Advice Fact List

Auto Advice: Inconsequential Things Drivers Do That Damage their Cars

Continuing with the Monday Advice segment, we asked former car expert and mechanic this question. Here are his answers and suggestions. Due to the length of the article we have split it into two pages. So do check out the next page too.

Italian Tuneup

Many drivers almost exclusively take short trips, never allowing their vehicles to get up to temp, and always babying their car, especially direct injection engines. It is important for your vehicle to get up to operating temperature, and also for you to flog it from time to time. Failure to do so will result in large amounts of carbon deposits on your intake valves. Carbon deposits can build to the point where your car will not run correctly. This can be dealt with by driving the hell out if it from time to time AKA the Italian tune up. Some high end customers end up paying mechanics money to take their car out for them, and drive the hell out of it, knocking the carbon off the valves. If it’s too bad, mechanics have to take off the intake and clean them manually. So accelerate hard once in a while. Say you’re getting on the highway, and the coast is nice and clear, just slam on the accelerator to get up to 100 kph or whatever the speed limit is. Be safe though.

Changing Oil

Not changing your oil regularly. Your best bet is to use the car’s recommended change. You can go an extra 5,000 usually without ever hurting it but doing it constantly will ruin your car. Newer cars are anywhere from 5000 – 15000 miles depending on how they’re used, the type of oil, etc. Your vintage car should stick to 3000 intervals though. If you’re driving a newer car, many of those have a computerized system for determining when you need an oil change. The manufacturer tells you to change your oil at that point. However, if you’re driving your old car until your low oil light comes on, then you’re definitely doing it wrong. Your car will be running on less than a healthy amount of oil for a good while before the light comes on and overtime will mess up your engine.

attractive woman parking her car

Not stopping when you change from reverse to drive (or vise versa) after you back up will screw up your transmission in an automatic. Manual transmissions don’t have this issue. In any case, doing it at a significant speed will break something for sure.

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Having the right tire pressures is one thing you need to check. It will cause uneven tire wear and cost you a lot of money in the long run. The pressure will change with the weather. A tire set in the summer may be too low in the winter. Driving on bald tires will not directly damage your car, but the truck, wall, tree, etc. you plow into when you hydroplane will do serious damage. Don’t skimp on tires. Also, when you inflate your tire, inflate the spare as well. Many people forget this. A spare can only be used if it’s aired up.


Riding the brakes

Riding the brakes can cause too much heat and crack the pads. A lot of times people “ride their brakes” down a steep hill. This means being on the brakes for the entirety of the hill. Pumping your brakes will reduce heat buildup. i.e. “on the brakes” slow down a little, “release the brakes” coast (this allows cool air hit the rotors/drums), “on the brakes” slow down again. This, along with downshifting (engine braking) into a lower gear will decrease brake pad and rotor wear over time and avoid rotor warping due to excessive heat.

Warped Rotors

Driving through deep puddles after hard braking will warp your rotors every single time. The term warped rotors is used typically to refer to both uneven wear and distortions. In simple terms, braking hard causes your brake rotors to get hot. Driving into a deep puddle straight away after braking hard causes them to cool down too quickly, warping them. By warping, I mean the metal rotor twisting so it’s not flat anymore.

Heavy Key Chain

Hanging a lot of things off of your keychain can actually break the ignition. I’ve seen this happen to so many people.

Rotating tires

Not rotating tires. During rotation, each tire and wheel is removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position to ensure that all tires wear evenly and last longer. Tires should be rotated every six months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles. People don’t rotate tires and so the tires wear out super-fast. You need to rotate your tires also because it’s a good chance to inspect the tires for hidden damage, and to check out your brakes and suspension for defects.

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