Poor driving habits can put strain on the mechanical components of your car, resulting in costly breakdowns. Picture: REUTERS
Poor driving habits can put strain on the mechanical components of your car, resulting in costly breakdowns. Picture: REUTERS

There are plenty of driving habits that can affect your vehicle’s reliability over time, and without even realising it, your driving could be damaging your car and causing unnecessary wear and tear.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect driver and we can all improve at least some aspects of our driving,” says Barend Smit, marketing director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options. “However, if you really love your car and you’re trying to minimise the amount you spend on car maintenance, a few small changes to your driving habits could make all the difference.”

 Smit lists a few here:

 1 Accelerating hard in a high gear

Driving in fifth or sixth gear and flooring the accelerator pedal causes a lot of strain on the engine and gearbox. Engine and gearbox mountings can break or loosen over time. To prevent this from happening, gear down a gear or two to bring the RPMs, which takes hard strain off the vehicle.

 2 Lightly braking for long periods of time

This is a common driving habit when motorists are decreasing their speed downhill. The vehicle requires extra braking force to stop. However, many motorists will slowly decrease their speed by resting their foot on the brake pedal all the way down the hill. This puts tremendous amounts of heat on the brakes, which causes them to wear a lot faster. To avoid this, you should brake slightly harder near the bottom of the hill.

 3 Overloading your vehicle

All vehicles have a recommended weight capacity. When you’re going on a long road trip or using the vehicle for work purposes, be careful not to exceed the weight limit of the vehicle. The brakes, suspension, engine and gearbox suffer when you overload your vehicle.

 4 Shifting from drive to reverse when the vehicle has not come to a complete stop (automatics only)

An automatic vehicle requires a full stop before shifting between reverse and drive. Shifting before coming to a complete stop can cause wear and tear on the transmission band, clutch and gearbox mountings. This means the vehicle could start having problems when trying to select the correct gear ratio, resulting in an unpleasant gear change.

 5 Hitting speed bumps and potholes at a high speed

If you don’t slow down while driving over speed bumps and through potholes you could cause damage to your vehicle’s suspension units and rims. Rather drive around them.

 6 Riding the clutch

“Riding the clutch” means a person doesn’t fully remove their foot from the clutch pedal. This causes unnecessary friction, which results in wear and tear. Always fully engage the clutch by removing your foot off the clutch pedal after changing gears or pulling off from a standstill.