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Top 10 Everyday Things People Do To Ruin Their Cars

Posted in Car Tech, Commuter Cars, Guide by Vito Rispo | October 3rd, 2008 | 132 Responses |

Two thirds of all Americans aged 18-24 cannot find Iraq on a map; 33% couldn’t identify Louisiana; 47% couldn’t find India; 75% think English was the most widely spoken language in the world. People are idiots, and this isn’t a uniquely American phenomenon, it’s worldwide. The majority of human beings on Earth are stone dumb. Being dumb, most people do dumb things, like unknowingly destroy their car.

So we’ve assembled the top 10 everyday things people do to ruin their cars, to help guide you through your own stupidity, into the light. Check it:

1. Not Using The Parking Brake

It’s a little pedal near your left leg, or a lever on your right. Yes, that mysterious device that you’ve never used is actually valuable. When you park on an incline, or even on fairly steady ground, without using the parking brake, you’re putting all of the stress of the car on your transmission. The only thing inside that transmission holding your car steady is a little pin called a parking pawl. By using the parking brake, you lock up the non-drive wheels as well as the drive wheels and take the stress off of the transmission. It’ll add years of life to your cars transmission. Just remember to disengage it before you start driving again.

2. Not Coming To A Complete Stop Before Shifting

So you’re in a rush, and you pull out of a parking space and shift into drive while the car is still coasting backwards. You’ve just added months of wear to your transmission in seconds. Inside your transmission is a complex set of gears, when you shift without stopping like that, you’re asking those gears to work as your brakes, which puts an amazing amount of stress on such a small area. You can also damage your drive shafts, the things that send power to the wheels, by shifting that way. After a while, it’ll lead to sloppy suspension handling, and a worn out transmission.

3. Riding The Brakes Down A Hill

If you are driving on a hill that goes on for a while, you’ll want to avoid riding the brake the whole time. Alternate between braking and letting off the brake so you don’t heat up and wear out your brake pads. It’s a common mistake, because it feels like the safest way to maneuver down a hill, but if the hill is sufficiently long, you can end up almost totally wearing out your pads, since as they heat up, they wear faster.

4. Forgetting To Change The Oil

You need to change your oil every 5,000 miles at the most. That’s really all there is to it. I actually read a blog online that said you can wait until your oil light comes on to change your oil. I’ve worked in the automotive business… by the time your oil light comes on, the oil inside your engine has turned into jet black molasses and is of no use to your engine. In the short term, I suppose it’s not that important, but more frequent changes can actually double the life of your car and greatly increase its performance.

5. Pressure Washing The Engine

I can respect a person’s desire to want a clean engine. It gets grimy under there and a guy with a pressure washer is a dangerous thing for grime – you want to point it at anything even slightly dirty. But a grimy engine that runs right is better than a clean engine that doesn’t run at all. And if you spray a high powered jet of water around rubber seals and hoses and electrical bits, you’re bound to dislodge something important. A modern engine is a complex thing, all manner of sensors and wiring harnesses and components, and it’s no place for a jet of high pressure water. A regular garden hose is OK if you want to wash it down, just be careful with the high pressure business.

6. Starting Your Car The Wrong Way

It seems simple, but you can make a big difference by turning off your radio, wipers, climate control, all of those accessories, when you start the car. Most of the wear on the engine happens when you start the car, and by turning off those accessories, your engine doesn’t have to work as hard when starting.

Another thing people do is revving the engine in the winter. This actually doesn’t help “warm up” the car. Although it does technically make the engine hotter, it’s not the kind of “warming up” that you want. Revving your engine in the winter causes extreme temperature changes right away, which is actually the opposite of what you want. When you start the car, the oil hasn’t yet worked its way through the system, so the engine is working without lubricant. The right way to do it is just let the car sit and idle for about 30 seconds to a minute at the least.

7. Ignoring Your Car’s Sounds

Every sound your car makes means something, if you pay attention, your car can usually tell you exactly what needs fixing. Those squeaking brakes mean you need new pads, and if you ignore that sound, eventually you’ll hear scraping metal, which means you need new rotors, and if you ignore that, you’ll eventually hear the sound of your own scream as you lose your brakes completely and fly off a cliff in a spectacular fireball of death. It’s more common than you think. Listen to your car.

8. Letting The Interior Go

You’re in a rush again, and you eat most of your disgusting egg and cheese bagel, and toss the rest in the wrapper on the passenger seat. Lovely. You know who you are, your car is filthy, never been vacuumed, 15 air fresheners hang on the mirror, and yet, no air freshener made by mortal man can stop the sickening wind within your car. You need to clean it. If you don’t vacuum your carpets and clean out the garbage every so often, you’ll develop a smell that is impossible to destroy. I’ve worked in the auto salvage business, and I know that there exist smells that are so obscene, so inhuman, that no shampoo can vanquish them. The only way to stop them is to never let them develop. Clean your car, for the sake of all mankind.

9. Running Your Car Down To Empty

There’s actually a bit of a debate about this one. The old wisdom says if your car gets down to E, the sediment in your tank will get sucked into the system and foul your fuel injectors. Although some mechanics says thats not true. Either way, running down to E does pose other problems. You cut the life of the fuel pump considerably, since the fuel actually cools the pump.

