Habits are an interesting phenomenon. We tend to pick up habits starting from our toddler days and keep doing so till our last breath unless intervened. Some of these habits are good and few are bad. Good habits help us become better while their counterparts cast undesirable impact in countless ways. Here is a list of driving habits we picked up that adversely affect our vehicles and our wallets. Why shouldn’t we do what we do?

All of us remember the day we prepared for our road test with the RTO sitting next to us, with tension soaring high and the pressure of driving accurately with high-hopes of passing the test at the first attempt. However, after we got our driving licences, it is very interesting how the way we drive has changed. As we get comfortable with our vehicles, we tend to pay less attention to driving responsibly, not to mention the loud music and that important call which, if not answered while driving would bring the world to a grinding halt and many more. Here are our own driving habits that are a car’s worst enemy.

Hand on shifter

Resting arm on the shifter is the most common mannerism picked up by drivers. Follow the gear knob and you will find it allied to a control rod containing selection forks which help in the smooth shifting of gears. Engaging this fork continuously will cause wear to the fork and dog clutch, worst case you could even break the selection fork. Put your hand back on the steering or get an armrest.

Engaging clutch for longer

This practice is called half clutching, which is mostly seen with novice drivers. It helps keep the engine on and have the car moving in higher gears, but be ready to change your clutch plates sooner.

Shift to neutral in signals. Clutch is only meant for shifting and isn’t a substitute for neutral ‘N’. Give your feet some rest at traffic islands, and the extra one or two seconds you take to change to first gear from neutral is always worth it.

Driving with an almost empty tank

A full tank has its advantages such as uninterrupted fuel supply, avoid accumulated water from freezing, etc. However, operating the vehicle with an almost empty tank is risky as the fuel pump would suck in air and wear prematurely and damage the catalytic converter. Replacing these parts can cost you dear than it would have at the fuel station.

Revving at start

Revving at the start is the most common blunder that most of the drivers do. This habit may have been carried forward from the biking days. Revving an engine when it is cold causes extensive damage, as lubricants need to reach their operating temperature and protect all moving components against direct contact. Modern engines are equipped to automatically reach operating temperatures, just wait 10-15 seconds before putting a load on them. Don’t rev.

Carrying junk in the trunk

As we embark for trips like fishing, trekking, camping, etc, we tend to fill the trunks with all the equipment and that is the right thing to do. Sadly, we do not remember put them back where they belong after the trip. Carrying unwanted junk in the boot affects the car’s performance and mileage because of the hardship the engine has to put up. Clean the trunk for a fuel efficient, greener car.

Shifting from reverse to forward gears, before a complete halt

While backing out from a parking space, the lane appears to be clear while still moving backward, you switch to the first and jet off, sounds familiar? Well, this may seem okay with a bit of grinding noise, but in the long run, this sudden change in direction will damage the drivetrain.

Breaking downhill

Driving downhill is fun, isn’t it? With the car accelerating by itself and all you have to do is the brake to control the speed, right? Wrong! By braking on a decent you risk overheating the disc brakes, pad and the tyres. Switch to a lower gear and let the engine do the work for you. This way, you will avoid unnecessary wear and will be in total control of the car.

Not using parking brakes

Many of us believe that leaving the car in gear or ‘P’ in automatic cars equals parking with the handbrake. It is recommended that you park the vehicle with the handbrake and first gear or ‘P’ in automatic cars to be double sure. Parking in first gear or P and avoiding the handbrake isn’t recommended as it puts the entire vehicle’s weight on a small piece of metal called the parking pawl which is the size of your thumb. This small piece of metal can wear out and break eventually. Using the parking brake evens out the load and helps transmission components last longer.

Ignoring warning signs and noises

Most of us ignore the small bright warning signs on the dash and the other noise like squeaks, knocks, shudders which indicate that something isn’t right. The longer you ignore these symptoms the more trouble you are sure to land in. Pay attention to these signs and get them looked at immediately.

Driving on high beam

Most of us drive on high beam as the OEM headlamps prove less effective if the roads aren’t well lit. It is important to see where you are headed, but it is equally important not to blind motorists travelling head-on. Try using brighter bulbs available in the market, there is a host of options, to improve visibility without impairing others vision.

Screaming away from the signal and screeching on the next

It is normal to feel like a racer from time to time, especially when at the signal. It sure is exciting and a lot of fun, but is dangerous each time when someone decides to jump the signal from a different side. Even if you are lucky and manage to escape each time, on the vehicle it puts a lot of stress on the drivetrain components and burns a lot of fuel. Another problem is that you will have to slam the brakes soon. Neither is good for your car as it causes rapid wear to the rotors and brake pads.

Slow acceleration

While a few of us like to floor, it there is the other bunch that is mostly in a Reggae mood. They stick to their mellow pace irrespective of the fellow motorists and their cars. They accelerate slowly thinking they are greener drivers who get better gas mileage. These Marley’s on the contrary end up using more than twice the fuel by subjecting their transmission to abuse and forcing fellow motorists to brake and accelerate again. The key is to drive at economy speeds.

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