Show a little love
From fast starts to sudden braking, your driving habits can be hard on your vehicle. You don’t mean to harm your car but you know what they say: sometimes you hurt the one you love. Remember when you first got your car -- how you babied it, parked it at the end of the lot and washed it every week to keep it looking its best?
Now is the time to recommit yourself to treating your car like the day you drove it off the dealer’s lot. Bad driving habits can send your vehicle to the repair shop, so show your car a little love by avoiding the transgressions listed below.
Riding the brakes
You may think you’re being extra cautious and a safe driver, but keeping your foot on the brake pedal is hazardous to your braking system. Every time you press on the brake pedal – even just a soft tap – causes heat buildup. Excessive braking increases the risk that the brakes could overheat or warp, which causes premature wear of the pads and rotors. If you’re riding your brakes because you’re going down a hill, try downshifting to remain at a safe speed.
Making multiple short trips
There are few things worse for your car than making a bunch of short trips throughout the day. Your engine doesn’t have a chance to get warm and is constantly running cold which, over time, can be damaging. Try to take care of all your errands in one trip. Not only is it good advice for maximizing gas mileage but it reduces wear and tear on your engine.
While hard stops are sometimes necessary to avoid a collision, many times these stops can be avoided by looking ahead at traffic patterns, anticipating when you might have to brake, and starting your braking action early. Smoothly pressing on the brake pedal saves excess wear on your brake pads and rotors.
It’s common knowledge that peeling away from a stoplight can have a negative effect on your gas mileage, but did you know that these fast starts can have other consequences? Fast starts are hard on your vehicle, putting undue stress on the key components of your car. From the engine and transmission to the steering and suspension, jackrabbit starts put extra strain on your vehicle and can cause premature failure. Do your car a favor and lay off the accelerator.
Carrying a heavy load
The more stuff you haul around, the more your car weighs. And the more your car weighs, the harder the brakes, engine, transmission and suspension have to work. The less your car weighs, the better it will drive, and as an added bonus, you just might see a bump in your gas mileage. So when it isn’t game day, lighten up and leave the kids’ sports equipment behind.
Ignoring warning signs
No one likes to see the check engine light come on or to hear a strange noise while they are driving. While it would be easy to ignore these issues, taking it to your trusted mechanic is the best move. Taking care of problems sooner rather than later can mean the difference between a simple repair and a costlier and involved fix.
Driving on fumes
Waiting to fill up your tank until gas drops in price could end up costing you. Many of today’s vehicles have an electric fuel pump where gasoline acts as a coolant. Driving with a near empty tank can cause the fuel pump to generate excess heat and suffer premature failure. To avoid problems, get in the habit of driving with the gas tank at least ¼ full.
Riding the clutch
Many stick shift drivers are guilty of riding the clutch. At a stoplight, it is tempting to keep the clutch engaged to enable a quick getaway when the light turns green. However, doing this risks premature wearing of the clutch. To avoid clutch failure, put the car in neutral when stopped for more than a few seconds and let the clutch out. When the light turns, push the clutch in, put the transmission in first and go.
Using the curb as a parking aid
When easing into a parking space, it can be tempting to inch in until your tires bump into the curb. When you do this, you risk damaging your tires. It can also cause alignment issues and could cause your tires to become unbalanced.
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