10 Mistakes You Unknowingly Do and Damage Your Car

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Edgar Moulton.

01.09.2021

Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

Table of contents

Everyone knows that driving your car dangerously or recklessly increases the chances of an accident and is a good way on how to destroy your car. But what about lesser known, but still common habits that can destroy your car

If you have never heard of these all too common habits, read on to make sure you’re not doing any of these habits that could be damaging your car. Avoiding these mistakes at all costs is like another version of auto insurance for your car, so be sure to pay attention or else you’ll end up with a broken car in need of repairs

Mistake #1: Driving hard on a cold engine

Your car's engine is obviously made of metal, which expands and contracts as temperatures rise and fall. The fluids (motor oil, transmission fluid, etc.) within the engine also must reach their working temperatures in order to be viscous enough to circulate properly. When you drive your car too hard (i.e., accelerating hard) when the engine and the fluids inside it haven’t warmed up yet, it will lead to premature strain on the moving parts in your engine. 

It was a long held belief that one had to “warm up your engine” by leaving it at idle for a few minutes, but that’s no longer the recommendation. What IS the recommendation is to let it idle for about 15 seconds to let the oil pressure build, then drive it around, keeping RPMs in the lower third of the rev range. This is handy advice if you live where winter weather drops below freezing. 

Mistake #2 Driving on the incorrect tire pressure

Your tires have a designated pressure on them for a reason. If they’re overinflated, they risk a blowout (particularly on the highway, where it’s most dangerous). If they’re inflated to less than they should be, it can result in a few different issues. When they’re underinflated, the sidewall of the tire isn’t the shape it should be and greatly increases friction (and heat) which can severely mess up your tires. Underinflated tires also don’t perform like they’re supposed to, which makes your car not handle as well as it should and more prone to getting into a crash. Driving on underinflated tires will also increase rolling resistance, making your engine work harder to keep the car moving at the same speed as a car with properly inflated tires. This results in lost gas mileage, as well. 

Always be sure to check the sidewall of your tire and read the designated tire pressure. Do a quick check of the tire pressure (with a tire pressure gauge) about once a month to make sure it’s correct. This is especially important around the time the seasons change. A change in ambient temperature will change the pressure of your tires. 

Mistake #3 Not changing your oil often enough

It used to be the general rule to change your motor oil every 3000 miles. With recent technological advances, motor oil quality has improved, and it is now suggested to change it between 5000 and 7000 miles (and even some very high-quality oils will last up to 15,000 miles!). Whatever your motor oil is rated to, it’s best to keep an eye on the odometer and take your car in for an oil change when it reaches the desired mileage. Some people don’t realize the importance of oil changes and try to stretch the mileage possible, but this is sure to lead to problems and is one of the most common ways to damage your car’s engine. 

Mistake #4 Using the wrong motor oil

If you’ve gone to a gas station or car parts store and looked at the motor oil aisle, you’ve surely seen a large selection of oils — each with different numbers on them. 

5W-30 and 10W-40, for example. The letter W stands for “winter” and signifies the viscosity of the oil in cold weather before the engine temperature (and oil temperature) rises. The number after represents the viscosity of the oil when it’s at its intended operating temperatures. Because every car is different and driven in different climates, it’s essential to select the correct motor oil viscosity for you and the season you drive it in. This doesn’t mean you have to change your oil with the seasons, but rather make sure you have an oil that will work well in temperatures all year round.

If you get your car serviced by a mechanic and they change the oil for you, they will check which oil is recommended for your car in your geographic location. If you change it yourself, you must be sure to select the correct oil, as using the wrong one will surely cause problems in the not too distant future. 

Mistake #5: Revving your engine too high

This is particularly relevant in cars with manual transmissions. Cars with automatic transmissions will almost always upshift before your engine reaches redline (or at redline), preventing you from exceeding it. This is called a “rev-limiter.” 

Hitting the rev limiter too often means you’re pushing your engine too hard and will lead to more wear and tear than necessary. Your rev limiter only works to stop your car from exceeding redline while accelerating, however. If you were in manual transmission and you were to downshift to too low of a gear, your engine revs will climb far too high, and your rev limiter won’t be able to stop it. If this happens and you go over the redline, you will damage the internal parts of the engine (throwing a rod, for example), and this is one of the ways to kill your car’s engine. 

Mistake #6: Riding the clutch

This is also only relevant in manual transmission cars, but it’s worth pointing out. “Riding the clutch” is when you’re driving along in gear, and your left foot is resting on the clutch pedal, even if it’s only slightly. When your car is in gear, the clutch must be fully engaged to provide enough friction to prevent it from slipping. If it does slip while you’re in gear, the friction levels don’t “catch” the plate, and it will slip as you drive. This causes your clutch to wear out much faster than it should and is one of the driving habits that will kill your car’s transmission very fast.

