Are you killing your car?

If you look after your car, what you do will certainly pay back. However, with the more and more common car ownerships, few drivers fully understand and look after their cars well. Conversely, without knowledge, many drivers are actually damaging their car or at very least running up a hefty repair bill.
Here are the top 10 things that most people doing every day completely oblivious to the consequences. Most of these points will at the very least hit us in our pockets in the near future.
1.) Oil changes and servicing – Engine oil is the vital component in your car. Some people will wrongly assume that if the car takes 5 liters of oil and they have topped up this year by 5 liters that there is no point in changing the oil. Oil degrades, and the reduction in oil level is due to the thinner high quality oil getting burned or just seeping out of the engine. The sludge, grime and metal particles build up in the residue so topping up is not the same as changing the oil. The oil level is dangerously low in over 70% of cars – check your oil levels today.
2.) Incorrect tire pressures – cause additional heat to build up in the tires due to the extra flexing. The car has to work harder reducing your fuel economy. With under inflated tires the handling becomes unpredictable at best. Braking is also significantly reduced.
3) Not allowing turbo to cool down – How many people with turbo driven engine drive it hard and then fail to allow the turbo to cool down properly? In Europe more and more production cars have turbo to meet emissions and power requirements. The turbo is spinning at between 100,000 rpm and 200,000 rpm and gets very hot, the moment you turn off the engine you starve it of fresh oil, unless your cars oil pump keeps running. The oil in the turbo gets fried and essentially leaves your turbo spinning with no lubrication. Your turbo will need replacing if this is your driving style.
4.) Driving hard on a cold engine! Don’t use higher engine RPMs when cold – until an engine is warm it will run rich. Your engine is most at risk from damage when cold, so putting undue stress on it by high revving will exponentially increase the damage done. The combustion process does not become efficient until the engine reaches its operating temperature. An inefficient burn leaves acids and other toxins that eat your engine. The oil also takes a short while to flow properly so ideally you would let the engine tick over for 3-10 seconds, then drive off at a steady pace keeping under 2-3000 rpm. Do not use the top half of the rev range until the engine reaches operating temperature. This applies as much to modern engines with catalytic convertors as it does on older engines. Don’t leave the engine idling to warm it up, just drive it!
5.) Short journeys – Just as driving off too quickly damages an engine so will doing short journeys. The problem with a short journey is that the engine never reaches its operating temperature. So for the reasons detailed in the driving off too quickly do not drive short distances. (Use the under 1 mile – walk philosophy!) The engine oil needs to reach its optimum viscosity to properly lubricate the main moving components in the engine. While cold the catalyst is unable to operate at peak efficiency thus reducing the life of your expensive catalyst.
6.) Revving too high – The red line indicates the maximum permissible engine speed. At this point the engine is under enormous stress and the components are moving at their fastest speed. Slight imbalances in the engine are emphasized at high rpm and if you prolong the high rpm for a period of time you will more than likely throw a connecting rod through the sump (or worse). The older an engine is, the lower the red line should be. As an engine starts to produce most of its power across the middle third of its rev band there is little point exceeding this.
7.) Hand on gear stick – So many people do this but it can actually cause premature gear wear. The stick is connected directly to the gearbox so the slightest pressure is transmitted to the gear selector. This is enough to cause wear and eventually your gearbox will start to grind and crunch as you change gear.
8.) Riding the clutch – Again keeping a foot on the clutch is enough to prevent it from fully engaging. The clutch plate will tend towards slip and will prematurely wear. Keeping the clutch depressed in traffic or at traffic lights is also a bad idea. When the clutch is depressed your are forcing the clutch against the release bearing. Eventually the release bearing will just give up having done 60,000 miles worth of pressure in just 10,000.
9.) Wrong gear selection – Nothing puts a strain on the engine like forcing it to pull the car in the wrong gear. Too high a gear strains the bottom end of the engine around the crank and con rods. Too low a gear will mean you are revving more than you need to so the top end of the engine around the valves; cams and lifters are working too hard.
10.) Driving a dirty car – This one is a little contentious but corrosion takes effect more easily on a car which is covered with a layer of dirt. A thorough clean each month and a coat of good quality wax (not polish) will do much to enhance the cars defense against corrosion.
So how many of these are you guilty of? Have we missed any out? Why not join us in our active forum and chat with our friendly resident car enthusiasts to pick up some more top tips.