5 ways you're (unknowingly) abusing your car

PHOTO: sgCarMart

If you're a first-time car owner, there's probably a lot you don't know about your car. But the one thing you always make sure of is to consistently follow the recommended service intervals. That should be enough to maintain your car's reliability, right?

Well, it should, as long as you don't abuse your car. Here are several things you may have been unknowingly doing that are causing your vehicle unnecessary wear and tear.

1. Driving hard while the engine is cold

Just like humans, engines need time to warm up before they can function optimally.
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You're running late for work and are worried your boss will scold you. So, you get in your car, put on your seatbelt and start the engine. From the moment you shift into Drive, you're already gunning the car out of the carpark.

Sound familiar? If it does, you should stop doing this pronto. It causes unnecessary wear because the engine oil hasn't reached the optimal temperature to properly protect vital parts. This could lead to the piston rings wearing out prematurely, causing oil to seep into the combustion chamber.

Just as you need to warm up before starting your workout, your engine also needs time to get up to speed. Take it easy for the first 10-15 minutes and your car will be all the better for it.

2. Maintaining speed over speed bumps

Apart from being annoying, these speed bumps can also wear out your suspension faster if you keep driving over them without slowing down
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We dislike speed bumps just as much as you do, especially those narrow-and-high ones made from metal or rubber. But if you think you can drive over them without slowing down (while pretending they don't exist), think again.

Your dampers (shock absorbers) are designed to absorb undulations, maintain ride quality and keep the tyres in contact with the road. But they are not designed to go over these bumps at high speed.

Doing this not only wears out your suspension faster, but can damage your tyres as well. Spare a thought for your car and your passengers, who will definitely be in for a rough ride.

3. Shifting to P while the car is still moving

If you want to be extra sure, apply the parking brake first before shifting from Reverse to Park.
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We're all in a rush to get to work, finish work and heck, in a rush to save time. But you can surely spare a moment to let the car come to a complete stop before shifting from Drive to Park.

When P is engaged, the transmission engages a lever into a toothed wheel, which prevents the car from being pushed or rolling down a slope. Shifting into P even while the car is creeping slowly puts stress on the toothed wheel and lever.

To prevent damage to the transmission, let the car come to a complete halt before shifting into P. If you're on a slope, engage the parking brake first before shifting to Park.

4. Delaying servicing

Fully synthetic oil offers better wear resistance compared to semi-synthetic or mineral oil, but even it has its limits.
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Technically speaking, your car won't immediately break down just because you didn't service it every six months or 10,000km or at the manufacturer's specified service interval.

But continuing to delay that service appointment means your engine oil continues to degrade, lessening its protection. Fluids, such as brake fluid and coolant, would have absorbed moisture (no thanks to our humid tropical climate), also reducing their efficacy.

Keeping to the maintenance schedule helps ensure that your car stays mechanically sound as mechanics typically perform a raft of other checks as well to keep it (and the owner) safe.

5. Not rotating the tyres

Each tyre is subject to different forces and thus experiences different rates of stress and wear.
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You regularly check your tyres' pressures when they're cold, and make it a point to keep them correctly inflated. Good stuff. But if you don't rotate them every 10,000km (some even do it every 5,000km), they'll wear out sooner rather than later.

Tyres, even with correctly maintained pressures, do not wear at a constant rate. The front tyres, which have to deal with the weight of the engine and are subject to steering forces, tend to wear out quicker, especially in front-wheel drive cars.

Hence, regularly rotating your tyres helps them wear out more evenly, so that their grip is as consistent as possible.

This article was first published sgCarMart.