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6 Sure-fire Ways to Ruin Your Ride

Your car is most likely your second largest investment, if not your first. Proper care and maintenance is the key to keeping your ride alive on the long road ahead. Cars have gotten more efficient and technical, which is great for driving, but can make potential problems pricier to fix.

Studies show that younger drivers are often more careless about their cars, usually due to a fundamental lack of knowledge in proper upkeep. It’s important to cover basic car care with your adolescent drivers so they can take preventative measures and be able to identify when something is wrong.

But let’s be honest, teenagers aren’t the only offenders. Most of us have treated our cars as good as we treat a toaster at one point or another—choosing the cheapest gas, going as long as possible between oil changes, and assuming that the air filter is fine (that’s just a mechanic stunt to add needless expense).

If you have nodded to any of the above statements, please continue reading below to discover more sure-fire ways to ruin your ride.

How to Ruin Your Brakes

Never Using Your Emergency Brake

By never using your emergency brake when you park your car, you are forcing all of the stress onto a tiny pin in the transmission called the parking pawl. Most people who drive a manual transmission vehicle engage their emergency brake every time they park, otherwise, their car might roll away.

What is less common knowledge is that it is recommended that automatic transmission vehicles also use their emergency brake every time they park. Who knew such a little thing could add years to your transmission?!

Using Your Emergency Brake like a Stunt Driver

If you do drive with the emergency brake on, you’ll probably figure out that it’s not good for your car in a hurry. Not only does it smell like burning rubber, you’ll also find that your car has a lot easier time switching gears and moving faster when it’s disengaged. Okay, obviously, no one intentionally drives with their e-brake on . . . unless they just watched The Fast and the Furious.

It is highly recommended that you do not ever attempt to rev your engine and pull your emergency brake in an attempt to spin your car circles, not even in the snow. If you do this, you may not only kill your car, but the people inside it.

Tapping, Slamming, Stopping

Pop quiz . . . What is more annoying than hitting every red light when you are running late? The answer? Getting a bill for new brakes. However, if you answered getting cut off in traffic, we will give you the points anyway.

We all know not to slam the brakes, but when has that piece of advice actually been helpful? The only time we slam the brakes is when we have to, so here are some things you can control to lengthen the life of your brakes:

  • Don’t ride your brakes down a hill—alternate between coasting and tapping the brakes occasionally.
  • Slow to a stop—you don’t always need to have your foot on the gas pedal or the brake pedal. Let momentum move your car, you’ll save on gas in addition to minimizing the wear and tear.
  • Ignoring that sound . . . or smell—it would be virtually impossible to ignore the sound or smell of a problem with your brakes, but if you do, you are in for a wild (life-threatening) ride. Don’t do it—ever.

By riding your brakes, you can wear out your brake pads. Once completely worn out, you will hear a grinding of metal on metal. This can scratch your rotors, leading to additional damage and expense. A vibrating car is a sign of warped rotors.

It’s also important to keep your brake fluid full. Your car can leak brake fluid, which will slow the responsiveness or make your pedal stick. Having your car serviced around the recommended schedule should help you to catch any major issues before they happen.

How to Ruin Your Engine

Now that we know you won’t ruin the thing that makes you stop, it’s safe to move on to the things that will help you go.

Forgetting to Have It Serviced

Your dentist will forgive you for forgetting to floss, but your car doesn’t care if you forget this important step in healthy maintenance. Here’s why:

  • Your oil needs to be changed every 5,000 miles (at the most). When the oil is clean, everything will run smoothly. But if you have waited until your oil light has come on, you are running sticky black molasses through your engine. By regularly changing the oil in your car—you can double how long it runs!
  • An engine requires air to run—and it has to be clean. Tiny explosions are constantly happening in the combustion chambers of your engine. When the air intake is polluted or has debris in it, it can wreak havoc on your engine. Newer vehicles especially depend on fuel to air ratios in order to run properly. So, as it turns out, getting that engine filter changed is important after all! Especially considering that the cost of fixing more modern engines is significantly more.
  • Regular inspections will help monitor your fluid levels (steering, brakes, coolant, transmission, antifreeze, and wiper), as well as checking your timing belt, battery, windshield, wipers, and cabin filter. You should also have your tires rotated, balanced, and your alignment checked according to your mileage.

Repairing and maintaining your car may not be your ideal way to spend the weekend (or your cash), but treat your car right, and it will always be ready to take you wherever you want to go later!

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