An interesting note: Most cars can drive another 60 miles+ after they hit Empty, automakers call this extra gas the “buffer zone”. US cars have the largest “buffer zone” of any vehicles. German drivers, for instance, like to know exactly how much gas in is the car, so their “buffer zone” between the gauge’s E and the actual empty tank is much smaller.

10. Driving Past Attractive Women

This is a common mistake, especially among younger male drivers. Attractive women can be incredibly damaging to your vehicle, they can cause the driver to install bizarre over-sized woofers or 22 inch rims, or even spontaneously crash the car into a nearby tree or telephone pole. When you’re driving, be careful to avoid swimming pools, beaches, college campuses, anyplace where beautiful girls assemble in any significant numbers. Your car will thank you.

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132 Responses

  1. Suzanne Denbow says:

    GASP, is that the tail end of a VOLVO I see in that water? The horror, the pure, unadulterated horror

  2. vlane.com says:

    I’ve noticed that pressing the gas instead of the brake has pretty disastrous results as well (possibly per that picture above)

  3. Great information, all quite usable and helpful. Now, if you could only get people to quit using aero mod kits on cars that are never going to go fast enough to benefit from them.

    At least, no one hangs dice from their mirrors anymore. See the Wikipedia entry for “Auto accessories, paleo era.”

  4. agnerrah says:

    You forgot the common practice of using the “drive” transmission position as a brake for “reverse”.
    This will ruin a transmission a lot faster than not using the parking brake.

  5. Sadrack B says:

    This is awesome, I am about to forward it to my friends at work…

  6. Nik says:

    The number 10 had me laughing for a good five minutes before I moved on.

  7. name says:

    Nice.

    I really liked the parking brake suggestion.

    Damn good, mate.

    Great article.

  8. Sam says:

    The parking brake normally only engages the rear 2 wheels. Not all four as your article indicates.

  9. Mark says:

    Of course when you’re all grown up you can get to drive a car with a manual transmission ;)

  10. jen says:

    Maybe they also need less buffer because their country has 1/27th of the U.S.’s surface area.

  11. Try Again says:

    Some of this article is good. Some of it is crap.

    2. This is what syncros do. If you have a good tranny, it’s no problem. As long as the tranny has spun down, you’ll be fine. The engine speed is irrelevant as long as you apply the clutch slowly.

    6. This is utter crap. Almost every car since the 70′s and 80′s have a switch in the ignition. When you start the car, the switch kills power to EVERYTHING but the starter/start solenoid, and the engine itself. Don’t believe me? Turn on your radio, and start your car. It will turn off. To be fair, this is for American cars. But I can’t imagine it doesn’t apply to any others.

  12. Formula350 says:

    Being a car guy myself, I only DON’T have a problem with 8, 9 (mostly, the buffer zone bit is far too general and optimistic) and 10. If the author reads this, you’re welcome to contact me and we can debate about it ;) 1-7 there is too many flaws in it for me to recommend it to any true auto-idiots :\

  13. Duncan says:

    Learn to drive a shift transmission and lessons 1 and 2 become redundant.

    I driven both types and while automatics are confortable I can say I feel SO much more in control in a car with a proper transmission a shift stick and a clutch.
    Big car or small car it does not matter. Shift transmission in both still feels more controlable that automatic in either.

  14. Justin says:

    Inflating your tires is VERY important,

    I had an F-150 that I had a really slow loss in air pressure in the right front. Long story short I had to replace all four tires because it was pulling to the right and made all the tires wear abnormally.

  15. Steven says:

    The biggest problem with running your tank to empty isn’t the accumulation of solids in the tank (which is minimal, if any at all). Rather, by allowing the tank to fill with water vapor in the air you promote an oxidizing atmosphere (i.e. it will rust more quickly). If the tank is kept full of fuel this air is displaced out of the tank and kept to a minimum.

  16. TG says:

    Great article!

    Item #9: they’re “buffer zone” –> their “buffer zone”

  17. Jesus says:

    And THEY’RE and THEIR! Chrissakes!

  18. Anonymous says:

    It’s actually the tail end of a 4 door Civic and I feel like this is all common sense… anyone else?

  19. Bob says:

    The bloke(s) who wrote this article probably know better than anyone. *cough*

  20. West Coaster says:

    Save fuel and wear and tear by coasting more – no need to speed up to red lights or stale greens.

    And if you’re coasting down a steeper slope, downshift instead of constantly applying your brakes.

    Also, keep an empty tennis ball container under the passenger seat in case of traffic jams or long journeys when you HAVE to go. It may save your upholstery…

  21. Bob Bohannon says:

    Consumer reports did test using New York City taxicabs and proved that it is a waste of money to change your oil as often as the author recommends. The 3000-6000 mile guideline only does a good job in lining the pockets of mechanics and the oil industry.

