After years behind the wheel, you're almost guaranteed to have picked up a few driving habits without even realizing it. Others may be harmful to you and your car. Some will be good, others will be harmless. We've compiled a list of nine key driving mistakes to avoid in order to make you aware of these mistakes and provide some safety tips along the way.
1. Warm Up Your Engine
Turning the key in the ignition may start your car, but that does not mean you should start driving immediately. The engine must reach operating temperature, the oil must reach critical components, and the RPMs must decrease for at least 10-15 seconds. Temperature and the age of your vehicle can affect how long this takes.
2. Overloading Your Car
We know that you don't want to leave anything behind when you get ready to go on a staycation or to move home. There is, however, a weight limit on every vehicle, which is detailed in the owners' manual. The drivetrain, suspension, and brakes may be affected if you exceed that threshold.
In the event that your car runs out of space, but still has the capacity to carry some additional weight, you can use external storage. When your boot is full, a roof box can be a real game changer, as it will eliminate the need to stuff your belongings inside.
When driving your car on a daily basis, make sure you remove any extra weight, as this will impact your fuel consumption.
3. Keep an eye on your tires
You should always be able to rely on a smooth ride when you are driving. In order to avoid bumpy (or unsafe) riding, one of the most important things you should check on your car is the tire pressure.
Under- or over-inflating your tires can negatively affect your vehicle's stability, performance, fuel efficiency, and braking distance. It's always best to manually check your tire pressure, even though the recommended pressure will appear on your dashboard. All the information can be found in the handbook, as well as inside the door frame.
In order to get the most from your tires, it is a best practice to check your tire pressure every couple of weeks.
4. Go Easy On Your Brakes
Putting unnecessary pressure on your brakes is one of the most common driving errors. An emergency hard brake is essential when you need to stop quickly. When approaching a red light or a stop sign, you should stay conscious of what's around you on the road, so you can gently apply the brakes. Use your gearbox to gently slow down your car when driving a manual - this is better for your brake pads and means you don't have to rely on your reaction time.
5. Don't let go of the wheel
It's common knowledge that you should hold the wheel ten-to-two during your driving lessons, but once you pass your test, this practice disappears. You can steer more efficiently and react quicker in an emergency by keeping both hands on the wheel whenever possible.
6. Pay attention to warning lights
There are symbols on your dashboard that tell you how your car is doing. A modern car's major components include its engine, cooling system, and braking system. While some warning lights will require immediate attention, others may require less immediate attention. Our helpful Dashboard Warning Lights Explained guide will help you understand what each light means and what you should do when it flashes.
Check your car regularly, while we're on the subject. If you depend on it to get you to work every day, you can't assume nothing will go wrong. Whenever the weather turns, make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition, and check your headlights, taillights, and brakes.
7. Choose the Correct Oil
You cannot run a car without oil. However, not every type of oil will work with every car. Don't always opt for the cheapest oil, as some engines and cars require thicker oil. It is possible to cause irreversible damage to your car if you use the wrong engine oil. In order to avoid being hit with a costly bill at the garage, we suggest putting your registration number into our handy fast finder tool, in order to determine which oil suits your vehicle the best.
8. Riding The Clutch
You're probably susceptible to developing one of the most common driving errors when you drive a manual car - riding the clutch. You can reduce your clutch's lifespan by keeping your foot on the pedal after you've changed gear, or when doing a hill start. You'll want to get rid of this bad habit as soon as possible because it exposes your car to wear and tear.
For a clutch that lasts as long as possible, there are some simple safe driving tips. After changing up or down, you can get into the habit of immediately moving your foot. You should also put the handbrake on and switch to neutral if you stop on a hill. As soon as you're ready to depart again, just shift it into gear.
9. Get To Know Your Gearbox
Your car's gearbox provides appropriate options according to how fast you're going and how steep the road is. Therefore, there is no need to drive in too high a gear when you'd be better off dropping down to get revs and speed up in a lower gear.
Your gearbox and engine will both thank you, and you'll save money in the long run.
For more expert guides, car safety tips, and insight on featured products, visit the FK Auto Parts Blog. If this guide has made you aware of something that might improve the safety of your driving, FK Auto Parts stocks various car parts from industry-leading brands, suitable for every make and model.