10 driving habits that are bad for your car

10 driving habits that are bad for your car

Find out how your driving techniques or maintenance habits could be damaging your car and take a look at ways to prevent these costly repairs.

Bad driving practices are common on the roads. Even experienced drivers are guilty of committing habits that cause unnecessary harm to their vehicles. But these small actions can lead to bigger problems that may cause a shorter lifespan for your motor and hefty maintenance fees.

Below, we list the most common driving habits that are damaging your car along with ways to combat them.

Not starting the car correctly

Most of a car engine’s hard work is triggered when you first start the vehicle, and while it is good to give your motor some time to warm up, revving the engine excessively should be avoided. This activates acute temperature shifts which can result in damage.

Instead, start the engine and wait 30 seconds before it heats up. Another good trick is to switch off all car accessories that require power including radio, air con and wipers.

Riding the clutch

Impatiently waiting at a red light holding down the clutch, ready to drop it and speed off once it switches to green… sound familiar? While it’s frustrating coming to a traffic standstill, all that time riding the clutch can cause serious damage to your vehicle’s pressure plate.

Applying force to the clutch makes the surfaces graze against one another, which over time grinds them down and reduces the clutch’s lifespan. Instead, disengage the clutch and place the shifter into neutral, only pressing the clutch and engaging gear when the light turns green.

Only leaving a small amount of fuel in the tank

Penny pinching on fuel may seem like a good idea to save splashing out on a full tank but running a car on minimal fuel can lead to even more expensive repair jobs in the long term.

Modern fuel pumps are designed to cool once they are immersed in fuel, and driving with only a small amount in your gas tank may cause it to heat up and wear down quicker. Keeping your fuel tank at least a quarter full helps avoid this.


Topping the list of most annoying driver habits by fellow motorists, tailgating is not only dangerous but it can also damage your vehicle. By driving too closely behind the motor in front, it instantly gives you a slower ‘reaction time’ and leaves your car vulnerable.

In the event a road accident happens ahead, tailgating minimises the chances of stopping safely because you need to brake more abruptly. Guidelines recommend you leave at least two seconds of ‘reaction time’, and this should be even higher in bad weather conditions.

Ignoring warning signs

You may enjoy living life on the edge, but this could be pushing your car to its edge. It’s all too easy (and less costly) to turn a blind eye at the odd squeak, flashing light or rattle coming from your vehicle. But skipping routine maintenance checks can significantly decrease the life expectancy of your motor.

As soon as you notice any unusual symptoms, immediately contact a mechanic to diagnose the cause and solve any issue before it rears its ugly head.

Racing over speed bumps and potholes

We all despise speed bumps, potholes and unpaved road surfaces, but that’s no reason to drive so fast you fly over them. Racing over a pothole can cause tyre punctures, wheel distortion and damaged suspension.

Likewise, speed bumps can reduce the lifespan of a car’s exhaust system, tyres and suspension. These are in place for a reason so heed the warning and reduce your speed to prevent harming the undercarriage of the vehicle.

Riding the brakes downhill

Constantly applying the brakes when driving down a hill may seem like a safe option, but it can do more harm than good. The heat generated from riding the brakes causes the pads to heat up and erode faster.

Next time you drive downhill resist riding your brakes the whole time, and opt for changing between light braking pressure and release.

Misusing the handbrake

Whenever you park on an incline without using the handbrake, it produces additional strain on the car’s transmission. It is bad driving practice to leave your motor in gear, and in turn ruins the transmission over time.

If you drive an automatic, inside your car’s transmission is a small pin called a parking pawl which keeps the vehicle steady in ‘P’ mode. Not only will using the handbrake release any extra tension but it can add years to your motor’s lifespan. So, remember to use that handbrake next time you park!

Carrying a heavy load

Hauling around excess baggage in your car forces the engine to work much harder than it should.  Sometimes carrying extra weight is unavoidable, for example, if you are moving to a new house or transporting tools to work.

But driving around with additional baggage for no reason all the time reduces your fuel economy considerably and puts unnecessary weight on your car’s key components.

Driving with unbalanced wheels

Driving with unbalanced wheels can compromise road safety, putting both the driver and car at risk. Signs that your wheels are out of balance include vibrations in the steering wheel above certain speeds and cupped wear pattern on the tyres.

Ignoring these symptoms can pose a serious safety threat and expensive maintenance costs.  Unbalanced wheels increase the possibility of premature wearing of the tyres and extra stress on wheel bearings.

Join the newsletter

Get the latest news, reviews and guides every week. Update your preferences at any time.