Eight bad habits that reduce the life of your car – Evening edition Ouest-France – 07/09/2022

Eight bad habits that reduce the life of your car - Evening edition Ouest-France - 07/09/2022

Wednesday, September 7, 2022


The French spend an average of €848 a year on car maintenance. The fault many times are the bad habits that affect the mechanics of your car. Here are eight things to avoid to stop enriching your garage.

Our bad driving habits are costly. They damage vehicles, while the French spend an average of €848 a year on car maintenance. Here are eight behaviors to avoid to preserve your car.

1. Challenge speed bumps

More and more municipalities are installing speed bumps to reduce accidents. It is not enough to discourage some drivers, who do not hesitate to rush into the obstacle. A practice that damages the entire suspension system.

With a slightly low car, the bumper and underside of the car will also scrape the pavement and be damaged. You must approach a retarder at less than 30 km/h. No need to suddenly speed up again afterwards, because in some areas they happen every 10 meters! Be even more careful that many devices do not comply with the regulations and exceed 10 cm in height, according to a survey by Auto Plus magazine.

2. Take repeated short trips

Diesel engines must travel at least 15 km for the self-cleaning particulate filter system to activate. Therefore, short trips of less than 5 km or traffic jams will cause the injectors to clog. However, a simple 5 micrometer deposit on an injector is enough to reduce its flow rate by 25%! If the injection is no longer carried out correctly, the particulate filter becomes clogged, causing the manifold and valves to clog. Result: lack of power, jerks, increased consumption and pollution, even engine failure. In short, if your car is mainly used to take the children to school, forget about diesel!

3. Keep your hand on the gear lever

Letting the right hand rest on the lever is not only dangerous (the driver is always supposed to keep both hands on the wheel), but it also damages the gearbox over time. In fact, the lever is connected to a control rod that activates a fork in contact with the teeth. When constant pressure is exerted on it, the fork rubs against the rotating neck of the teeth, causing premature wear of the teeth. Also, keeping the clutch pedal depressed all the time increases friction on the clutch disc. So even at a red light, put your feet up!

4. Roll the tank almost empty

As with cell phone batteries, we usually wait until the last minute to recharge them. In addition to the risk of running out of fuel, driving with a nearly empty tank risks damaging the engine. Indeed, the pump used to circulate the gasoline must be permanently lubricated by it. On the other hand, debris and dirt accumulated at the bottom of the tank will clog the fuel filter and injectors (especially on diesel vehicles). That said, constantly driving with a full tank overloads the vehicle and leads to excessive consumption. So it’s all about finding the right compromise.

5. Brake too often

Slow down, speed up, brake again… Untimely braking causes overheating of the discs and brake pads, which can reduce their useful life to less than 5,000 km compared to 20,000 km with smoother driving. Too frequent braking will also lead to excessive fuel consumption of up to 40%. Also avoid keeping your foot on the pedal: you risk “sticking” the pads to the heated brake disc. Remember to use the engine brake (downshift) when going downhill and in traffic jams. Another simple trick: look into the distance to anticipate slowdowns and intersections to slow down without having to hit the brakes.

6. Leaving useless objects lying around

Bottles of water, books and road maps, sports equipment or an empty roof rack… We tend to leave a lot of objects lying around in the trunk or in the lockers. This additional weight will affect all the components of the vehicle: tires, brake pads, suspension. On the other hand, overloading increases particulate emissions, reduces road holding and can cause tires to blow out. Finally, keep in mind that driving a vehicle whose weight exceeds the GVW (Gross Authorized Weight) exposes you to a fine of €90 for excess weight of 500 kg. If you have a heavy load to bring, consider having it delivered.

7. Driving with under-inflated or over-inflated tires

A tire whose pressure is less than 0.4 bar compared to that recommended in its manual not only causes excessive fuel consumption but also reduces the useful life of the tire by 25%. Under-inflated tires also increase the risk of accidents by impairing road holding: 9% of motorway fatalities are due to under-inflated or poorly maintained tyres. Conversely, over-inflating tires is not a good idea: the entire weight of the vehicle rests on the center tread. Therefore, the tire is more likely to skid and blow out when it hits a pothole or curb.

8. Leave your car parked outside

Besides the fact that it is more likely to be stolen or damaged, parking your car on the street reduces its lifespan. Paint and interior plastic will darken in the sun, while snow and rain will accelerate body rust. In the long term, moisture will seep into fuel and brake fluid and corrode electrical and electronic connections. Ultimately, large temperature differences lead to premature wear of seals, belts, and hoses.

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