  22. Ruggy says:

    Also worth mentioning, as these may be “everyday things” for some people:

    Crashing the car while intoxicated

    Crashing the car while lighting up a cigarette, talking (even arguing) on the phone, putting on makeup or adjusting the radio

    Crashing the car while running a red light

    Crashing the car due to “tailgating” (following too close)

    Crashing the car due to failing to signal a lane change

    Inviting rust damage by never washing the car

  23. Peter says:

    Also, if you do decide to wash your engine, make sure its cooled down. Cool water on a hot engine is an easy way to crack the head or damage other very hot parts.

  24. Cory says:

    I would use my parking break more often if it wasn’t broken. That can also bring up another bad thing; driving with your parking break on.

  25. Seth says:

    Well I wouldnt go as far as to say people are incredibly stupid for not doing these things. These are actually some pretty good tips. And at suzanne, that looks more like a honda civic to me than a volvo.

  26. mechanix says:

    On the oil bit, 5,000 miles as a max is subjective. It all depends on the TYPE of oil the car engine has in it. The synthetics can run upwards to 10-13k miles no problem. But it is good for proper ownership to periodically check your engine oil. Ambient temperature, driving style, and age of the engine all make a difference in how long your oil will keep. However, for a driver who doesn’t drive that much and expects to keep the same oil the whole year, that is also another mistake. the oil ages as it sits in the pan and loses its ability to properly lubricate the engine. — If you want to keep your engine in peak performance…dont be a shitty driver.

  27. vornan19 says:

    I like how TFA mentioned not revving the engine in winter. I would also add:
    Never rev the engine.
    No fast starts from stop light/signs
    Accelerate at an even pace, it is not a race up to the speed limit
    Drive nice and easy, no stomping on the gas, while the car is cold in all weather.
    If you drive a manual transmission when you choose to up shift can affect your mileage drastically. Shift out of first at about 10mph. I let the cars momentum carry me up to 23ish before shifting to third. Same for fourth and fifth gear too. I get over 35mpg in the city!

  28. dennis says:

    First time I ever had a reasonable explanation as to why to use the parking brake.

    Why didn`t they teach me that in drivers education class?

    Thanks mate!

  29. “75% think English was the most widely spoken language in the world.”

    That depends on what you mean by “most widely spoken.” Yes Mandarin has the most total speakers worldwide, but it is only spoken in 5 countries, whereas English is spoken in 115. Just sayin’..

    Extracted from included link
    ————————————————-
    The following is a list of these languages in terms of the number of countries where each is spoken. The number that follows is the total number of countries that use that language (from Weber, 1997):

    1. English (115)
    2. French (35)
    3. Arabic (24)
    4. Spanish (20)
    5. Russian (16)
    6. German (9)
    7. Mandarin (5)
    8. Portuguese (5)
    9. Hindi/Urdu (2)
    10. Bengali (1)
    11. Japanese (1)

  30. rofl-saurus says:

    i had an idiot friend that claimed the parking brake was for “emergencies only”, i am glad i can use yet another article to call bullshit on his great wisdom of cars….

  31. hall monitor says:

    Don’t forget crashing them into houses!

    Hall Monitor
    http://detentionslip.org

  32. Lasher says:

    im an amaerican , i buy my cars so i can destroy them at my will

  33. Lasher says:

    i cant fucken spell

  34. mechanicman says:

    Changing oil frequently will not increase your cars performance, although it will maintain it.

  35. Bob Downs says:

    I have never heard of a transmision parking pawl failing…they are
    quite strong and the function works well.

    The biggest reason to use your parking brake once in a while, if you live
    in a wet climate, is to ensure that the associated cables, etc haven’t rusted up and become inoperable.

    Other than that use the transmission’s Park position as that is what
    is designed for.

  36. Jonathan Barnett says:

    @Suzanne Denbow:

    Nope, it’s a Suzuki :)

  37. Bubba says:

    The parking brake use is mandatory in Australia. I was always puzzled by North America’s reluctance to use it.
    By the way, English is the most widely spoken language in the world judging by geographical distribution. It just isn;t spoken by the most people.

  38. Andrew says:

    Good article, although you could go a little easier on the “everyone is an idiot” thing. Afterall, I’m in the software industry and I’m sure I could expound for days on all the stupid shit YOU do to your computer! (Note this is just a hypothetical, you may also be into computers, etc., but I seek merely to highlight the fact that there is some piece of equipment or appliance that we all use on a daily basis that we’re probably using “stupidly”).

    Systems like cars and computers are too complex for a layman to know some (SOME, not all) of these things. And then even when they do know them, they’re often just not cognitive of the consequences at all times.

    One could argue that your (ab)use of the English language in this article is a good example :).

  39. Bill Vincent says:

    Great article! The oil change period will always be argued, but 5000 miles is a good number to use unless you’re tech enough to know more specifics. All three of our cars get changes at 4-6K, and the oil looks, feels, and smells nasty at that point. I’d like to do it more often. Compared to engine repair, 25 bucks for a change a couple times a year is cheap insurance.

  40. Ryan says:

    Thanks for posting this, though your intro is a bit misleading. Most people never get told these things, and if they aren’t an auto mechanic, how are they supposed to know what puts stress on the transmission. What’s stupid is that this kind of knowledge isn’t taught commonly for new car owners. I’ve always been under the impression the parking break was just an extra safety check for steep inclines.

