10 Ways You Might Be Harming Your Car

A car is a major investment for most people, so it’s only natural that they would want to keep it running for as long as possible. Modern cars are well-made and run reliably for tens of thousands of kilometres, but some bad habits can age them prematurely.

Avoid the following undesirable practices to make sure your car has a long and healthy life:

Inadequate Fuel

Constantly maintaining a low fuel level by filling only small quantities at the gas station can have a detrimental effect on your fuel pump. Many modern fuel pumps are designed to sit in the fuel tank, cooled by the surrounding fuel. Chronically low levels of fuels will wear this pump out faster. Low fuel level might also allow condensation to develop in an empty tank, inviting corrosion.

Incorrect Tyre Pressure

Your tyres have the important task of maintaining contact between the vehicle and the road, and they cannot do this well if they are over- or under-inflated. Manufacturers recommend an ideal tyre pressure for their vehicles, and this should be adhered to. Over- or under-inflated tyres can adversely affect the handling and braking, jeopardising vehicle safety. This also accelerates the wear and tear of the tyres themselves.

Shifting Gears Abruptly

Abruptly shifting an automatic transmission from reverse to drive, or vice versa, especially when the vehicle is still moving, can cause acute wear and/or damage to the transmission. Such abrupt shifting is easy to avoid in a manual shift due to the crunching sound the gearbox will almost immediately make but can be more insidious in an automatic. Always change gears only when the car is at a complete standstill.

Misusing The Handbrake

The handbrake is a powerful tool, but it should be used appropriately. When parking the car for a short to medium duration, especially on an incline, it is okay to engage the handbrake. If the car is only left in gear, all the weight of the car is borne by a small, finger-sized piece of metal called the parking pawl that is fitted to a vehicle’s automatic transmission system. However, if you are going to be parking the vehicle for a long time, find a level ground and avoid engaging the handbrake as rust might form at the point of contact between the brake pads and the disc/drum.

Neglecting The Wipers

The rubber blades of windscreen wipers get hard and brittle over time. If used in such a state, they are not only ineffective at clearing your windscreen but can actually scratch it irreversibly. So, check the state of your windscreen wipers before the onset of the monsoon and change them if required.

Revving A Cold Engine

Engine fluids need to reach a certain operating temperature before they can work well. Over-revving an engine (at idle or in motion) before it has reached its optimum operating temperature can accelerate wear and over time and reduce its life. It’s best to let an engine warm up after starting by keeping the revs low or idle for a minute or two before you push it higher into the rev range.

Riding The Clutch

The clutch is a vital element of the drivetrain. It is also fairly sensitive and should be used with care. Do NOT use it as a footrest when driving a car with manual transmission. Drivers often rest their left foot on the clutch while accelerating. This can cause unnecessary contact between the engine flywheel and the clutch friction plate, leading to accelerated wear of the latter.

Overloading The Vehicle

Regularly overloading your vehicle can have a detrimental effect on its suspension, force the drivetrain to work harder, make it tougher for the brakes to bring the car to a halt, and subject the tyres to greater wear. The lighter you keep your vehicle, the better it is for all its components.

Downhill Braking

Using only the brakes as the car is driven downhill can lead to overheating, which can lead to brake fade, or worse still, complete brake failure. It is better to drive downhill in a lower gear, employing engine braking to keep the vehicle’s speed in check and supplement that with light taps on the brakes as required.

Irregular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to a car’s health; irregular maintenance is its enemy. It is important to service a car and change parts and fluids at the recommended intervals. Ford owners can rely on the FordPass app for this; it keeps them in the loop about the vehicle’s condition and notifies them if there is an issue, or the vehicle is due for any type of service.

No one wants to intentionally cause their car harm, but many of us are guilty of doing so inadvertently. By being mindful of our bad habits and correcting them, we can keep our cars – and ourselves – safe and happy.