12 common habits that will make your car wear out quickly
Stop these common mistakes to help keep your car on the road and out of the garage.
Banging through potholes
Your car’s suspension is great at soaking up imperfections in the road, but it has a breaking point. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid potholes, but driving through them at any speed faster than a crawl can bend wheel rims and brake struts.
Using cheap fuel
Penny-pinching by using less than top-tier-rated fuels can result in expensive engine damage down the road. Filling with regular grade when the engine requires premium can create drivability problems and warning lights.
Not driving it enough
Too much time without exercise will kill your car’s battery, misshape its tires, and can leave it with a tank full of stale fuel. If you want to store a car for a long period of time, be sure to find a suitable (and preferably indoor) location. Then give it a good wash to protect the paint, overfill its tires to help keep them round, use some peppermint-oil-soaked mothballs to protect it from rodents, and hook the battery up to a trickle charger to keep it alive.
Driving on improper alignment
This commonly neglected issue can wear down your tires, increase your chances of an accident, and hurt your car’s fuel economy.
Not washing it
It’s easy to wonder why you should keep your car’s exterior clean. After all, it’s just going to get dirty again, right? Well, washing your car regularly will protect its paint.
Not cleaning under the hood
We tend to focus on keeping our car’s exterior clean, but not under the hood. This is a mistake. Periodic cleaning of your car engine’s exterior can remove built-up sludge and debris that is shortening the life of your engine.
Holding the shifter
This one’s for those few remaining manual-transmission drivers: Don’t rest your hand on the gear shifter! While it may feel natural to keep your hand on the stick shift, doing so will result in premature wear to the transmission’s components.
Using incorrect or cheap parts and fluids
You might be keeping up with maintenance, but going cheap by using substandard or incorrect parts and fluids is bad. Regular oil changes require the use of the correct-viscosity oil, not just the least expensive stuff you can find in a garage kiosk. Spark plugs should have the correct heat range. Fuel and air filters should be name-brand, original-equipment-equivalent or better, not just the lowest-priced item you can find.
Not changing the oil often enough
Changing your oil more often than recommended keeps corrosive materials out of the engine and helps you keep your car on the road longer. This is especially true if you mainly do city driving.
Driving your car cold
A cold engine needs time to get up to temperature. Avoid full-throttle acceleration until the temperature gauge reads ‘normal'.
Slamming the brakes too often
A heavy foot on the brake pedal creates abnormal wear to pads and rotors, resulting in more frequent replacements.
Running on empty
Running your car until the fuel light comes on—and then driving another 10 kilometers—moves debris and dirt that has settled to the bottom of your tank through your engine. That "I know my car" theory has to stop.
Putting the pedal to the metal
Repeated brisk acceleration and braking is hard on suspensions and tires.