  41. J says:

    what about leaving the AC plugs in the cigar lighter? i leave 2 plugged in, 1 mp3 player and 1 GPS using a splitter. do they drain the battery power more than i think they do?

  42. scosol says:

    > The only thing inside that transmission holding your car steady is a little pin called a parking pawl.

    Haha- you drive an automatic.

    > It seems simple, but you can make a big difference by turning off your radio, wipers, climate control, all of those accessories, when you start the car. Most of the wear on the engine happens when you start the car, and by turning off those accessories, your engine doesn’t have to work as hard when starting.

    Haha- you’re fucking retarded.

  43. Darryl says:

    Most of these are just common scene for people out side the US I guess. The parking break also isn’t meant to be used as a method of turning.

  44. Liam says:

    The parking brake business is how I was taught to drive…not too mention it’s invaluable for getting up a hill in a manual. How do you crazy people not even know where it is?

    To Sam, who says the parking brake only engages two wheels not four as the article states -

    The article actually states that by using the parking brake /in conjunction/ with having the car in ‘park’ (as I’m assuming that’s what most people do if they aren’t using the parking brake and they’re obviously not driving standard transmissions) brakes on all four wheels are engaged. Which is true. :)

  45. Anonymous says:

    This all seems like common sense to me.

    I like vornan19′s comment about coasting and accelerating reasonably.

    In general, I’m sure people know that what they’re doing is stupid. They just choose to do it anyway. You choose which is more detestable.

  46. Jimm Mason says:

    LOL, I dunno about the driving past attractive women, I kinda like that one myself.

    Jiff
    http://www.privacy-center.ru.tc

  47. Road Rager says:

    #11: Driving slow in the left lane. Read the signs people, they say slower traffic keep to the right. Then I won’t be inclined to ride your bumper as I happen to be one who enjoys driving faster than the general public. This will increase the life of your car seeing as how I want to shoot out your tires every time you won’t let me pass.

    #12: Road Rage. Its not good for anyone. Especially me. But some of us were born with it. Especially me.

    • asdf says:

      Those signs are for people driving slower than the speed limit. They’re not to appease imbeciles wanting to break the speed limit, numb nuts.

  48. [...] importantly, you’re apparently messing up your car. Seriously.  Check out “Top 10 Everyday Things People Do To Ruin Their Cars” if you don’t believe me. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Posted in Graduate Student Life [...]

  49. Krazd says:

    you can downshift when going downhill (#3)

    also, if you use synthetic you can technically go longer than 5k without an oil change..

  50. Michael says:

    For all those saying things in this article are rubbish, hes actually talking about a car with AUTOMATIC transmission. Very good advice. All stuff Ive been weary of.

  51. ddd says:

    The illustration shows that stupidity is a worldwide disease. The picture was taken in Budapest, Hungary (I actually live next street). A pipe was broken but the driver thought that it’s only gonna be a small pond she can drive through. As it turned out, she couldn’t. And it’s a Suzuki Swift, by the way.

  52. esoter1c says:

    Protip #1:Automatic transmission fluid can be used in the power steering pump.

    Protip #2:For you Eskimos get a block heater….don’t forget to plug it in @ night.

    Protip #3:Use lemon/water to clean your interior etc.. armor all & other products eat/fade interiors.

    Protip #4:Use fuel injector cleaner once a month.

    Potip #5:Fuzzy dice are cool…..forever.

  53. required says:

    #10 yeah, anytime i pass by a gorgeous woman i start howling. There’s a famous spanish group which made famous with a song: “due to your skirt i had a crash against another car” “por la raja de tu falda tuve un piñazo contra un seat panda” estopa.

  54. @Nik: You laughed at number 10 for a whole five minutes? Seriously, get out more. And moved on to what – the comments? If not, how are you back commenting if you’ve already “moved on”?

    My God but the Internet is a breeding ground for morons… and articles like this, containing largely common sense items (debatable or not), tend to draw them out of the woodwork.

    I miss Web 1.0.

  55. someguy says:

    More people understand English than ANY other language. I’m not saying that English is the PRIMARY language of most people, but more people understand it than any other. It is the accepted international business language.

  56. Ryan G says:

    Great tips, especially number 10, which made me wreck my car and lose my girlfriend in one hit.

  57. Matt says:

    “75% think English was the most widely spoken language in the world.” If you are going to call people idiots you may want to try getting your grammar correct first. It should be “think English is” or “thought English was.”

  58. Rick Cain says:

    Modern engines have an oil analysis system which actually tells you when to change your oil. Oil these days is a very good quality product even if its bought in a dollar store. On non-synthetics you can go 7500 easily, synthetics 10,000 miles or more, depending on driving habits.
    Just because oil turns black doesn’t mean it has stopped working. Oil turns black almost immediately after you put new oil in your car.

  59. dudehammer says:

    I see a lot of people riding their clutch at stop lights on hills instead of using the brake.

