10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

The modern-day automobile consists of numerous moving parts that work in sync to make the vehicle move. However, the life of the components depends totally on the way one handles the car. There are many bad habits that drivers develop, over the years, that can shorten the life of the vehicle by a big margin. What are these bad habits can how can you avoid it? Let’s find out.

No engine braking on downhill

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

Many people switch off the engine or put their vehicle in neutral while going downhill. Putting the transmission in neutral while coasting downhill takes away the engine braking, and the driver relies completely on the brakes to keep the speed in check. Over time, the brakes heat up and become ineffective.

Modern features of car rely on electric motors and turning off the engine translates into cutting down the power that keeps such motors running. Crucial parts like power steering, brakes, airbags, ABS, stability control and so on need power and switching off the engine can be dangerous.

Not cooling down the turbo

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

One has to take extra care of the cars that get turbochargers. Even though all the diesel engines are turbocharged, there are many affordable cars with petrol engines that get a turbocharger. After using the vehicle, one should always keep the engine running for a few minutes to cool down the turbo. Idling of the car ensures that the cooling system gets enough time to bring down the temperature of the turbocharger and remove most of the exhaust gases from the turbo-system.

Driving at higher gear at low rpm (engine lugging)

There is a common notion that driving the car in higher gear will provide high mileage. While it is true, many people try to upshift at lower RPMs. Keeping the gear in a higher position and driving the car at a slow speed has a negative impact on the transmission. The high gear means a lower number of teeth on the gearing, which relaxes the engine but the lower gearing does not have enough power to accelerate and if you try to do that, it can do severe damage to your car’s mechanicals, over the years.

Ripping a cold engine

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

It is important to not put excess pressure on a cold engine. The engine oil that keeps the engine lubricated needs to reach a certain temperature before it achieves the desired viscousness. If the engine is cold, the engine oil fails to lubricate all the components properly, which causes premature wear and tear in the engine. Modern engines do not require much time to get warmed up. Driving slowly for a couple of kilometres ensures that the engine reaches optimum temperature.

Using ‘P’ mode to stop the car

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

Many people use the “P” mode or Parking Mode to bring an automatic vehicle to a halt. The Parking Mode is not the handbrake. Instead, it uses the transmission to ensure that the car is not moving when it is parked. Even automatic cars have handbrakes as just putting the car in the “P” mode is different from the handbrake that actually uses the car’s brake. Always ensure that the car comes to a complete halt before putting it in the “P” mode.

Putting the car in reverse mode while moving

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

It is imperative to understand that putting the car in reverse gear without bringing it to a complete stop can have drastic consequences. Many people have a habit of putting the transmission in reverse while the car is still moving forward. Putting the car in the reverse gear brings in a third small gear called the idler. It changes the direction of the motion of the gear, which puts it in reverse. Engaging the reverse gear when the car is still moving forward grinds the gear badly and can deeply damage the transmission.

Shifting to a lower gear at high speed

While many of us downshift to overtake on the highway, skipping a couple of gears while downshifting at high speed can have a negative impact on the engine and transmission. The engine speed rises suddenly at lower gears and can be dangerous for the car. To save the engine from high RPM, manufacturers put engine-cutoff sensors. If the engine speed reaches a certain RPM it can get cut-off and the car can come to a complete halt, in some cases. It can also cause wheel spin and send the vehicle out of control.

Not slowing down on bad roads and speed bumps

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

Regular car suspension works all the time. Even on the smoothest of roads, the suspension continuously works to keep the ride stable. If you’re driving on bad surfaces, the suspension system has to put in extra effort. Always drive slowly on bad roads to give your car’s suspension more time to react and absorb the undulation.

The same goes for speed breakers and potholes. Whenever you spot a speed breaker or a deep pothole that you can’t avoid, slow down while negotiating it. Smoother drives over bad surfaces will also make the car less susceptible to early rattling.

Not following the service schedule

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

A car is made up of complex parts that are engineered precisely. There are a number of moving parts in the vehicle that require regular lubrication and periodic replacement. Car manufacturers decide the service period according to the design of the parts and it should be followed very strictly.

If a car manufacturer has mentioned a 10,000 km or 1-year service period, make sure that you take your vehicle for the scheduled service. Essentials such as timing belt should be replaced as per the service book, else the car loses out on warranty and also the life shortens.

High speed with low tyre-pressure

10 bad habits that can DRASTICALLY reduce your car’s life

Tyres go through the most abuse and one should take extreme care of the tyres. They are the only contact patch between the roads and the car. Low tyre pressure increases the contact area between the tyre and the road and apart from decreasing fuel efficiency, the tyre can burst in such situations. The tyre flexes more when there is not enough pressure and it can heat up quickly and can burst while doing high speed. It is always a good idea to keep a constant check on tyre pressure.

Shantonil Nag

Shantonil Nag, senior feature writer at, channels his expertise and enthusiasm into insightful car reviews and test drives. (Full bio)