Everyone on the road likes to think that they are excellent drivers. They get behind the wheel of their car and if they are a seasoned driver, they often get onto autopilot mode and are able to get where they need to go without even thinking about it anymore. The problem is that most of the time, habits when driving become so ingrained that it doesn't feel like you are doing anything wrong at all.
You won't even know that you're driving incorrectly until someone points it out to you later on, and it's in those moments that you finally learn that this whole time, you've been damaging your car or your driving reputation.
There is a lot that you need to know about being a car owner. You need to have and understand basic auto insurance. You need to know how to jump your car should you get stuck, and you need to know how to drive safely and responsibly so that you can get from A to B without too much drama. Being a good driver involves you being calm on the road, and that means that you should identify mistakes you make while you drive as soon as possible. So, with that in mind, here are ten things that you are doing wrong while you drive.
Riding Your Brakes
When you go downhill, riding your brakes causes friction for a long period of time and that results in heat that may damage your brakes. Not only will you cause significant wear and tear on the brake pads you're going to run the discs, too. Riding the brakes downhill is bad driving practice with any vehicle but in an older car the troubles are magnified. It may be obvious, but an older car will not be as advanced as a modern car and so tollerances for wear will not be as high. This means that what could be "just fine" in your 2020 Ford F-150 will cause expensive wear and potential damage on your 65 Mustang.
Instead of riding the brakes, either pulse them so you can reduce speed and then let them cool down or even better, engage a lower gear and apply light braking as you ride downhill.
Keeping Your Hands On The Gearshift
It's tempting to have one hand on the wheel and one on the gearstick, but it's bad driving practice. The ideal position for your hands is at 9 and 3 on the steering while (though in an older car there is likely no airbag so 10 and 2 probably work just fine too). However, more than just stability and control with driving, fiddling with the shifter can cause damage to the transmission depending on the pressure you apply. There is a selector fork under the gearstick and you are applying pressure to that fork, which causes premature wear and tear. Check your car manual: it'll tell you how bad for your gearstick it is!
Driving In The Wrong Gear Or Lugging Your Engine
Most modern vehicles are automatic and so you may not have ever considered high vs low gear while driving a typical car today. Even modern cars with manual transmission have a gear shift indicator light and this tells you when you should change your gear. However, older cars are almost certainly manual transmission and few will have shift indicators. These vehicles will also likely be less forgiving to abuse also.
If you're flooring the accelerator in a high gear, this places a lot of strain on the engine of the car and can lead to excessive heat as well as damage to the engine due to failure of lubrication systems and various mechanical parts to survive the stress. Depending on how old your car is, it may have rev limiters installed to prevent the worst damage but if your vehicle is older than the late 80's then this might not be the case. Driving for extended periods of time in the wrong gear is a terrible choice. You should avoid doing this!
Instead, monitor your tachometer to ensure you never go into the red. With practice, you will understand the right shift points for the vehicle you are driving. Remember too, that almost equally important to not over-revving the engine is to not shift too early to high gears. While this won't cause the engine to over-rev like having too low of a gear, it will cause other troubles.
Upshifting too early will "lug the engine" and can cause even worse stress and extra wear on the engine while also making you feel like your car lacks the expected power being produced.
Over Loading The Car
A car is designed to take on a heavy load but that doesn't mean that you can over load it. Every car has a maximum load weight, and the owner's manual can tell you how much is too much for your vehicle. Packing your car to move house or to go on a trip sounds like a good idea, but too much of that and you end up with strain on the brakes, drivetrain and suspension of the vehicle.
While newer cars generally have fantastic suspension compared to anything produced in the past, the impact of too much weight can range from being uncomfortable to dangerous on an old car.
You should also consider that while you leave unnecessary items in the trunk of the car, it won't add much more strain but it will affect the fuel economy of the car itself. You should always travel as lightly as possible.
Shifting To Reverse (or Drive) Before You Stop
It's tempting to get your car from drive to reverse before you come to a complete stop, but you shouldn't do this! Your automatic box is designed to shift your gears, but when you do it while you drive, your transmission is badly affected as a result. You'll cause unnecessary wear and tear on the transmission band. By wearing this out, you're subjecting yourself to expensive repairs. You don't want to crunch your gears in a manual car, either, and you should ensure that you come to a complete stop where possible. Luckily, modern cars won't allow a switch without a stop first!
You keep hitting potholes and speed bumps. You're supposed to slow down if you see a pothole or a speed bump so you can move over them slowly and carefully. Did you know that a third of all vehicle damage occurs as a result of potholes and speed bumps and hitting into them? Most people aren't aware of how damaging it can be, but now you are. Slow down and move over them carefully. You risk bad damage and costly repairs otherwise!
Ignoring Your Warning Lights
Those little red lights on the dashboard? They're there for a reason. Ignoring those lights is a problematic thing to do as they are warning you that something is wrong with the car. You need to investigate any lit symbols as quickly as possible and familiarize yourself with the ones that are most serious. Look into your car manual to find out what each of the symbols means and become more familiar with why the lights would switch on. It's likely you could need a service in your vehicle so that it's more efficient and it works nicely.
You keep revving up a cold engine. All vehicles start cold, but you want to avoid revving your engine over and over while it's cold. You need it to warm up first before you get out there. You can cause some damage to the car if you don't wait. Giving it more time is going to avoid any wear, tear and damage. A warmer car works more efficiently, and so find out from the manual how long your car takes to warm up a little. If you go too quickly, you're going to cause damage to the engine and that takes more money in fixing it up than is necessary.
Riding The Clutch
It's a bad idea to keep a foot on the clutch of the car as if you do, you'll be riding it down a hill. Poor clutch control causes excessive wear and so you have to ensure that your foot leaves the clutch pedal. You risk rubbing down the clutch pads and discs if you're not careful! You need to take a more careful approach to the treatment of your clutch and when you're not using it, your foot should be firmly on the floor. There is no need to touch the clutch otherwise.
Braking Far Too Late
It may be that you like the thrill of not knowing if you will make it, but you've got to stop hitting that brake so hard. The only time you should be braking so late is if you are in an emergency situation. You are going to put far too much pressure on your car if you brake too quickly and too late all the time. Slow down and brake slowly!
Stop doing these incorrect driving actions. All you're going to do is cost yourself more money than is necessary!