  60. [...] Top 10 Everyday Things People Do To Ruin Their Cars Two thirds of all Americans aged 18-24 cannot find Iraq on a map; 33% couldn?t identify Louisiana; 47% couldn?t find India; 75% think English was the most widely spoken language in the world. People are idiots, and this isn?t a uniquely American phenomenon, it?s worldwide. The majority of human beings on Earth are stone dumb. Being dumb, most people do dumb things, like unknowingly destroy their car. So we?ve assembled the top 10 everyday things people do to ruin their cars, to help guide you through your own stupidity, into the light. Check it: Top 10 Everyday Things People Do To Ruin Their Cars [...]

  61. [...] Top 10 Everyday Things People Do To Ruin Their Cars. No Comments, Comment or Ping [...]

  62. Wendy says:

    Wow! This is great! As a woman, men tend to believe I am not as able to manage car issues. I can diagnose a car of any type for most anything just by driving it or listening to it or to what a person says is wrong with it. I just do not have mechanic skills to boast about… anyway- I have been trying to “teach” these tips to my husband, yeah boys that’s right, I know more about cars than my very masculine husband! lol It’s okay, we laugh about it. I came across this on digg and oh man, it is cracking me up and it is so good, I am forwarding it to him, oops, then he will see this (not good lol) um… I mean, I am so printing this! LOL Have a great week!
    :-) hahaha

  63. Mark says:

    On #5, one of my first jobs was washing cars at a local dealership and we washed the engine of every new and used car that came into that lot and I never ever had a problem with a car afterwards. We are talking hundreds and hundreds of cars and I bet most dealerships do the same thing. If it was ruining cars all the time they wouldn’t be doing it.

  64. proscriptus says:

    Dennis Simanitis did a column some years back where he actually measured brake temperatures. The result was that pulsing heats up drums and discs more than steady pressure, no matter how long the interval.

    Pulsing adds a great deal of heat quickly, and it takes long enough to dissipate that the net result is greater heat gain. You’re also more likely to warp your discs that way, and will wear out pads faster.

  65. steelfrog says:

    1. Cleaning your engine when the engine is still hot is a horrible idea.
    2. Running the car until the car hits empty/bottom of the gas tank is a bad idea; it happened to my girlfriend. There was so much sediment at the bottom of her gas tank that when it was siphoned, the gas filter clogged, stalling the car completely. It took us a while to clean all the gunk and get it running properly again.

  66. [...] Top 10 Everyday Things People Do To Ruin Their Cars (tags: lifehacks car) [...]

  67. Cata says:

    Except no.3 all points are reasonable. No.3 is not. Nobody should put costs and money before safety. If the brake pads wear off in a month, so be it, I will gladly pay for new ones, but i will not do a perilous and unconfortable descent by braking intermintently. At least I will be safe downhill and be prepared to further slam the brake if needed.

  68. unbeta says:

    How about respecting the “buffer zone” when going to the restroom? If there’s more than one empty stall next to mine, then I would prefer that you put at least one empty stall between us. There’s no reason so sit next to someone unless you have no choice.

  69. John Smith says:

    So in summary:

    #1. Only matters if you drive an automatic, and then not very much.
    #2. Seems to make sense. Yes, manual transmissions have synchros, but I imagine that the gearbox was not designed with the extra torque of rolling backwards in mind. On the other hand, first gear WAS designed to go from 0 to 3500 rpms in a second or two, so going from negative 10 rpms to 3500 in the same time period is probably not that much worse.
    #3. Myth accoring to a prior comment who said that pumping the breaks is worse than steady pressure. No idea whether he’s right.
    #4. 5k miles is probably a bit low for the upper limit between oil changes, but you can’t put if off forever.
    #5. People pressure wash engines all the time, but having worked on a few cars, I can see how it could knock something loose every once in a while. Since there’s no non-aesthetic reason for doing it, probably better not to, but also probably not a huge deal either way.
    #6. Myth. Even if there were no cut-off switch, a car engine can easily move several thousand pounds of steel and glass. The extra energy required to run the alternator a tiny bit harder in order to replace the drain on the battery coming from running the radio for a couple of seconds is minimal. I think the source of this myth is that in old cars with low batteries, the drain from the radio was sometimes enough to keep the starter from getting enough current, thus preventing the car from starting.
    #7. Makes sense, though obvious.
    #8. Agreed. Clean out your damn car!
    #9. Myth. Think logically for a second about how the fuel gets out of the tank to be carried to the engine. Where do you suppose the opening in the tank is located? It has to be in a place that will still be submerged no matter how little gas is left in the tank. The only place that fits that description is the bottom of the tank. If there were sediment on the bottom of the tank it would get sucked in regardless of how full the tank was.
    #10. Don’t suppose that I’ll go there…

    Hate to be a jerk and criticize something that this guy obviously put a bunch of work into, but figured I’d try to set the record straight.

  70. [...] folks over at Ridelust.com have assembled the top 10 everyday things people do to ruin their cars, to help guide you through [...]

  71. [...] According to RideLust, most people are ruining their cars on a daily basis. [...]

  72. digthemoment says:

    what are you passionate about?

