Blog: 9 bad driving habits new drivers should avoid

Blog: 9 bad driving habits new drivers should avoid

One of the first things people always say when you pass your test is to avoid picking up too many bad driving habits! But do we listen? Not very often.

However, the truth of the matter is that these habits can have detrimental and sometimes very serious consequences for the health of your car.

We’ll talk you through some of the habits you need to avoid picking up, or try and drop if you’re already doing them. We’ll also explain what it is about these habits that is ruining your car.

1.  Not using the parking brake/handbrake

It can be easy to get into the habit of just leaving the car without putting on the parking brake, especially in automatic cars. But don’t be fooled, just because you’ve shifted the transmissions into ‘park’ or put it into a gear and it feels stable, this may not be the case.

With automatic cars, when the car is left in park without the parking brake on, the entire weight of the car is essentially resting on a metal pin inside the gearbox, as I’m sure you can imagine, this isn’t ideal.

Using the parking brake provides a stronger, sturdier hold on the vehicle and reduces strain on other parts of the car. The parking brake system itself also needs to be used regularly to reduce the risk of the cables and callipers seizing and it ultimately failing.

2.  Not letting the car stop before shifting into reverse, and vice versa

We know that sometimes when you’re in a hurry it can be tempting to change the car into reverse as quickly as possible, or vice versa. But the change of direction before the car has properly come to a stop can be damaging to the gearbox as well as the clutch (in manual cars) or the torque converter (in autos). This will be very costly to get fixed!

3.  Resting your hand on the gearstick

We all do it, especially when anticipating a gear change or two, but this will wear down your gear selector fork inside the box, and could cause a serious and potentially very pricy problem. It may be difficult to see why leaning your hand on the stick can cause so much damage, but even the smallest amount of pressure can be detrimental to the delicate internal gear system.

Additionally, both hands should be kept on the wheel as much as possible. 9 and 3, remember?

4.  Riding the clutch uphill

This habit is very common amongst new drivers who haven’t become confident with their clutch positioning yet. It’s understandable, especially when driving uphill. But resting your foot partially on the clutch for too long is only going to wear it out prematurely and cause you an expensive trip to the garage.

The best thing to do when queuing up a hill is to apply the foot brake whilst you shift the gears into neutral, disengage the clutch and put the handbrake on. This way you won’t be using loads of fuel unnecessarily, won’t be wearing down your clutch, and you’ll have the use of both feet for the pedals when you need to move off again.

5.  Riding the brakes downhill

Brake wear and tear is something that warranty rarely covers and something that you definitely want to avoid for safety reasons. The brake discs on your car are prone to getting very warm, especially with lengthy downhill braking, as they cause friction when applied. The mechanism is designed so that, when driven normally, it can cool itself down as air moves past it. However, when the brakes are applied for a length of time, even if they’re only applied lightly, this can cause the components to heat up without the chance to cool down properly. The implications of this can be serious, with brakes warping, wearing unevenly, or even failing!

The best thing to do when you need to decrease speed downhill is to use your engine, shifting to a lower gear will use the engine to slow you down. Alternatively, you can use the brakes in shorter, more forceful applications if necessary.

6.  Accelerating at low revs

It’s easy to become obsessed with getting the best MPG you can and driving economically to save yourself some pennies, and it’s true that keeping your RPM (revs per minute) low can help with this. But how low is too low?

This can be dependent upon the driving situation as well as the type of engine you are driving. Generally, if your car feels like it’s struggling then it is, and if your revs are less than 1200 then you could be damaging your engine.

The stress caused to your engine when accelerating with low revs can lead to some serious damage including overheating or cracked pistons.

The most optimal revs for economical driving is around 2000 to 2500 for diesels, and between 2000 to 3000 for petrol vehicles, so try and use your gears effectively to stay around there and you could save yourself some pennies on garage bills as well as fuel bills!

7.  Accelerating heavily when your engine is cold

This is one of the worst habits you can get into. Your engine needs to be lubricated properly in order to run properly, and to be lubricated the oil needs to have warmed up enough to run through the engine. Therefore, if you’re accelerating heavily before the oil has warmed then the engine is not lubricated properly and can become damaged.

8.  Not slowing down for speed bumps

Speed bumps can seem like a nuisance at times, but if you don’t slow down for them you could be facing bigger problems than just inconvenience.

Your car is suspended by springs which are protected by the ‘shocks’; they are there to absorb any vibrations, bumps or imperfections you may experience during your journey. However, if your car hits something with greater force than normal, the shocks are unlikely to be able to absorb this and they can fail. The springs may also break which can be relatively expensive to get fixed.

9.  Not letting your turbo cool down

This is more of an issue for high performance vehicles, but it’s something to bear in mind if your car is turbo charged.

Inside your turbo there is a part called a bearing, and when the turbo is spinning the bearing gets very hot. Engine oil passes through the bearing in order to keep it cool and lubricated.

If the bearing is not cooled enough then it can seize and break, or even fail whilst you’re driving. If this happens then it can cause a smoky exhaust, or even cause the oil to pour out on the exhaust pipe. If your engine loses all of the oil, then it is potentially game over! A very pricy problem to fix!

To avoid this happening, when you’ve reached the end of your journey, it’s best to give the engine a couple of gentle revs (once you’re parked up and the engine isn’t under load). This will run some oil through the bearing and cool it down enough to prevent any breakages!

We hope you found this helpful, and hope it will prevent you from having to make any pricy trips to the garage!

But, should you have any problems with your car, then feel free to pop into one of our on-site Service Centres. We offer a range of services including MOTs, Servicing, brake replacement, and tyre inspection and replacement.

We also offer a free health check, giving your vehicle the once over by checking vital fluids, tyres, brakes and battery condition!


  • On: 02 August 2018
  • By: CarShop

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