The top 10 ways in which people kill their cars.

"Are you killing your car?"

Are you killing your car?

The old mantra if you look after your car, your car will look after you certainly holds true. Car ownership is becoming more and more common with many households running 2 or more cars.

Sadly though few drivers are sympathetic to, or fully understand the way their car works. A little knowledge will keep your relationship with your car running smoothly!

Without realising it many drivers are actually damaging their car or at very least running up a hefty repair bill.

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Here are the top 10 things that TorqueCars sees 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.

10 things that will help kill your car! How many are you guilty of?

1.) Missing 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 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.

Refreshing the anti-freeze which contains a corrosion inhibitor is just as important as renewing the oil, but this will generally last a few years before it needs replacing.

2.) Incorrect tire pressures  - cause additional heat to build up in the tires  due to the extra flexing.

The car has to work harder thereby reducing your fuel economy.

With under inflated tires, the handling becomes unpredictable at best. Braking is also significantly reduced so every aspect of the cars performance is compromised.

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 turbos 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. Modern synthetic oils are more resilient but we would still allow a spool down period after a spirited drive.

Your turbo will need replacing more frequently 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 converters as it does to older engines. Don't leave the engine idling to warm it up, just drive it (after giving it 30 seconds for the oil pressure to come up)!

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 emphasised 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.

You should only rev an engine when it has properly warmed up, keep to the lower third of the RPM range until then. (see point 4)

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.) Gearbox use - quite  a few people use the gearbox to slow up the car, deliberately changing into a lower gear and crashing through the gearbox.

This adds so much stress to the engine, flywheel and transmission and it is really unnecessary when you have brakes that were designed to effectively and cheaply slow up the car.

Dropping the clutch too soon. Every crunch you hear is a tiny part of your gearbox's life ebbing away.

Another thing is keeping your hand on the gear stick - So many people do this but it can actually cause premature gear wear, especially if you wiggle the stick around and it just promotes changing gear before the clutch is fully engaged.

The stick is connected directly to the gearbox (in many cars) so the slightest pressure is transmitted to the gear selector, each wobbly causing wear to the linkages.

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.

Just put the car in neutral when you are stationary. When the clutch is depressed your are forcing the clutch against the release bearing. All the clutch fairies will get tired holding the clutch open for long periods of time.

Eventually, the release bearing will just give up having done 60,000 miles worth of pressure in just 10,000. This can also cause stretching and braking of clutch cables, or just weaken the clutch causing it to slip.

9.) Wrong gear selection - Nothing puts a strain on the engine like forcing it to pull the car in the wrong gear.

Too high or too low a gear strains the engine. Listen carefully to the engine, is it screaming at high rpm or pinging and laboring at low RPMs? It's telling you that the wrong gear has been chosen.

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.

I've even seen many people choose 1st gear instead of 4th, just missing the gate, and fully letting out the clutch. It's best to be progressively gentle with the clutch and to try and get a feel for the car so you can catch these destructive mistakes before they happen.

It creates massive problems for all parts of the transmission and engine when you do this.

10.) Running a car on empty. Apart from all the sludge in the bottom of the tank which can block your fuel filter when it gets pulled through you can also damage the fuel pump.

This is designed to pull fuel through and this lubricates the pump as it goes, when this is free spinning in air, you dramatically increase the wear on the fuel pump. Keep your fuel tank topped up and make sure you always check your fuel levels before starting your car.

We should also mention that using the wrong fuel, not the obvious petrol/diesel, but rather the octane rating and ethanol content can induce a lot of wear and tear on the engine. Older engines do not run well on modern 10% Ethanol fuels, so you have been warned.

11) Throwing in a bonus thing to avoid which so many people are guilty of we have to mention your cars bodywork.

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 defence 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.

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11 Responses to “10 ways to kill your car?”

  1. vuyo says:

    very good article for new car owners like me


  2. hg70 says:

    some things i knew about but never really think about while driving. cheers

  3. stef says:

    nice article, I’m a little ashamed to admit I’ve done all of these at some point 🙁

  4. baiyiwong says:

    very useful advise! but how could you know you get a problem and which wrong operation of those made we get this problem? it is really hard to follow all of them every time!

  5. john boy says:

    I’ve grinded my gears in low gears acouple of times . I think it does cause damage in end . Yes give your car a wax it. Does help look after paint work. I could go on . But hope help .

  6. Joe says:

    I believe you need more info on item #9.

    Wrong gear selection with EXCESSIVE throttle will do so damage but floating in the higher gears at a low speed with little throttle ,a.k.a. – exposure to a low amount of torque will not put any more stress on the driveline than gonig 100% full throttle in the correct gear.

    Item #7 – resting your hand on the stick shifter will NOT damage your transmission. There is no butterfly effect here. At least in the case of the chevy cobalt, the shifter is securely held in place by a plastic shifter mount that holds the rotating assembly in place.

  7. teresa tanasi says:

    Very good article! I have an older vehicle but still many points held true Thank you and wish to see more

  8. Ghost says:

    Guilty of many of these, now that my car needs the clutch replaced(i’m second owner). It has random moments of high revving without my consent.

    PLan was to replace the release baring and clutch a week ago… but my dad’s garage isn’t finished(got a new bridge that needs to be installed).

    I hate to hurt my car in these times, but i have no choice.

  9. TCJBOLDIE says:

    When replacing the clutch I always replace the spigot bearing.

  10. handsforeyes says:

    Starting a diesel with a DMF without depressing the clutch during start up will help kill the clutch/DMF and the cam belt.
    Anither common newbie mistake is either not servicing the coolant, replacing it with non specced coolant (mixing certain different types of coolant can render them completely ineffective), or worse, replacing with plain H2O!
    Again, replacing/topping up engine oil with non specced fluid will likely end up killing the engine prematurely too.

  11. Geoff Wilson says:

    With a very hot turbo,and park up at home.Leave your engine running on idle for 90 seconds then turn off the engine.This helps to cool the turbo down will prolong the life of the turbo.

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