  73. jamie says:

    sorry guys…..starting your car with accessories on doesn’t hurt the car. the starter has an interrupt and once the car is started the accessories are free to kick in.
    on a car with a low battery it appears to affect your start but in actuality all the juice goes to the starter.

  74. jamie says:

    i want more pix like the one posted at the beginning!!!!!

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  78. [...] People are idiots, and this isn’t a uniquely American phenomenon, it’s worldwide. The majority of human beings on Earth are stone dumb. Being dumb, most people do dumb things, like unknowingly destroy their car. [...]

  79. [...] good tips to extend the life of your car. Boring, I know but [...]

  80. brian says:

    You forgot the most imprtant rule of all. If your car is really expensive don’t let women drive it. This mistake cost me $15,000 to fix the damage caused by my 63 split window Vette hitting somebodys house. No offense intended for those few women who can actually drive.

  81. Nick says:

    This is a very helpful list. Unfortunately, most of the people who need to read it never will.

  82. Terry says:

    DO NOT pump the brakes! This idea has been totally discredited. If you are on a long downhill grade, constant light pressure is what you want to keep the heat as low as possible.

    Ask ANY truck driver who travels in hilly or mountainous terrain; they will tell you that pumping the brakes will get them killed due to brake failure.

  83. william robert says:

    u r kinding, right? Some poeple just should not be driving in the first place!

  84. I think your article has much value. I would only add the fact that coffee can exhausts do not make a Honda faster. I drive a Mach 1 Mustang and I see kids with stock diameter exhaust pipes connected to a coffee can muffler. If they wanna make their car faster I would recommend putting a bigger engine in or a complete build.

    1. port match intake and head
    2. 5 angle cut on valves
    3. larger cam if available and make sure it matches power band of intake and head
    4. higher flowing exhaust manifold
    5. larger diameter exhaust pipe
    6. proper tune with larger injectors and mass air flow sensor
    7. suspension upgrades
    8. tire upgrades
    9. and then a higher flowing exhaust such as flowmaster, magnaflow, or borla.

  85. LaSombra says:

    Wearing out the brakes is your least problem when going down a slope. The dangerous part is overheating the brakes to the point where
    a) they don’t brake, and
    b) your tyres catch fire.

    I’m a truck driver, and I’ve had two cases when I had to wait for another truck at the bottom of a slope with the fire extinguisher ready. The safest way to go down a long slope for a truck is to use the retarder. For a car, you shift in a low gear and tap the brake only when your car picks up too much speed. Remember to let go of the brakes before you enter a turn (continuous in-turn braking causes understeer at cruise speeds).

  86. Zach says:

    one car problem is being a dumbass

  87. Zach says:

    or just being stupid

  88. Nidzo says:

    It’s a back of a Suzuki Swift or a GM something alternative.

  89. Mary says:

    For California drivers, As well as California people in general; They are all from planet dumbass and have not the slightest clue on how to drive or how to act. Beside the latter fact, I believe that all of the people that I have undesirably come into contact with on the road cannot drive worth a lick and do not follow their guidelines that which was taught when we all decided to drive and achieve the license success.. Someone mentioned that a car being in park is good enough without a parking brake, Umm, You are supposed to use the parking brake when parking, ESPECIALLY, on a hill! It is the safe way in case the car manages to roll downward or upward.. The parking break is there for a reason, Use it!

  90. Dru says:

    Please update #5.. Advise people to let their engine cool down before spraying water on it. The cooling effect can make metal contract rapidly and unevenly; you could crack some metal parts.

  91. scorp508 says:

    Uh, #2, you need to learn what a torque converter is. Your automatic transmission dos not have a direct link between engine and driveshaft. The TC is two pieces of metal with fluid and metal fins inside of it that causes both parts of the case to slip until a certain RPM is reached to spool the tranny up gradually until it eventually locks into a 1:1 ratio via a TC lock mechanism. This is why the car doesn’t move while at a stop and your foot is off of the brake.

  92. scorp508 says:

    …and as other stated, manual transmission use synchro gears.

  93. Simeon 2009 April 03 says:

    (Correction)The RPM on the engine could be as low as 500.

  94. Jeep Owner says:

    To Justin of OCT 04 2008. Your tires wore abnormally cause it pulled to the right because your wheels needed balancing and probably some other minor work. DUH!!!

    Bob Bohannon on October 4, 2008 Sorry changing your oil every 3000-6000 miles isn’t just lining the pockets of mechanics and the oil industry. It’s to keep your engine healthy and running for 100s of thousands of miles and years to come. Consumer Report is written by us the consumers. Yes Synthetics last longer 6000-10000.

    I’m surprised Transmission Fluid isn’t on the list or mentioned. If your Trani-Fluid is red you’re set to go but if becomes black or is red and smells burned then it needs a change. Also make sure you are loosing fluid.

    Also keep an eye on your Anit-Freeze(that green fluid). Mainly just make sure it doesn’t fall too low. If you have to fill it a lot means there’s a leak.

    Best recommendation check your fluids once a week or every 2 weeks. And while your under the hood check your air filter. If it’s medium gray to black change it. Don’t forget power steering. I’ve driven a truck that doesn’t have power steering you need more than elbow grease to steer one of those.

