After years of driving, it’s easy to pick up some bad habits that are lazy at best, and seriously damaging your car at worst. If you want to protect your car from excessive fuel consumption and heightened maintenance costs, avoid developing the following bad habits.

1. Keeping your hand on the gear lever

Although this is a common habit, weight on the gear lever transfers down the linkages straight through to the internal workings of the transmission – this can cause premature wear and tear. The best way to kick this habit is to get used to driving with both hands on the wheel!

2. Not using the parking brake

Even on an absolutely flat surface, the whole weight of the vehicle is resting on some very small components, so you should always use the park brakes to avoid damage or unnecessary wear and tear.

3. Running on an empty tank

Everyone has been in that situation where you put in $10 worth of fuel to get by for a while before you fill up, just to keep the fuel light from illuminating. Little do we know that this habit could be causing damage to your fuel system! Most cars have fuel pumps in the tank that are cooled by the fuel. If your fuel levels are constantly low, the fuel can warm up and cause the pump to run hotter than it should be, leading to early pump failure.

4. Riding the brakes

Brake activation creates heat which is transferred through the brake system. Hard braking causes a build-up of and can wear the brake pad out. Rather than braking harshly, select a lower gear or monitor oncoming traffic so you can brake gradually.

5. Switching to opposite gears while the car is still rolling

It happens all the time when you’re reversing out of a car park – you back up and switch to a forward gear before the car comes to a stop. The drive train is still turning backwards but you’ve suddenly switched it to the opposite direction! Only a few years of this habit can lead to you finding yourself having to repair your gearbox a lot earlier than you need to.

All cars age and breakdown, but we can limit our effect on how fast this happens by shaking off some bad habits to help our cars last longer!