that your car warns you of are easier and faster to fix right from the start than if you allow them to fester.
5. Driving Until Your Gas Tank is Almost Empty
Yes, driving tank indicators are wrong. They’re very wrong. You might have 50 miles left in your gas tank before you hit empty, but that isn’t the only reason to have gas in your car. Gas also acts as a coolant, so when your gas tank runs empty, it can lead your car to overheat or even malfunction — driving too often on empty means that your catalytic converter, fuel system, and the fuel pump could all become damaged. The danger is even greater if you run on empty.
6. Immediately Changing from Reverse to Drive
You need to come to a complete stop before you change gears from reverse into drive and vice versa. This applies to manual vehicles and automatic vehicles. Not taking this extra step can damage your transmission, and in some cases, even beyond repair. If you have done this in the past, get it taken in for a checkup and transmission service ASAP and start taking those few extra seconds to come to a complete stop.
7. Not Checking Your Vehicle Regularly
Small issues are easy to fix and easy on the budget. We’ve already gone over how you need to take your vehicle in once an indicator light turns on, but in this case, you are going to want to check the car for yourself. Check the air pressure in your tires, check the body of your vehicle, check to make sure all the lights work – these issues can become worse over time if you don’t fix them (rust, for example), and in other cases, adopting this new habit is key to saving yourself a ticket.
8. Not Keeping Your Vehicle Clean in Winter
You don’t need to wash your car every morning and night during winter, but you do need to keep it as free of slush buildup. Consider hosing it down every once in a while or getting if buffed before and during the winters – road salt can be very damaging to your vehicle and lead to rust buildup over time.
A small change you can make right now is to simply take the windshield scraper and brush you keep in your car and knocking off any of that salt-filled slush buildup from behind your wheels.
Your vehicle can last you over a decade and more if taken care of properly, especially if it doesn’t have too many advanced safety issues or computer systems in place. Safe driving, good habits and keeping your car clean are all great methods in keeping your vehicle free from damage.