    LaSombra on January 9, 2009 you said what I was going to. That is what you do going down hills with you vehicle.
    Hey readers why do you think when you pass a Semi going down a hill or coming to a stop or slowing down you hear the engine suddenly grumble? Cause the driver is down shifting or engine braking. In some places there are signs prohibiting this cause it can get loud. I like to hear it cause it shows the driver knows how to handle 55,000-85,000lbs at 53′ long.

    My soon to be brother-in-law is a certified mechanic and teaches me everything I want to know about vehicles. He is certified to work on everything but semis but he is educated in their engines. He isn’t certified cause he couldn’t afford to go to school for those and still can’t. Oh and proof I trust him he built 2 Ford Mustang engines for Nitro-Methane racing. The NHRA looked them over and jokingly asked if he stole them from a pro driver. That’s how good he is, and they better not fail cause one of them is in my ladies Mustang and she loves to drag on the track. That engine quits it will be his nuts that I will use as luge nuts on my Jeep.

  95. MAX says:

    lol good one!

  96. Jim says:

    Yes English is the most widely spoken language in the world. 75% of Americans are correct.

  97. Ryan says:

    This guy is dumb, I’ve worked on cars for years and I see multiple problems with this.

    1-Leaving it in park does not hurt your transmission. There is what is called a Parking Pawl in the rear of the transmission. Its a round gear with 6-8 little Us cut into it (to say) and a 5/16″ or so metal pin goes through it to hold it in park, it hurts nothing and is designed to do this.

    2-There are only a few gears in a transmission, it is mostly a lot of valves, clutches, and a pump though. Your torque converter slips on purpose (thats how your car doesnt stop running when you stop and its still in drive). As long as you put it in drive below 2mph or so, you once again, aren’t hurting anything.

    5-Pressure washing your engine won’t hurt a thing. Just don’t spray directly onto anything electrical on purpose. If it wasn’t meant to get wet wouldn’t there be a big cover on the bottom of your engine instead of a big hole?

    9- The biggest problem with running it to E is letting air get into your fuel pump. Thats what kills them, what do you think a fuel filter or that fuel sock on the pump is meant for?

    I could do this all day long but its not worth my time. This guy needs to read a little bit before posting stuff online thinking he knows what he is talking about. Good day.

  98. Biotech is Godzilla says:

    I can’t tell if I’m hungry or not. I did like this article though, and I even liked the commenters who argue the points, even if not well. I think I’ll go with a bagel.

  99. Nice articles, just subscribed.

  100. Muramati says:

    Quite useful.

    I agree. The best optimal time to change the oil is every 5000km (or about 3000 miles).

  101. Eric says:

    #6 – You are an idiot, when you start your car with the accesories on, It draws a little extra power from the battery. your engine is not doing any extra work at all. the altornator is charging the battery at the same rate!
    dont post stuff that you dont know about.

  102. Paul Bartlett says:

    On oil changes. The survey on Taxi’s doesn’t completely apply to regular drivers. They keep their engines hot for long periods of time and seldom do short runs between engine off times. So there is a lot less build up of acids and other nasty chemicals in the same no. of miles. It’s not the oil that breaks down that you have to worry about so much as the build up of contaminants. Almost half your bottle of oil is a complex concoction of chemicals to deal with these contaminants and to improve the effectiveness of the oil itself. These additives are what get depleted. The rate of depletion is what you need to worry about. If you want to get more miles out of your oil without hurting your engine then get a test kit. At least a ph test.

    On winter starting. The Ministry of Transportation fleet in N. Ontario where I lived did a study on engine wear during cold weather starts. (really cold) They found that the least wear occurred if you started the car and kept the rev’s as low as possible until it would continue running without the addition of gas then shift it into gear and let it roll at idle for a couple blocks (keeps revs down) Obviously not everyone can poke along for the first few blocks without raising ire or causing problems.

  103. Kie says:

    “The old wisdom says if your car gets down to E, the sediment in your tank will get sucked into the system and foul your fuel injectors. Although some mechanics says thats not true.”

    Actually, it is true. I’ve done it twice myself, and my mechanic told me that’s exactly the problem. Also, it happens pretty instantly. So once you’re almost out of fuel and fill up, your injectors are already screwed and you’ll struggle to go uphill!

  104. Jake says:

    Using the parking brake is not necessary with an automatic transmission. The only reason they put it there is that it is required by law to have a secondary braking means other than the primary brakes. The “Park” gear is designed for parking.

    The Parking brake does NOT cause braking action on all 4 wheels. The parking brake works only on the rear wheels (sometimes only one of them). If the car is front wheel drive (FWD) then there will be braking on all 4 wheels, in a sense. But if it is rear wheel drive (RWD) then it will still only act on the rear wheels.

    Sorry, but most of these don’t work

  105. Miki says:

    LMAO @ #10! Saw some cheerleaders from my school running on the sidewalk in short shorts and ran up under the bumper of a van. o.0

  106. Shear Force says:

    If you don’t use “park” to actually stop the car from moving, the parking pin or “pawl” will be just fine for decades. Using the park brake will not make your transmission last longer.

