Is your driving damaging your car?

Top tips to avoid wear and tear

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Passing the driving test in Ireland

Are your driving habits causing damage to your car?

Did you know that some of your driving habits could be damaging your car? Liberty Insurance point out you could be costing yourself money by crunching gears or leaving barbells in the boot. If you want to reduce wear and tear on your car, take a look at our list of habits you should avoid while driving, you might be surprised!

1. Slamming on the brakes
Sometimes it’s unavoidable but slamming on the breaks incessantly will contribute to your brake pads wearing down very quickly. Instead, try driving at the speed limit which will allow you to anticipate unexpected events or obstacles in time and adjust your speed accordingly.

2. Dragging the brakes
To avoid increased wear and tear on brake pads and discs when driving downhill, it’s best to shift into lower gear and apply light braking. Just breaking alone will put considerable pressure on your brake pads.

3. Riding the clutch in a manual car
When a driver keeps the clutch partially pressed down while the car is in motion, it pushes the pressure pad against the clutch plate, but doesn't engage completely. This creates more friction and will lead to premature wear on your clutch. Instead, remove your foot completely off the pedal after changing gears or when taking off from a hill start. Adjust your seat position before you start your engine, if you need more leg room to comfortably put your foot down on the floor of the car.

4. Speeding over speed bumps and potholes
You may think you are saving time but hitting a pothole at high speed could leave you stranded with a buckled wheel. Other problems could include cracked alloys, damage to the tyre and throwing off the tracking of your tyres. Sometimes hitting a pothole is unavoidable but slowing down on uneven or older roads could improve your chances of being able to see one in time. Failure to slow down at a speed bump could also lead to major damage to the underside of your car, including the exhaust system.

5. Higher gear
If you drive in a higher gear in an attempt to save money on fuel you are actually doing damage to your car. Instead, it causes unnecessary pressure on the cylinder heads and will end up costing you more in the long run.

6. Neglecting dashboard warning lights
If it’s a habit of yours to ignore warnings lights on your dashboard, you could be in for a nasty surprise. The first thing to do if a warning light is illuminated is to look it up in your owner’s manual and check if it is safe to drive. If not call for assistance. If it is something more than windscreen fluid or coolant needing to be topped up, and it is ok to drive, take it to your mechanic to get it looked at. Don’t ignore the warning light, because if you continue to drive it could turn a minor problem into a major issue, causing lasting damage to your car.

7. Abruptly Switching from Reverse to Drive
Always ensure that you have completely stopped the car before you switch from reverse to drive in an automatic car. Shifting gears before coming to a stop will cause wear and tear on the transmission band, rather than the brake discs and pads, which can be easily replaced. Rebuilding or replacing your transmission could potentially cost you thousands of euros.

8. Unnecessary weight
Any extra weight in your car affects its fuel economy and increases stress on the suspension, brakes, and drive train components (components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels). Clear out your car and boot and remove any unnecessary items. Your car will run more efficiently, and you will avoid a mechanic’s bill for repairing the suspension.

9. Revving a cold car
When you are setting out on a journey it’s best to drive at a lower speed for a few minutes to prevent any wear on the engine. If you wait until your car is running at normal operating temperature, your engine oil will have heated up sufficiently and will lubricate all the necessary parts of the engine, thus reducing the risk of damage.

10. Resting your hand on the gearstick
This is a habit that most of us don’t realise we are guilty of. We also might be unaware of the damage we could be causing by idly leaving our hand on the gearstick. The gearstick is connected to the selector fork, which in turn makes contact with one of the rotating collars for a short amount of time as you shift gears. If you rest your hand on the gearstick, you risk applying pressure to the selector fork. This can result in premature wear and lead to an expensive repair job.

Take a look at your own driving and see if you are guilty of any of these habits mentioned above. Some of the habits may seem harmless, however they all contribute to the premature depreciation of your car, so it’s in your best interest to correct them to avoid unnecessary breakdowns.