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Is it OK to drive your car hard?

5 Signs You’re Driving Your Car Too Hard

Come on now, admit it, we’ve all done it — acted like we were the star of our own action movie «Drive Hard!» Whether it was when we were young and new behind the wheel, or whether it’s just become a character trait of your driving, it happens to everyone. We’ve all pushed a car a bit too hard, and generally speaking, cars don’t like that.

Get yourself a race car and you can thrash it to within an inch of its life, which is why they spend off weekends in the shop, but do the same with your road car and bits will start to fall off. So what are the signs that you are in an abusive relationship with your car? Worry not, as we’ve listed the top five right here…

1) You spend too much time at the pumps

This is the simplest one. If you only get fuel $10 at a time, you’re obviously going to be on first name terms with homeless man who wants to wash your windows. But if you’re filling up every time and yet still find yourself on his Christmas card list, it may be time to look at your driving style.

The more aggressive you are on the throttle, the more fuel you use. And if that sounds like an obvious conclusion to reach, it’s because it is.

What many hard drivers fail to realize is that all that revving, all those late gear-changes, all that getting to the speed limit as fast as possible… it achieves nothing in your day to day commute. You just get to that red light a few seconds sooner. Just relax your driving, you’ll still get to your destination at the same time. Trust us.

2) What’s that smell?

Cars are funny things. Much like a pet, it has ways of letting you know when it is not well. For example, one way they’ll communicate with you is through smell. If you’re hammering your motor, it will tell your nose.

If it smells hot, then it’s too hot. If you can smell a musky, horrid, foul smell, that’ll be your clutch burning up from slipping. Can you smell a burning odor akin to a damp fire, that’ll be your brakes cooking. If you can smell tomato soup, your drive home from the supermarket was far too vigorous.

3) It used to work, but now it doesn’t…

Things wear out on cars, that’s a given, but the speed at which they wear out is very much down to the way you drive it. For example, if you find it’s getting harder to select gears, that could be a sign you’re shifting too aggressively, as the syncros and bushings could be worn.

Bumps and clonks from under the car could be a sign that control arm bushings or anti-roll bar end links are worn. Or maybe your suspension is creaking or your car wallow over bumps and dips – have you blown the shock absorbers? Quite probably.

4) Feeling tired

This is the most obvious one, but if you’re having to replace the tires every year, that’s a dead giveaway that you’re pushing your car too hard. The brakes do their best, and the suspension works hard, but at the end of the day, every input you feed into the car is translated onto the road by the tires.

A normal driving style should see 10,000 miles from even sticky sports car tires, and normal passenger cars can go 50,000 miles if driven in a relaxed manner . But if you throw the car into every corner with reckless abandon, you could half or even quarter that.

5) (Try and) start your engines

A tired car is not a forgiving car. If you push it too hard, too often, it will reward you by being reluctant to start in the morning. And that could be because the battery or starter don’t like all the heat you’ve been generating under the hood. Or it could be worse, like worn rings and pistons from oil starvation as you corner like Steve McQueen, or a gasket that has started to leak because you overheated it and warped the head.

Cars are designed to be driven, but not abused. And generally speaking, they don’t suddenly fail to start for no good reason.

10 Bad Habits That Damage Your Car

These little mistakes we do every day are slowing killing our cars.

By Alex Leanse Published: Nov 11, 2016

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Buying a car is a big investment, and for most of us, a car is something we want keep running as long as possible. But sometimes our own bad habits are a car’s worst enemy. Which ones are you guilty of?

Ignoring the Parking Brake

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Even if you’re parked on a level surface, there’s really no reason not to use the parking brake. Not engaging the parking brake puts the entire weight of your vehicle on a little piece of metal in the transmission called the parking pawl. It’s only about as big as your finger, so it can wear out or break eventually from holding all that weight. Using the parking brake evens the load, helping delicate transmission components last longer.

