Source: Driver Trainer

Close up of woman change speed holding hand on gearbox in the car.

Bad habits sneaking into our driving can be a common thing after years behind the wheel.

Whether we are oblivious to doing them or choose to turn a blind eye, these habits can have far-reaching consequences.

While individuals may think their driving habits are unimportant, the truth is that some practices can harm your car and result in expensive trips to the mechanic.

How many of the following bad habits are you guilty of?

1. Engine braking or shifting gears to reduce speed

It’s extremely tempting to use engine braking or downshifting to slow down your car, but there’s a high chance this can actually harm your drivetrain, specifically the clutch and transmission.

Depending too much on your gears for braking, especially at higher speeds, can lead to premature wear and a shorter engine lifespan.

It is best to lightly press the brake pedals when slowing down.

2. Hitting potholes and speed bumps

Your car may suffer severe damage from potholes, which are a major cause of reported car damage. These road hazards can cause misalignment problems, fractured alloys, bent wheels, and tyre bulges.

Potholes should be avoided wherever feasible to protect the well-being of your car. Similar damage can be done to the front and back of your car, as well as the undercarriage and exhaust system, by driving over speed bumps without slowing down.

3. Revving the engine when cold

Regularly taking short journeys won’t harm your car as long as you wait until the engine is warmed up before revving it. Allowing an engine to warm up before starting it will allow the oil to flow properly, preventing potential damage and needless wear and tear.

4. Resting your hand on the gearstick

As seasoned drivers, we occasionally develop the bad habit of resting our hand on the gearstick. However, the transmission may suffer as a result of this seemingly harmless action. A selector fork that is attached to the gear stick interacts with a spinning collar.

The selector fork may become prematurely worn if your hand is placed on the gearstick and applies pressure to it. Take note of your owner’s manual, as some specifically advise against resting your hand on the gearstick.

5. Shifting from drive to reverse before stopping

Shifting between reverse and drive (and vice versa) without coming to a complete stop is detrimental to the transmission for those with automatic transmissions.

It’s best to let the brakes handle the stopping since automatic transmissions are designed to shift gears. Premature gear changes can damage the transmission band, requiring a more expensive repair than keeping the brake pads and discs in good condition.

The same is true with manual transmissions, where it is best to completely stop before shifting into reverse.

6. Ignoring warning lights

There are many warning lights on modern dashboards, each of which denotes a particular problem. While certain issues, like low washer fluid or a blown bulb, can wait, others need to be dealt with right away.

Learn the meaning of each warning light in your owner’s manual so you can give the most serious ones priority. If any dashboard warnings, such as those for the cooling system, airbag, power steering, engine/ECU, brake system, or oil pressure, occur, it is best to stop the car and call your breakdown service or a reputable mechanic for assistance.

7. Overloading your vehicle

Modern vehicles are built to carry high loads, but it’s important to stay under their maximum load weight. To find out the recommended weight limit for your car, consult your owner’s manual. Your brakes, suspension, and drivetrain are put under increasing strain as your load increases.

Additionally, keep in mind that packing lightly might save your journey time and emissions by reducing the amount of unneeded stuff in your car’s boot.

8. Riding the clutch

In addition to being a dangerous habit, continuously riding the clutch is regarded as “wear and tear” and is often not covered by warranties. In addition, when executing hill starts, apply the handbrake while the car is in neutral until you are ready to drive. Avoid keeping your foot on the clutch pedal after changing gears.

9. Flooring the accelerator in a high gear

Modern cars often come equipped with gear shift indicators that suggest when to shift gears for optimal fuel efficiency. Be aware of the downshift sign, though, as accelerating quickly at low rpm or in a high gear makes your engine work harder and puts extra strain on the motor.

Especially while hauling large loads or climbing hills, remember to downshift and let the revs rise before shifting up.

10. Late braking

Emergency stops may occasionally be inevitable, but frequent late braking puts additional stress on your braking system and accelerates the wear on your brake pads and discs. It also negatively affects fuel consumption.

In addition to being better for your car, adopting a more cautious and anticipatory driving style that allows for gradual and early braking also makes for a safer and more environmentally friendly driving experience.

11. Running on empty

Especially when we’re getting close to home, we’ve all felt the urge to drive with the fuel light on. Although it may appear innocent, this habit can ruin your fuel pump and engine.

Any material that has accumulated over time may mix with the remaining petrol when your fuel tank is almost empty. When this mixture is circulated through your car, it could clog important parts like the fuel pump and filter.

Furthermore, the results could be disastrous if you push your luck and run out of petrol. You’ll not only have to deal with the annoyance of breaking down, but you’ll also endanger other drivers and yourself.