Mistakes that shorten your car’s lifespan

Have you ever thought about how you could be shortening your car’s lifespan? Sure, cars need ongoing vehicle maintenance and regular oil changes, but there are other habits you might have that are wearing down your car sooner than necessary.

“It’s all too easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to driving,” says Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions. “However, these habits can have a much bigger impact on your car’s life than you might expect.”

Below are some of the most common things drivers do that could inadvertently cause long-term damage to cars:

  1. Driving carelessly through potholes

Hitting a pothole at speed or a strange angle could cause long-term damage to your car. Every time your car hits a pothole, it's like taking a hammer to your suspension. The shock can throw off the alignment of your wheels, damaging your tyre treads and rims. The constant jolting weakens frame components over time and causes uneven wear on your tyres. This is why it's important to get a wheel alignment if you’ve driven through a deep pothole.

  1. Not driving often enough

If you don't drive your car regularly, it can affect the lifespan of your vehicle. Not driving your car can cause the engine parts to become rusty and weaken over time due to lack of use. If your car is not used for some time, the oil could begin to degrade, which leads to sludge buildup in the engine.

You should aim for at least 10 minutes of driving every two weeks to make sure that all the components are functioning properly and that all fluids are circulating regularly. It is also recommended that you take longer trips periodically, such as family road trips or weekend getaways, as this will help keep your engine in good condition.

  1. Resting your hand on the gear shift in manual cars

If you drive a manual car, don’t rest your hand on the gear shift while driving. If you do so, you might unknowingly apply pressure which could speed up the wear and tear of the gear components. This could lead to noisy gear changes or even difficulty changing gears.

  1. Using back-street mechanics for vehicle maintenance

Whether it's a simple tune-up, oil change, or a major repair, working with an experienced mechanic is essential to keeping your car running smoothly. If you choose to use a cheaper, back-street mechanic for vehicle maintenance, there is no assurance about the quality of the technicians working on the cars, the type of parts being used; the quality of the diagnostic equipment, or the environmental practices being followed. The reality is, if you use a mechanic who doesn’t have the necessary registration and compliance, you have virtually no recourse if things go wrong.

Without answering any regulatory requirements, these illegal workshops can produce substandard work that ultimately impacts the condition of your car. Accreditation and compliance are the consumer’s guarantees that the job will be done correctly and according to stringent industry standards.

Be sure to research mechanics in your area and read up on customer reviews to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable shop. Ask around for recommendations and make sure to get multiple estimates before agreeing to any work.

  1. Not having wheels properly aligned

Having your car's wheels properly aligned might not seem like a huge deal, but it can make all the difference. Misaligned wheels can result in:

  • Poor handling and jerking when you turn the steering wheel
  • Uneven tyre wear
  • Potential for damaging your car's suspension
  • Reduced gas mileage due to premature tyre wear
  • Premature deterioration of your car's other parts if left unattended for too long

If your vehicle holds the road well and shows no sign of incorrect wheel alignment, consider having your wheels aligned every two to three years.