10 bad habits that might kill your engine
People love to blame car manufacturers for every single thing that goes wrong with their car, especially the engine. But manufacturers are not always the ones to blame. On many occasions, drivers develop habits that are “killing” their engines without them even knowing. Some of these habits don’t necessarily kill your engine over the night, they slowly chip away at your engine over months or years but the end result can be catastrophic.
Learning about your car and preventing trouble
In our experience, the only way to really avoid engine problems is by learning the basics of your car and how certain mechanisms work. This is easy and we are sure you will get the hang of it by the end of this article. We will point out the 10 most common bad habits people develop that are damaging their engines. Here they are:
Putting of scheduled maintenance
This is the number one “engine killer” out there. For some reason, many car owners seem to think that delaying regular maintenance is completely fine. It most certainly isn’t. Services like regular oil changes, coolant check-ups, water pump replacement, drive belt replacement, and so on must be done according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you are buying a used car, make sure there is a clear servicing history!
Revving and abusing a car after a cold start
Much like a person, your car enjoys an easy morning. If you are just starting up a cold car, make sure to give it a few seconds for all the moving parts to lubricate with oil. After those few seconds, make sure to take it easy until the engine warms up to its working temperature. Revving a cold engine causes greater part on part friction which in time causes problems.
Not checking your cars working temperature
Most cars are equipped with an engine temperature gauge. Make a habit of checking it every time you drive. If your car reaches its working temperature and it stays there without many fluctuations then everything is in working order (working temperature is 80 – 90°C, depends on the car). If the temperature rises above 100 or even 110, make sure to stop immediately. Something is wrong with your cooling system and the car is overheating. Overheating can damage your head gasket which is an expensive repair.
Ignoring warning lights
“Check your engine” light on your dashboard serves a purpose; detecting and preventing major damage is one of them. While it is true that in most situations you don’t need to stop immediately, it must not be ignored. Take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. On the other hand, the warning light for an overheating engine does mean you should stop as soon as possible. Learn all about the warning lights on your dashboard in your car’s manual.
Resting your foot on the clutch pedal
This is the common bad habit they should warn you about in driving school. Many people still do this without thinking they are doing damage to their clutch, flywheel, and ultimately their engine. The clutch pedal should only be used when switching gears. Resting your foot on it makes the friction disk slip which produces heat and ultimately wear.
Redlining your car often
We love speed and we bet you do too. Cars are made to be driven hard, but not all the time. Hitting your rev-limiter and driving your car at high rpm’s on a regular basis will produce more friction and heat which is not good for the long-term health of your engine.
Overloading your car
Every car has a weight and towing limit that should always be respected. Hauling a heavier load than recommended causes your engine to work harder than it is designed for. This causes significant friction of the internal moving parts. You are also damaging your suspension and brakes.
Making short trips
Short trips often mean that your engine shuts off before it gets the chance to properly warm up. This means it is constantly working below the working temperature which causes unnecessary wear of the engine.
Avoid shifting too early
We mentioned the effect that constant “high rpm” driving has on the engine, but it is also not recommended to shift prematurely. If you drive around in the 4th gear and your car struggles with acceleration, this indicates that you are putting unnecessary strain on your engine. Maintain a healthy speed for each gear. Your engine will thank you for it.
Shutting of a turbo engine immediately after stopping
This only applies if you own an engine with a turbocharger (most diesel engines and modern petrol engines like the VW TSI or Ford Ecoboost). The turbocharger is cooled with oil and we recommend that you finish each journey in one of the following manners:
– Take it easy in the last 3-5 minutes of your drive, let your turbocharger cool off.
– Once you stop, leave the engine running for 1-2 minutes so the oil pump that delivers the oil to the turbocharger keeps working and cooling the turbo. This is especially recommended after long journeys.
This will extend the life of your turbocharger significantly.
If you manage to avoid the bad habits we listed above, you will not only save yourself a headache but also a decent amount of money. Your car is not as simple as it seems, but following certain basic principles doesn’t require you to be a mechanic. If you are here, reading this we have no doubt you do your best to avoid doing unnecessary damage to your engine