The Top 10 Bad Driving Habits That Ruin Your Engine

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Replacing the engine in your car can cost anywhere between $1000-$9000 depending on your exact car. No matter what the cost, it’s not something anyone wants to do before they have to. 

There’s a lot you can do to prevent the need to replace your engine (or get rid of your car) early like avoiding bad driving habits. When you drive efficiently, the parts in your engine will be free to do their jobs without problems and continue to work for years to come.  

To help you avoid unnecessary damage, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten bad driving habits you can quit in order to preserve your car’s engine. 

1. Hard and Sudden Braking

We’ve all been there; you’re driving down the road and the car in front of you stops all the sudden, you have no choice but to slam on your brakes as well. But if you do this often, you’re going to cause major damage to your car. 

Obviously, this kind of sudden and hard braking is bad for the brakes overall. It can wear down the pads and rotors, which are essential for the ability to stop. But that repeated action can also have a negative effect on the engine. 

Slow and steady braking allows all of the moving parts in the engine to get into the right position for stopping. Slamming on the brakes can force parts into unnatural positions and cause damage. Sometimes those hard braking instances can’t be avoided but you can avoid repeating it often if you’re paying close attention. 

2. Leaving Fluids Low

There are a lot of fluids to keep track of in any vehicle. There’s the fuel, oil, coolant, wiper fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid to name a few. It’s important to keep all of these within the acceptable range for optimal engine performance. 

Some of the most common engine problems cars experience are caused by bad oil, whether that means it’s dirty or there’s not enough. Without the oil (or not enough) the engine will seize and you won’t be able to drive your car. Similar problems will happen when other fluid levels are low; the parts they work with won’t be able to function. 

In order to avoid unnecessary damage, regularly check your fluid levels and top off any low areas. 

3. Early Shifting 

On top of the bad driving habits list is shifting early, before the engine is ready to change. Most often this happens when moving between reverse and drive. Drivers sometimes change without coming to a full, complete stop. 

While the car is capable of doing this, continual early shifting will cause major problems in your engine. 

More specifically, it can cause damage to the drivetrain (which is the part that helps control the wheels and steering). As you switch between the gears early, the parts won’t be able to complete their functions and that causes a lot of damage. 

Unfortunately, the parts that are damaged from early shifting are not easily accessible. That means repairs are labor-intensive and expensive. It’s better to get in the habit of stopping all the way before changing gears. 

4. Extra Weight 

Just because something can fit in your car doesn’t mean that you should continue to drive with it in there. Each car has its own weight limit that should be followed. 

When you fill your car to the brim it adds extra pressure to several areas, which can lead to sustained damage. Most commonly, extra weight can lead to problems with your tires and suspension system. 

But added weight can also cause the engine to strain. The more the car weighs, the more the engine system has to work to get it moving and keep it moving. This is especially true when going long distances and through hills. Keeping within the recommended weight limit will prevent overworking your engine. 

5. Flooring It 

Similar to hard braking, flooring it by slamming on the accelerator is a bad driving habit to avoid. 

Accelerating too quick, especially with an automatic engine, causes the car to move through the gears too rough. The engine won’t have enough time to make a smooth transition. This is why you’ll likely experience some jerking as you do this. If you continually force the car to accelerate quickly, it’s likely your gearshift will wear out. 

Instead, accelerate giving the car time to warm up to each level before moving on to the next. 

It’s also important to avoid revving your engine for extended periods of time. This will have a similar effect of wearing down parts within your engine that can cause sustained damage. 

6. Avoiding Leaky Tires

There are many bad habits while driving you should try to avoid, one of the most common is driving on tires with low air pressure

There are so many reasons that the air pressure in a tire can get low. It could be a change in the weather or that you have a slow leak. Often times this change in pressure can go unnoticed if you’re not diligent in checking. 

But when you drive on tires that have too low air pressure you can cause serious damage. 

A lot of that damage will happen to the tires and wheels. But it can also cause the engine to have to work harder than necessary, which results in damage from the strain. 

Regularly checking the tire pressure can help you avoid these issues. 

7. Not Warming Things Up

Some engine types require a little bit of warming up before they can run how it’s supposed to. It’s a bad driving habit to get into to not let the engine warm-up fully.

There’s not much you need to do to help your car warm up besides driving responsibly. That will include not revving your engine when it’s first been started. Take things slow and steady when you first start out. It might be a good idea to take an extra trip around the block before accelerating to a higher speed. 

When parts and fluids are heated up they can move easier. This reduces unnecessary friction and the resulting damage. 

8. Ignoring Road Damage

If you’re like most people, the roads you drive on a regular basis aren’t perfectly paved and smooth. There’s likely cracks, dips, and even potholes mingled throughout the street. 

It’s easy to get into a bad driving habit of ignoring road damage and driving right over it. 

When you drive over these rough patches, your car will shake and jump in unnatural ways. That kind of jostling can cause serious damage to your engine (not to mention your tires and suspension system). 

Driving over potholes can often be avoided when you’re paying close attention to the road ahead of you. Make note of where these problems are on your regular route so you can avoid them even when visibility is less than desirable. 

9. Improper Clutch Use 

Driving a car with a manual transmission requires much more concentration and expertise. You have to pay closer attention to the way the engine is running in order to move through the gears. 

It’s very easy to fall into good and bad driving habits while driving a stick shift. One of the most common bad habits is grinding gears instead of moving through them smoothly. It’s important to keep on top of the way you’re driving to ensure you’re not causing extra strain on the engine. 

Riding the clutch is also a common bad habit many drivers have. This means that the driver keeps their foot on the clutch, even if with a little pressure. 

That added pressure can cause strain on the parts and prevent them from being able to work properly. Instead, make sure to remove your foot from the clutch each time. You might need to adjust your position to aid in breaking this habit. 

10. Driving with Check Engine Light On 

Another common entry on the bad driving habits list is ignoring any check engine lights that come on your dashboard. A lot of engine problems can’t be seen while driving, which is why cars have alert lights. This way you can know there is something not functioning properly and get it checked out. 

A lot of time if the part is functioning poorly enough for the lights to come on, it needs immediate attention. Ignoring problems can make them worse or cause even bigger issues.

The best thing you can do for your car is to get problems checked out as soon as possible. 

Avoid These Bad Driving Habits, Save Your Engine 

Having a working vehicle is necessary for most daily routines, most of us rely on them heavily. And most of us don’t have the funds on hand to completely replace the engine in that car. 

That’s why it’s so important to avoid bad driving habits to try to keep your car in its best working condition for as long as possible. 

If your car is experiencing problems (no matter what they are!) and you’re ready to get rid of it to find something different, contact us today to talk about selling! 

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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