The Worst Things You Can Do To a Car

For all the expense, worry, and inconvenience of automotive maintenance and repairs, you’d think we would know better. But time and again, we ignore or do certain things to our vehicles that will almost always drive repair bills into the stratosphere. And no matter how highly rated or reliable your daily drive is, no matter how “bulletproof you think it might be, these very simple things will roll any vehicle into an early grave

Try to control your enthusiasm

As cool as it may be, the No. 1 way to incur a hefty bill is to drift sideways into a curb or a solid object. This popular manoeuvre, usually caused by overestimating a vehicle’s traction, or triggering over-steer or under-steer, will destroy tires and rims, cause wheel hub bearings to get noisy.

It will bend any number of suspensions or steering components and generally throw your vehicle’s alignment and your credit card balance out of whack. This is such a common occurrence that repair-shop owners actually celebrate the season’s first freezing rain.

Never hit potholes at high speeds

The second most popular way to send your auto technician into financial bliss is to run full gear over a pothole. If it’s deep and wide enough, your vehicle’s suspension won’t have time to react and the leading wheel will hit the front edge of the hole with enough force to duplicate the damage that curb kisses cause.

Your car is not a boat

Ever woken up in the middle of the night when it’s raining with that nagging feeling that you might not have closed a car window or shut the sunroof completely? When you reach for your raincoat, you might as well grab your wallet, too.

Many automakers stuff a lot of expensive and sensitive electronics inside the passenger cabin of their vehicles for safekeeping. After all, if these components need a safe and dry place to live, where better than the sheltered interior?

If you manage to reach your vehicle before the water hits Noah’s mark, or you’ve driven through particularly deep water after heavy rains, you may be left with soaked carpets that will saturate under-padding and seats and give birth to mould. Lots of it.

To reduce the mould, and the odours from it, vacuum the floor thoroughly with a wet-vacuum, then place several layers of newspaper on top of the carpet to soak up surface moisture. You may have to repeat this process several times.

Your car is not a towing truck

The Internet is full of videos about idiots trying to pull a friend’s truck out of the ditch with their sub-compact car or trying to move a log or boulder with their vehicle.

The reason these videos are so popular is they almost always end up with a bumper or under-carriage component getting ripped off. The tow cable may fly through a back window followed by the uncontrollable laughter of bystanders. Unless the vehicle you’re driving is properly equipped, leave the roadside rescues to pros.

Be generous with Fluids

Fluids such as engine oil, power steering or brake fluid, transmission oil, coolant, or even fuel, are critical to the safe and reliable operation of every vehicle. Fluids can also leak or be consumed from an almost infinite number of seals, gaskets, O-rings, and mechanical devices.

If your vehicle has developed a leak of any type, ignoring it, or failing to keep that particular fluid topped up will certainly lead to serious expense.

If your vehicle’s engine is leaking or burning oil falls to a critical level, lubricant-dependent parts such as crankshaft or camshaft bearings, or pistons and valves will quickly burn out.

Leave things long enough and you’ll soon be hearing the rat-a-tat swan song of an engine on its last legs. Then for the lack of a few minutes of time and a few hundreds worth of oil, you’ll be looking at the need for a new, re-manufactured, or pre-owned engine that may run into hundreds of thousands.

So next time try to remember all this if you value your ride and money. Have you had any devastating experience with your car? Feel free to share with us in the comments

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