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Which Driving Habits are Damaging Your Car

We’ve previously detailed some of the frustrating and pointless driving habits we witness on our roads. But what about the habits that we should be mindful of that have the potential to damage our car. Not only could these habits pose an inconvenience by forcing you off the road, they may also involve costly repairs. Let’s take a look at some of these driving habits.


Harsh Braking or Accelerating

While the thrill of accelerating is a joy to some, harsh accelerating, as well as sudden braking, can both lead to earlier maintenance. When accelerating in this manner you put the car’s engine under more stress. What’s more, if the engine isn’t fully warm, the wear on the engine is even more pronounced because oil has yet to be circulated through the engine system.

Sudden braking on the other hand can shorten the life span of the brakes, brake pads and rotors. Furthermore, if you’re inclined to ride the brakes, they will be worn down faster by way of the heat generated. Like you were taught in your driving lessons, you should always maintain a smooth transition when accelerating or braking.


Riding the Clutch

When it comes to manual vehicles, riding the clutch can lead to its own complications. Pressure from the clutch, regardless of how little, raises plates away from the flywheel. Without the friction between the clutch and the flywheel, the flywheel begins to slip leading to wear. Over time, this can lead to the clutch failing. Also when it comes to manual cars, keep an eye out for being in the wrong gear, which can deteriorate the engine and cylinder heads.


Ignoring the Hand Brake

Hand brakes were designed for a reason. To support the weight of the car while it is parked. When you opt not to use the hand brake, all the car’s weight is transferred to another component in the transmission of the vehicle – the parking prawl. The thing is, once you start to excessively load this part, it will eventually fail and render the parking in your transmission useless. Similarly, when you’re on a hill, you should be particularly precise to put the car’s transmission into neutral first, before setting the hand brake. Once you’ve done this and released the brakes, you may then subsequently shift the transmission into park.


Running the Fuel Tank Dry

Many of us are guilty of this. And in fact, you don’t even have to run the tank empty to cause problems. Problems may eventuate by leaving the tank at a low level. How? Well, fuel acts as a lubricant. Modern day fuels also have cleansing properties designed to look after the fuel pump and filter. When you run your fuel low, you can allow rust and dirt from the bottom of the tank to enter and damage the fuel filter.


Not Breaking the Car In Slowly

You know how during the early kilometres of your new vehicle there is a ‘break in’ period where it is advised you don’t drive aggressively? Well, that’s not just for your own safety. This is a form of conditioning, where you effectively allow a newly built vehicle to settle in and become accustom to stress from operation. While modern day cars do some form of this during manufacturing, it is still recommended that you don’t push it too hard during these early stages or you may compromise the vehicle’s life span ever so slightly.


Not Paying Attention to the Warning Signs

Just like you would listen to your body if it was telling you something wrong, you should listen to your vehicle. If you receive warning lights on your dashboard, make sure you understand what they are and that you address the problem. The sophistication of these systems is quite advanced, even when it comes to informing you of maintenance. If you start to delay maintenance, you may compound any existing problems and allow oils to turn into sludge that can damage the engine.


  1. graeme bagshaw says:

    I have noticed that many drivers place their hand/s palm up when turning into streets or roundabouts .from traffic lights , etc.This is a dangerous habit, and certainly not advocated by driving instructors.When using this bad habit and if needing to take evasive action the driver must remove hand from steering wheel, place palm down , too much time required——-

    Should/could this be a driving offence?

    August 24th, 2017 at 11:15 am

  2. michael robertson says:

    Agree Graeme – advanced driving instructors always enforce not holding the wheel, particularly when turning, from the inside – a left over from heavier cars with no power steering perhaps – because if you hit a pothole you have lost control. Have seen plenty of instructors not correcting their students.

    August 24th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

  3. David G says:

    As a cop I’ve attended many a (relatively) low speed accident at intersections where the driver emerging from a terminating street has been hit mid turn. Problem is that they have had their hand gripping the steering wheel from the inside when hit, and unfortunately the other car has impacted on a front wheel. This has inevitably resulted in the steering wheel spinning very abruptly, smashing their wrist/hand in the process. The hand and wrists are complex things and take years to get right, if at all.

    August 24th, 2017 at 12:26 pm

  4. Bruce C says:

    When I learnt to drive a truck (which was a long time ago), the instructor told me that if he ever caught me driving with my thumbs inside the steering wheel, let alone my hands, he would break them for me. He said it would save time as they were sure to be broken if I hit a pothole or was involved in a collision. I agree with you David G.

    August 24th, 2017 at 6:17 pm

  5. ron m says:

    Low fuel, Bull Dust, all fuel tanks have there pick up at the bottom it makes no difference , and when you buy fuel if it is contaminated , contact the servo and put a claim in, I have had a bad load of diesel and Mobil paid for all my expenses.

    August 24th, 2017 at 7:00 pm

  6. John Jeffreys says:

    There are already enough silly laws regarding cars in Australia already. Adding more is just to give the police something else to book you for when they have nothing better to do.
    Stupid things like rules regarding the distance the car windows can be lowered when it is locked – and it is different in different states. In Victoria more that 2 cm is illegal so is being more that 3 metres from your car when it is unlocked so make sure you lock the car with the windows up and take your kids with you when you go to pay for that fuel. Parking and Stopping rules are enforced even if your car has broken down – so you can be booked for parking illegally while waiting for the tow-truck.
    There are endless more of these silly rules most of which no-one takes any notice of until the said policeman needs to ping a few people to get his numbers up or is just having a bad day.

    August 24th, 2017 at 7:17 pm

  7. Bruce McLennan says:

    I saw this list on facebook a week back but the list was a bit longer, including idling your car to warm it up before you drive it. I agree with most but the not letting your fuel run low is silly. I sincerely hope my filter system keeps my fuel clean. Regardless of how you drive there will be occasions when you have to run your tank down. If you are relying on the bottom quarter of your tank being a reservoir for rubbish then I’d suggest you are in for serious trouble.

    August 24th, 2017 at 8:35 pm

  8. David Pearn says:

    Excessive use of fog lights

    August 24th, 2017 at 8:39 pm