Keeping the Gas Tank Low

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Lots of us have been in a situation where putting $10 in the gas tank is the best we can do at the time. What you might not know is that ponying up a little extra could help to prevent damaging a car’s fuel system. Many fuel pumps keep cool by staying submerged in the fuel in the tank, so if you’re regularly running at a quarter full or less, you risk speeding up the need for a fuel pump replacement. Paying a little more at the gas station might sting, but it won’t hurt nearly as much as needing a new fuel pump.

Suddenly Shifting From Reverse to Drive

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Picture this: you’re backing out of a parking space. The coast is clear, so you flick the shifter and start moving forward. Sound familiar? This might not seem so bad in the moment, but over time sudden direction changes like this can really damage your drivetrain. Instead, come to a complete stop before switching. It only adds a second of time and will save you from future engine, transmission, or axle damage.

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Revving Before the Engine Is Warm

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Letting your car sit for a minute or two right after it starts is a good idea. It helps distribute oil throughout the engine and get the engine block and engine oil up to temperature. Revving the engine won’t speed up the process. In fact, that could cause easily avoided damage. Cold revving causes abrupt temperature changes that create stress between the engine’s tight-fitting components. Simply give it 60 seconds before you get on the road, and everything will have warmed up for reliable performance.

Flooring It When You Don’t Need To

Every car enthusiast feels the temptation for a full-throttle blast every once in a while. A problem with that is that you usually need to mash on the brakes to slow back down. Neither is good for your car. Hard acceleration burns a ton of fuel (ok, maybe not for a Tesla) and places heavy load on drivetrain components. Full-force stops cause rapid wear to the brake pads and rotors. Resist the urge to drive like this. If you can’t, know that repair bills will arrive sooner than later.

Using the Shifter as a Hand Rest

Close up of a hand down-shifting a manual transmission car.

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Driving a manual transmission car can be great fun, and when you’re rowing through the gears, it feels natural to leave one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the shift lever. Don’t. Leaving your hand on the shifter causes puts strain on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers, leading to premature wear. It’s best to keep both hands on the wheel anyway. You’ll help your transmission, and be able to take control if you need to make a sudden steering maneuver.

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Abusing the Clutch

The 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth is an exciting performance version of the Fiat 500, and is intended to compete directly with other pocket rockets such as the Mini Cooper S. Besides numerous aerodynamic modifications, an optional 200 hp engine is offered, along with Brembo four-piston brakes, racing-tuned shock absorbers, a reinforced chassis, and track-sharpened steering.

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Lots of stick shift drivers do this one. When you’re at a stop, you keep the clutch pushed to the floor. That way you can inch forward as traffic moves, or be ready to take off when the light turns green. However, keeping the clutch in when you’re stopped causes its surfaces to scrape against each other, wearing them out and creating the possibility of failure. It also can cause damage to the release bearing, release arm, and pressure plate. Instead of riding the clutch with the shifter in gear, find Neutral with the shifter and let the clutch out. When it’s time to go, put the clutch in, grab first, and drive.

Carrying Too Much Weight

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The more a car weighs, the more stress it places on its drivetrain, suspension, and brakes, and the more fuel it consumes – it’s as simple as that. Do what you can to keep your car as light as possible. We’re not suggesting ripping out the air conditioning or sound system, but clean out any unnecessary junk. While a few pounds of weight removed might only give you an extra mile on a tank of gas, it can really make a difference in the long run. Make sure your car is stocked with the essentials you need on a daily basis and store the rest somewhere else.

Riding the Brakes Downhill

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Sometimes you’ve got to brake when going downhill to keep from going way too fast. But this causes heat to build up in the brake pads and rotors, causing wear and increasing the risk that they will overheat or warp. As a solution, try shifting into a lower gear. The natural decompression that occurs in the drivetrain will help keep the car at a safe speed. That way, if you do need to hit the brakes, you’ll find they’re more effective.

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