The Anatomy of Healthy Cars: A Service and Repair Blog

Driving habits that lead to costly repair bills

by Brittany Marshall

People acquire different driving habits the more they drive. Unfortunately, not all of these habits are good. Some of them can affect the well being of your car, while others will make it more likely for your vehicle to require costly maintenance. The following are driving habits you should avoid to help save money and maintain your car.

Resting Your Hand on the Gearbox

Resting your hand on the gearstick is a driving habit to avoid. Gear sticks are connected to synchronizers and gears. If you keep applying pressure to the gear by resting your arm on it, then you'll end up displacing the synchronizers and having trouble shifting between gears.

It doesn't stop there. The pressure also leads to shifting difficulty and, ultimately, transmission damage. Another obvious reason to avoid this habit is that, as a driver, you need both hands on the driving wheel in order to steer safely.

Frequent Braking

Changing your brake hoses and brake pads is essential to making sure your vehicle is roadworthy. It is also important to monitor your brake fluid level. However, braking is a skill that needs to be mastered. If you keep braking unnecessarily, you will quickly use up your brake pads.

Frequent braking can be avoided by learning good braking habits like how to position your foot in relation to the brake pedal, and the amount of pressure to exert on the pedal when preparing to slow down. Smooth, gradual movements are always better than slamming in the brakes.

Parking Without the Handbrake

It is also not advisable to park your car on a hill or steep slope without applying the handbrake. If you do this, you will rest the entire burden on the lock gear in your gearbox. This applies to both automatic and manual transmission cars.

To avoid this, car manufacturers and mechanics recommend that you park your car in three steps. First, push in the brake pedal, shift to park, and finally pull up your handbrake, all while the brake pedal is pushed in.

Not Letting Your Engine Warm Up

Another common mistake drivers make is to start their engine and immediately drive off over long distances. This can be damaging to your engine, particularly during cold weather. Why? First off, engine oil needs to thaw and flow freely within the engine components. If you simply start the engine and drive, engine oil circulates poorly and there is unnecessary friction within engine components. This can also ultimately result in costly engine damage.