Owning a car can get pretty expensive, but it’s almost a necessity in this day and age. There are quite a few common mistakes people make that tend to wear down their car over time and result in them spending more money on repairs. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be expensive! Once you’re aware of these mistakes, you’ll be able to stop yourself from doing them and save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
NOT CORRECTLY USING THE PARKING BRAKE
Even when you park on flat ground, it’s a good idea to use your parking brake. Why? Because when you don’t engage the parking brake (especially on hills), you’re resting the entire weight of your vehicle on a small piece of metal in the transmission called the parking pawl. Because this piece is about the size of your finger, it’ll wear out, and it could eventually break from holding all that weight. Be sure to use your parking brake to keep that transmission component in good condition.
LETTING YOUR GAS TANK GET TOO LOW
It can be easy to put off filling up your gas tank until it’s close to empty. A lot of us do it often. What you may not know is that keeping your gas tank above a quarter tank can save you money in the long run. Many fuel pumps are kept cool by being submerged in your fuel tank. When you let your fuel levels drop too low, this can cause damage to your fuel pump. So, try to keep your gas tank above a quarter tank, and your car will be better off for it.
SHIFTING SUDDENLY FROM REVERSE TO DRIVE
It’s probably happened to you before. You’re backing out onto a road, and suddenly a car rounds the bend. You quickly shift the car from reverse to drive and take off. Doing this may not seem like a big deal, but sudden direction changes like this can damage your drivetrain. Instead of shifting suddenly, make sure your vehicle comes to a full stop before you put your car into drive. This only takes a second or two and will prevent engine, transmission, and axle damage.
REVVING YOUR CAR BEFORE THE ENGINE HAS WARMED UP
When you let your car sit for a minute or so after you start it, this gives your car time to distribute oil throughout the engine and get the engine block and engine oil up to temperature. Revving your engine won’t make this warm-up happen faster. What revving your car on a cold engine does do is create sudden temperature changes that cause stress between your engine’s tight-fitting pieces. Take care of your vehicle. Try to give it 60 seconds to warm up before you take off, and your car should be sufficiently warmed up for reliable performance.
FLOORING YOUR CAR
Every car enthusiast gets the urge to stomp on the throttle from time to time. While it may feel a bit exhilarating, the problem is that it’s not very good for your car. Unless you own a Tesla, hard acceleration burns a lot of fuel, and places a lot of pressure on your drivetrain components. Then you also have to hit your brakes hard to slow down, which prematurely wears out your brake pads and rotors. Have you ever felt your car “shudder” to a stop when you’re braking? When you brake too quickly, the heat causes your rotors to warp, which makes for uneven braking. Try to resist the urge to drive like a Nascar driver. If you don’t, you’ll dump a lot more money into car repairs.
RESTING YOUR HAND ON THE SHIFTER
It can be a lot of fun to drive a manual transmission car, and it feels right to rest your hand on the shifter knob in between shifting. However, when you do this, it puts strain on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers, which leads to premature wear. Try to keep both hands on the steering wheel instead, especially because then you have more control if you have to make a sudden steering maneuver.
RIDING THE BRAKES WHILE GOING DOWNHILL
While sometimes it’s necessary to brake while going downhill so you don’t pick up too much speed, try to avoid doing this when you don’t need to. Braking while going down a hill causes your brake pads and rotors to heat up, which causes added wear and makes it likely that these components will overheat or warp. Instead, try to shift into a lower gear if you can. This natural decompression will help you keep your car at a safe speed, and reduce the wear on your brake components. This way, when you really do need your brakes, they’ll be smoother and much more effective.
NEGLECTING YOUR VEHICLE’S SIGNS
When something is wrong with your car, the chances are that it will give you hints before it all goes haywire. Get any strange vibrations, intermittent squeaks, odd smells, and other symptoms checked out right away. There have been many instances where people ignore a warning sign and end up having to pay more money in the end, because when the worn-out component breaks, it causes damage in other parts of the vehicle as well. Address your car problems as soon as you discover them, and ’you’ll prevent other things from going wrong as well. Plus, the longer you wait to repair something, the higher the chances are that it’ll break and leave you stranded on the side of a road.
If your car is exhibiting warning signs or you’re due for a regular service, get in touch with our expert mechanics and call today!