Posted on: Oct. 21, 2017 in Driving, Cars

Most of us own cars that are meant to be driven. It might be to shuffle kids around to school and activities or to drive to work every day. The irony, of course, is that driving is what can ultimately lead to the need for a new car. Wear and tear is a fact of life, but certain driving habits are harder on your vehicle than others.

Commuting and Your Car

If you’re lucky enough to cruise to work in the opposite direction of most traffic or you go in at odd hours, you may not see your car suffer from the damaging effects of rush hour commuting. For most of us, the stop-and-go nature of rush hour commuting is likely a major drain on the life of our cars. The reason, of course, is that steady driving is simply better for most of your car parts. The three most-affected parts of your car are your engine, transmission, and brakes.

  • Engine: The steadiness of your speed, rather than the speed itself, is what helps keep your engine humming. Most were designed for a cruising speed of 50 to 70 miles per hour, so they can readily handle a long stretch of highway. But slowing down and starting up puts more pressure on your engine and wears it out faster. If you tend to get stuck standing still on the road for longer stretches, that extended idling isn’t good for the engine either.
  • Transmission: Your transmission helps your wheels get the right amount of power to do their job and shifts gears to make that happen. Stop-and-go traffic is a nightmare for your transmission because it must work extra hard. Like the engine which functions better at a cruising speed, your transmission will last longer when you’re not altering your speed constantly.
  • Brakes: The very nature of traffic means you’re riding with your foot on the brake for extended periods. If there’s suddenly more traffic than you expected, you may need to brake hard from time to time. The more you use the brakes, the more worn they will become.

Trips Around Town

If you’re lucky enough to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic on a daily basis, it’s possible your car is being driven locally. It may be that your commute is short or that your car is used primarily for school carpool and local errands. You may think that this is much better on your car. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Essentially, your car is doing the same thing while city-driving than it is in traffic: frequent stops and frequent changes in speed. Starting your engine can also be hard on the car, so while you may not be idling and going nowhere, you may be turning the car on and off more frequently. You’re at higher risk for pot holes and other uneven road surfaces which will cause additional wear on your tires and suspension.

Maintenance and Prevention

The best thing you can do for your car is to keep it properly maintained to prevent more severe issues. Have it looked over regularly by a mechanic to catch problems early before they start becoming costly. Keeping your fluids filled, regularly changing the oil, and caring for tires and brakes will go a long way to keep your vehicle running as well as possible for many miles to come.

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