6 Driving Habits You Need to Break Right Now

February 23, 2018

Do you regularly ignore your parking brake (except when you’re parked on a hill)? Or maybe you have a habit of letting your car get down to almost empty before stopping at the gas station?

Habits can be hard to break. But some driving habits are worse for your vehicle than others.

Below is a short list of six driving habits and actions that can damage your vehicle, put passenger safety at risk,  and lead to costly maintenance repairs. 

Make sure to check your tires for damage after hitting curb or other object.1. Hitting or sliding sideways into curbs or other objects

Whether a tiny bump or a faster impact, hitting or sliding sideways into a curb or other solid object with your vehicle is a good way to destroy tires, bend rims, damage wheel hub bearings, and harm suspension components.

If your car has hit a curb, don’t delay. Spending a little money to have your vehicle inspected by a skilled mechanic (including an alignment check) can prevent further damage and save you money in the long run. 

What to look out for:

  • Tire puncture or wear
  • Wheel rim damage
  • Damage to wheel bearings
  • Wear or damage to struts and strut mounts
  • Broken or damaged tie rods
  • Broken or damaged control arms

Potholes can cause damage to tires, rims, suspension, and more.2. Driving full-steam through potholes

Sometimes potholes are unavoidable, but the worst thing you can do to your vehicle is drive through them like they aren’t there. Drive through a pothole fast enough and you risk duplicating much of the damage that occurs when your car hits a curb  - or worse. While damage like a blown tire is immediately apparent, some damage may not show immediately. 

What can you do to minimize pothole damage? Other than avoiding potholes (which isn’t always possible), you can make sure your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated to manufacturer’s recommended tire air pressure; keep enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you so you’re more likely to see, and react to, a pothole in advance; and drive cautiously and slowly through any potholes that you can’t avoid.

What to look out for:

  • Tire puncture or wear
  • Wheel rim damage
  • Damage to wheel bearings
  • Wear or damage to struts and strut mounts
  • Broken or damaged tie rods
  • Broken or damaged control arms
  • Steering system misalignment 
  • Damage to exhaust system
  • Damage to engine

Not using the parking brake on your vehicle can put unnecessary strain on the parking pawl.3. Ignoring the parking brake

Do you know what the parking pawl is? It’s a small metal pin within the transmission. Not using the parking brake (yes, even when parked on a level surface) forces the entire weight of the vehicle to rest on this small piece of metal. A worn out or broken parking pawl can result in the ineffectiveness of using the “P” on your shifter (inability to put your vehicle in park and have it not roll).

What to do:

  • Use the parking brake in all circumstances.

4. Not properly monitoring your vehicle’s fluids 

Fluids like engine oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission oil, coolant, and fuel are essential to the safe and reliable operation of your vehicle. Improperly maintained fluid levels can lead to burned out pistons and valves and crankshaft and camshaft bearings, loss of power steering assist, a ruined power steering pump, and (in the worst case scenario) a destroyed engine.

What to do/inspect:

  • Keep an eye open for (and don’t ignore) leaks.
  • Know how to tell if your vehicle is burning oil.
  • Try to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full. Overheating of the fuel pump can help be prevented by keeping it submerged in fuel (which cools the pump).

5. Driving around on under-inflated tires 

Under-inflated tires are one of the leading causes of tire failure, according to the NHTSA, and account for about 9% of vehicle crashes. Under-inflation causes too much of the tire’s surface area to be in contact with the road, which can increase friction and can cause the tire to overheat. 

What can you do? Knowing really is half the battle - you can prevent a good number of problems by knowing the manufacturer’s recommended air tire pressure and how to properly inflate tires.

What to watch out for:

  • Overheated tires
  • Premature tire wear
  • Tread separation
  • Blowouts

Riding the brakes downhill can damage brake pads and rotors.6. Riding the brakes downhill

Resting your foot on the brake pedal of your vehicle may give you a sense of safety as you drive downhill, but the habit could actually be detrimental to your well-being. How so? Riding your brakes downhill generates heat, which can cause the brake fluid to boil and be less effective, and causes strain in the brake system, which can lead to worn out and warped components like brake pads and rotors. 

So, what braking methods are preferable** when going downhill (on dry pavement)? 

Engine braking by shifting into a lower gear when driving downhill (in an automatic just shift into “L” or “2”). 

More forceful, punctuated application of the brakes (gives the brakes a better chance of cooling off)

What to watch out for:

  • Worn brake pads
  • Warped brake rotors
  • Brake pedal fade

** NOTE: That all said, please note that occasional “riding of the brakes” down hills is fine. Ideally, you should still find a gear where you’re moving at a suitable speed but not so fast that you have to sit on the brakes constantly.

Save money when you do need to replace parts

Regular upkeep and maintenance are expected for vehicles, but you can avoid causing unnecessary damage and racking up additional expenses by paying more attention to your daily driving habits and taking care of issues sooner rather than later. 

Don’t worry, though - in the unfortunate event that you do need to replace car or truck parts - TascaParts.com can help! We have the genuine parts you need, at great prices and with speedy shipping. We want you to get your repairs taken care of as quickly as you do! 

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