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Seven Driving Habits Damaging Your Vehicle

Date: Thu 29th March 2018   |   Author: L Blake

How many of these bad driving habits do you have?

Many people spend a lot of money on their cars. So it’s understandable that you’d want the longest lifespan possible from your vehicle. However, you may be unaware that your driving habits could be affecting your car’s lifespan, causing you to fork out for unnecessary costs and repairs. Read on to discover the common driving habits that you should aim to avoid.

1. Resting your hand on the gear stick

You probably don’t realise, but keeping your hand on your gear stick whilst driving can damage your car's transmission over time. When learning to drive your instructor will have told you to hold the wheel with both hands. This not only improves your safety behind the wheel, but it also prevents unnecessary pressure on the gears.

The mechanisms in the gears are designed to deal with the normal forces applied during a gear change. However, these mechanisms cannot deal with the extra force applied when resting your hand on the gearstick. Doing so can acelerate  wear on the gears. Therefore, you should drop this driving habit to not only increase your car’s lifespan but to also prevent paying unnecessary and potentially large repair costs. 

2. Forgetting to regularly wash the exterior

It might not quite be a bad driving habit, but regular cleaning can certainly affect the lifespan and health of your vehicle over time. We’ve all been there, you plan on cleaning your car for months, but getting around to it can feel like a real chore. By not cleaning your vehicle you’re causing a layer of dirt to build up which can be hazardous to the car’s paintwork.

Furthermore, allowing sap and bird droppings to settle on your car will destroy your paint even faster. Therefore, a good driving habit is to remember to take your vehicle on regular trips to the car wash.

3. Not remembering to check the oil

Forgetting to check your vehicle oil or continuously putting it off for another day can have disastrous consequences. Oil acts as an essential lubricant in your engine, as it allows metals to be pressed against each other without causing any damage. Without enough oil friction in your engine can cause parts to overheat and become damaged.

By regularly checking your engine oil you can also identify leaks before they cause more serious issues for your car. Therefore it is recommended you frequently check your vehicle's oil and change the oil every 12,000 miles. For more information on how to change your vehicle's oil, click here. 

4. Speed bumps and potholes

Another bad driving habit is hitting speed bumps too hard. This can cause damage to your vehicle's front and rear suspension as well as the underside of the car. It can also potentially damage the exhaust system, which is costly to fix. Therefore it is recommended to slow right down when approaching a speed bump.

Similarly, you should also be careful when driving over potholes. Potholes actually cause one third of all vehicle damage, so driving over them should be avoided where possible. However, driving in wet conditions or during night time makes spotting potholes more difficult. The impact of driving over a pothole can include buckled wheels, lumps in the tyre and cracked alloys, as well as affecting the tracking and wheel balance. Therefore, to increase your car’s lifespan and prevent unnecessary damage, you should be extra vigilant when driving over poor road surfaces.

car driving towards speed bump


5. Riding the clutch

Riding the clutch at traffic lights or in traffic can become a driving habit that could potentially reduce the life of your clutch. You can avoid doing this by putting the handbrake on and returning your car to neutral when you stop. Overtime, frequently riding the clutch will put unnecessary pressure on your vehicle, causing the need for a new clutch ahead of schedule. 

6. Neglecting warning lights

Neglecting warning lights is not just a bad driving habit, it can also be very dangerous. Many modern dashboards can be confusing. So once you change vehicle, it is useful to familiarise yourself with the location of each warning light and what they mean. By doing this, you’ll be able to recognise whether you are safe to carry on driving. For more information about where your warning lights are located and what they represent, you should check your owner’s manual.

7. Braking downhill

Continuously braking downhill rather than using a low gear is also considered a bad driving habit. Although you may believe you’re saving money and petrol by opting to use the brake, rather than accelerator, by doing so you’re increasing the risk of overheating the brakes. Replacing vehicle brakes is often costly. Therefore, you should use a low gear while driving downhill.

We hope you found this blog post help in understanding which bad habits could shorten the life of your vehicle. There are plenty more helpful articles on the AutoProtect Engage page that answer all of your vehicle and driving queries.