Damage to your car begins accumulating the moment you drive it off the lot. We all know this, but there are ways to speed up this damage without even realizing it, setting yourself up for some hefty repair bills in the future. Unfortunately, many of the following are common habits, and Milex Complete Auto Care technicians see drivers unwittingly shortening the lives of their cars every day. Here are some of the worst habits we’ve seen, and how you can turn them around to prevent damage to your car.
Driving Habit: Letting gas get too low
The temptation to drive with a low gas level is pervasive. After all, who wants to take time out of their day to fuel up, or spend the money to do it? Unfortunately, letting your gas level get too low can damage your car in the long term. Here’s why: Over time, sediment can build up in the bottom of your fuel tank. This is fine, provided your gas level doesn’t get too low. But once your fuel injection system starts draining from the bottom of your tank, it can pick up this sediment, and it can get caught further along the fuel system, even in the engine. This sediment tears up the inside of your fuel system and engine, ultimately requiring expensive repairs.
Maintenance Habit: Going too long between oil changes
Yeah, we get it — you’d rather do anything but get an oil change. But your engine oil serves a vital purpose in your vehicle, and waiting too long to get it changed is asking for trouble. Your oil cools the engine, cleans engine parts and lubricates the engine as it passes through your drivetrain. As a result, the oil becomes dirty, and it can no longer perform these functions well. Oil can also burn off, which can quickly deplete your car’s oil reserves and leave you broken down on the highway. So, make sure you know your car’s service intervals, and get your oil replaced before the wear and tear adds up.
Driving Habit: Rapid Acceleration & Braking
You might feel like a racecar driver, but your little family car is not equipped for quick maneuvers or sudden changes in speed. Your car is designed for safety first, which means that precision, handling and other advantages that performance vehicles possess are completely foreign to your car. Rapid acceleration can cause damage all along your drivetrain, and braking too rapidly can wear down your brake pads and cause them to overheat, which will reduce their effectiveness as you drive. In the end, moves like this can cause rapid wear and tear on your car, which earns you no street cred, no adoring fans at the car show — just a hefty bill at the automotive shop.
Maintenance Habit: Carrying Too Much Extra Cargo
Always Be Prepared. It’s the motto of the Boy Scouts, but it doesn’t have to apply to your commute each day. How many of the things in your car do you need on a daily basis? If you can purge your car of any extra weight it might be carrying, you’ll probably end up relieving some of the burden on your vehicle. This will ultimately reduce the amount of work your engine has to do to accelerate and make braking easier. It will also protect your suspension system by reducing the resistance it meets as it navigates your car over rough or uneven roads.
Driving Habit: Not Using the Parking Brake
Because it is also known as the emergency brake, many people only associate the parking brake with situations in which they have to brake suddenly. But using the parking brake every time you turn off your car’s ignition, even if you aren’t parked on an incline, will protect your car’s transmission. Even if you drive a car with automatic transmission, when you park without engaging the parking brake, the weight of your car rests on a single piece of the transmission system, called the parking pawl. The parking brake, once engaged, can distribute your car’s weight more evenly, and keep your transmission safe from damage.
Maintenance Habit: Ignoring Subtle Warnings
If you begin hearing odd noises from your car, smelling odors or feeling a difference in your car’s handling, you could be one of the lucky few who gets a warning before a major problem with your vehicle. Don’t waste this opportunity! Quickly report what you’re experiencing to your trusted automotive technician, so they can evaluate the issue and recommend a course of action to prevent extensive damage. Simple preventive maintenance could keep you from getting stranded on the side of the road.
It can be easy to think that your bad car habits are no big deal. That’s because most of them cause damage over a long stretch of time. But trust us, letting these behaviors continue can be disastrous down the line. Don’t let some easily-fixed habits ruin your car before its time. Visit your local Milex Complete Auto Care or Mr. Transmission for routine maintenance and tips on how to preserve your car’s good health.