Numerous drivers are guilty of these very common things people do to their cars. Some common motoring practices may be shortening the life of your car’s engine or could cause permanent damage. Check this list of 7 things that you shouldn’t do to your car to see if you are putting your car in danger and maybe even putting your life at risk. 

1. WARM THE CAR’S ENGINE IN COLD WEATHER

It is commonly believed that a car needs to idle for several minutes to warm up in cold weather before it is driven. This belief is not only wrong and unhelpful but can be damaging to the car. In the times before fuel injected engines, carburetors were used. The carburetor was the component of the engine that did require warming up before use. But modern cars do not have carburetors.

Since fluids get thicker in cold weather, many people think that warming up a car is still essential in freezing temperatures. Oil runs slightly slower in cold weather. According to Technical Advisor Shanna Simmons at the American oil company, Pennzoil, the oil only requires additional milliseconds, not minutes. (1) The engine warms up better while driving normal neighborhood speeds than by idling. (2) Experts differ in their opinions of exactly how long motorists should allow cars to warm up, with some saying 30 seconds is sufficient, though others say 2-3 minutes is ideal.

Idling also wastes fuel which is like throwing money away. Some environmental groups have been trying to dispel the myth about idling cars in winter since it causes extra pollution with little to no benefit to the motorist. To top it off, many drivers rev the engine while waiting for the car to warm up which just causes extra wear on the engine. (2)

2. NEGLECT REGULAR OIL CHANGES

One of the worst things you can do to your engine is to neglect supplying sufficient clean oil to the engine by failing to do the necessary car maintenance of adding oil and getting regular oil filter replacements. A car needs to have an oil change every three months or six months for synthetic oil. (2) Without clean oil, the engine can seize up and become completely useless.

3. RUNNING THE CAR ON EMPTY

Just as driving without oil can cause problems, so can running the fuel tank down to empty. Motorists often think that draining to fuel tank until its empty causes problems by allowing sediment from tank corrosion to get into the engine. This is unlikely to happen since fuel tanks are protected by a special coating to prevent corrosion and the fuel filter would stop such sediment from causing any harm. What is wrong with emptying the tank other than the stress and wasted time if the car completely runs out of gas? Driving with an empty fuel tank can cause damage to the fuel pump. A fuel pump that is deprived of fuel could overheat and stop working properly. (2)

4. DIY UPGRADE TO HID HEADLIGHTS

When new technology becomes widely available, it’s only natural to consider applying an upgrade or modification to the car. However, some upgrades are not suitable for all cars. Motorists who have switched out their old headlamps for HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights can cause a hazard on the road by blinding oncoming traffic. (3) Cars that were not designed for HID headlights do not have lens and refractors that have been optimized for these lights.

5. LEAVE ITEMS IN THE CAR THAT CAN DAMAGE THE CAR AND HURT PASSENGERS

Motorists can easily overlook what common, everyday items left in a car. Some items can undergo changes in extreme temperatures and put people and the car at risk. In winter, canned liquids under pressure like soda cans could freeze and explode leaving a sticky mess and potentially causing an accident by distracting the driver. Liquids under pressure such as spray-on sunscreen could overheat and explode in a hot car on a summer day. (4) Cigarette lighters have been known to explode and cause cracks in the windscreen and burns in the upholstery. (4)

Personal care items, medications, and foods can become altered if left in a car that is either too hot or freezing cold. Foods could become toxic. Items like medications have warning labels that give information such as the proper temperature to store the medication. If the car temperature would be either too hot or too cold, it’s best to find another way to remember to take the medications with you rather than leaving them in the car.

6. WINDOW TINTING

Window tinting continues to be a popular car customisation. Before having windows tinted, make sure you know the laws regarding tinting as well as potential safety hazards. Drivers might have the illusion that their view of others drivers and the ability of other drivers to see them has no bearing on driving safety. However, many times we automatically look at the other driver’s faces to see if they have seen our cars, whether they are paying attention, or if they are neglecting to check traffic in our direction. Tinted windows obstruct the view of the driver’s face for other drivers and law enforcement.

Motorists can buy DIY window tinting kits, but tinting beyond what is allowable by law can cause you to face fines and be prohibited from using your car. (6) The laws about window tinting are based on how much light can pass through the windows and windscreen and the age of the vehicle. Laws do not restrict window tinting of rear windows and the rear windscreen. (6) Cars used before 1985 must allow at least 70% of the light through the front windows and windscreen. (6) Cars that have been in use since 1985 or later must allow 75% of the light through the windscreen and 70% of the light through the front windows. (6)

7. IGNORE WARNING LIGHTS ON THE DASHBOARD

Drivers often get in the bad habit of ignoring check engine lights or other warning lights on the dashboard. New drivers may not be aware of how important it is to get the car checked as soon as possible to avoid bigger mechanical problems. Experienced drivers may make this mistake due to past experiences of a broken warning light that won’t go off even after checked or other false warnings. Drivers need to take these warnings seriously and have the car serviced as soon as possible.

 

Resources:

1  Galimberti, Kathryn. "Experts Weigh In: Do You Need To Warm Up Your Car In Cold Weather?". Accuweather.com. N. p., 2016. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.

2 "9 Things You Should Never Do To Your Car". The Financial Word. N. p., 2016. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.

3 "10 Things Not To Do To Your Car". WHEELS.ca. N. p., 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.

4 "12 Things You Shouldn't Leave In The Car This Summer". The Weather Channel. N. p., 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.

5 "Tinted Vehicle Windows: The Law - GOV.UK". Gov.uk. N. p., 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.