Mistake #7: Using the wrong gear selection

This is more common in manual transmission cars but can be an issue in automatic cars with malfunctioning transmissions. Some people will keep their car in a gear that keeps RPM’s way too low (often thinking they are using less gas while driving. But trying to accelerate in gear too high (and RPM’s too low) might save you a bit of money on gas but will cost you far more in engine maintenance in the long term. This is called “lugging the engine” and forces your engine to move the car out of the ideal rev range, putting excess strain on your engine, leading to more wear and tear than necessary. You can feel this happening at low RPMs when the car “lugs” along, which feels like a very short burst of acceleration followed by a loss in acceleration and so on until the engine’s RPMs reach optimal range. 

Mistake #8: Driving your car with a low fuel level

This is one of the surprising habits that damage your car. This is for two reasons. There may be sludge in your gas tank (no gasoline is completely clean, after all), and keeping the gas level low keeps the relative dirt particle count higher than if it were clean. 

Also, in most modern cars, the fuel pump is located inside the gas tank. If the fuel level is low, the pump may be above the fuel level and won’t be submerged to cool the pump off as it should. Occasionally driving around with low fuel levels won’t do too much damage, but regularly driving around like this is one of the ways to ruin a car’s fuel pump. It’s best to aim to have your gas tank half full at all times. 

Mistake #9: Not changing your filters often enough

Your car has four main filters: the cabin filter, the engine air filter, fuel filter, and oil filter. A filter is a thin membrane that filters out contaminants from the air, fuel, and oil to make sure only clean air and oil go into your engine. 

Failure to change these filters at regular intervals means they will be clogged, and your engine will need to strain harder to suck in the air and fuel. Not only that, but when they are clogged, they may lose their ability to filter your fuel and air effectively, and these contaminants will enter your engine. This will sabotage your engine's ability to run properly. Along the same lines, your cabin filter helps protect you and your passengers by filtering out contaminants from the air and pushing clean air into the car through your air conditioner and heater. 

Mistake #10: Ignoring your check engine light 

It’s never fun to start your car and see the check engine light illuminated on your dashboard. While ignoring it may seem like a temporary solution, it will surely lead to much larger repairs down the road. Your check engine light is connected to your car’s computer, which has sensors all over the car to make sure everything is working as it should. If something isn’t working, the sensor will notify the computer, which notifies you (via the check engine light) that something’s wrong. Ignoring this warning is one of the top ways on how to kill a car. 

If your ruined your car, you can sell it for cash

Unfortunately, these ten mistakes will send your automobile to an early grave. That’s why we share these articles with you so you can avoid the mistakes on how to damage a car and avoid the early death. But what happens if you’ve already committed these mistakes and your car is already ruined?

That’s where JunkCarsUS comes in! We have been offering cash for junk cars all across the USA for 12 years and have become the number one junk car buyer in your area for a good reason. Over the years, we have developed a simple three-step process for turning your junk car into cash without any hassle.

  1. Contact us! We can’t buy your car unless you tell us you want to sell it. So reach out to us at (855) 547-1550 or fill out an online application to let us know you have a junk car to get rid of. After we get information from you — the year, the make, the model, the mileage, and the condition of your car, we’ll give you a cash offer right on the spot. (Or in 90 seconds if you go to our scrap car value calculator). 
  2. Accept our offer! Once you get our cash offer, we will never go back on it. We offer a highest price guarantee for any junk car service in your area. Once you accept, tell our team member the location of the car and the most convenient time to pick it up, and we’ll be there. We even offer same-day services! And arrange for your…
  3. FREE towing! As we said, what we offer is what you get in your pocket. There are no hidden charges or fees when you work with JunkCarsUS, and that includes free towing. One of our trusted tow truck drivers will arrive at your location with cash in hand and paperwork all filled out and ready for you to sign before safely towing it away, leaving you with nothing but cold hard cash in your hand.

Like we mentioned, our team has been doing this so long that we’re experts at even the paperwork part of getting rid of a junk car, which means we’ll have it all taken care of for you. It really is as easy as making a call, accepting the offer, and setting up a time to get your junk car out of your hair. So contact us at (855) 547-1550 or fill out an online application and start the process of getting rid of your damaged car! 

FAQ

  • What are major habits that might lead to destroying your car?

Some major habits that might lead to ruining your car are: revving your engine too high, not changing your oil often enough, using the wrong motor oil, ignoring your check engine light, and driving hard on a cold engine. These are pretty big mistakes that will eventually cost you a lot in repairs. 

  • What are some minor mistakes that might lead to destroying your car?

Some minor mistakes that lead to the slow destruction of your car are: driving on tires that are at the incorrect pressure, driving your car with a low fuel level, not changing your filters often enough, riding the clutch, and using the wrong gear selection.  

Edgar Moulton.

01.09.2021

Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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