    I think you should have bounced this article off of a couple of actual mechanically inclined types before you revealed your ineptitude.

  107. dulceleche says:

    Two thirds of all Americans aged 18-24 cannot find Iraq on a map; 33% couldn’t identify Louisiana; 47% couldn’t find India;

    some “non idiots” should be hang in public places so their peers will learn that someone who don’t give a dime about geography is not necesary n idiot..neither the ones WHO knows that business around the globe is conducted in English.. as well as civil people/societies strive to speak English at least a Lil, who in his right mind will cares to know if the language of a subculture with zero inference in the developing world is “majority”, I call this guy a mayor failure

    this article is for beginners yes (kindergarten level)

  108. chdeal says:

    this is the best blog I have read in a long time. Man, I am a repeat offender of about half of these. Thanks for the tips!

  109. CmdrKat says:

    ONE MAJOR ISSUE WAS OVERLOOKED: YEILDING TO EMERGENCY VEHICLES! After many years as a cop and in watching all the cop shows just to see how stupid people truly are, it would appear that about 80% of all drivers fail to yeild to red lights & sirens coming up behind them. If some crook is ripping past don’t stop, honk, flip them off then go merrily on your way, REMEMBER THAT SEVERAL POLICE UNITS ARE PROBABLY HOT ON THE ERRANT DRIVER’S TAIL!! It’s only a matter of pulling over and being “inconvenienced” for 15-30 seconds to let the cops by-and the same goes with ambulances. If an ambulance is coming up beihind you, PULL OVER!! If it was your Mom or Aunt Minnie having a heart attack, you’d want the ambulance and medics there immediately, but you’d be shocked to see how few people pull over to let the ambulances by-like they don’t count. Most mutts out there are yakking on their phones or have their stereos up so loud they don’t hear the emergency vehicles coming! GIVE THEM A BRAKE-PULL OVER!! Some day YOU may be the one needing emergency services and in that 15-30 seconds drivers refuse to “give up”, YOU could die!

  110. Captain Rickenbaker says:

    No.10 is totally crap.Instead of “avoiding swimming pools (they aren’t located close to roads anyway),beaches, college campuses, anyplace where beautiful girls assemble in any significant numbers”,how about being concentrated on your route and operation of the car when you’re going near these places?After all,you may have to go to the beach-if its’summer-or to YOUR college campus-if you’re a student,professor or have any other reason to be there……..

  111. brody says:

    hey Eric you are retarded about the alternator thing, if it was charging at the same rate it was releasing energy to start the vehicle it would be called perpetual motion and it would be 100%efficient which is impossible by the laws of physics. Dumbass

  112. Imran says:

    What?! So revving the car to warm it up is actually bad for the engine? Ive been doing it this whole time thinking it was the right way to go! So thanks a lot for the info.

  113. Jake says:

    I always tell my dad not to shift before the car stops, but he never listens to me.

    One thing I can’t understand is how turning off the accessories help the car last longer- when you start your car, it automatically shuts off these things, so why does it matter?
    Also, I know someone who waited until they were almost out of oil to change it. By some absolute miracle, they didn’t lock their engine, but they said it was running terribly. I wasn’t around to see this happen, or I would’ve probably sacrificed my evening changing their oil even though I hardly know the person.
    My car’s brakes squeal every now and then, but the brakes are good. Not all noises like that mean problems.

  114. Josh says:

    Im an american i will drive fast and rev my engine so suck it bitches

  115. oswaldo says:

    LOL the 10th one is the most dangerus of all

  116. alex says:

    the “opening opinions” are idiotic n 100% irrelevant..I wish I could get paid for such display of ‘freedom of speech”

  117. edgar says:

    Good advice for those who don’t know much about cars.
    I have a question? Living in the city of Laguna Beach there
    Are lots of hills. Can a vehicle or more importantly the engine
    Get ruined?

  118. WILD MAB says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO A CAR WITH ENOUGH SPACE TO GET A BJ IN THE FRONT SEAT

  119. jen says:

    lol the things you wrote were so funny, seriously! but thanks for posting this its been great to learn something new today on how to not damage my car for the 2nd time lol. right now i still owe my parents, lets just say hundreds…

  120. Anubis says:

    I Have 3 Cars. 2 of them are very expensive and one of them is so rare that I’ve been Looking for another one like it for about a year. I live in Palm Beach County FL, not far from “Moroso”, technically it’s not called that anymore but it’s what I’ll always call it. When they have test and tune nights at Moroso (which is the only way I’m going to get a real 1/4 mile time out of my cars because I will not put a rollcage in either of them. Plus, there not CRAZY fast, both of them run very low 11′s, But these 2 cars I do about 65% of my driving in one of them and 5% in the other and 30% in my Truck. I race with the same configuration as I drive, I don’t change wheels that have Slicks or even the DOT legal R compound Tires, In those 2 cars, I know it’s excessive, Especially when using a High Quality Synthetic, but I change the oil(Mobil 1) every 2,500 miles in the expensive yet not hard to replace car, and in the car that I drive once a week most of the time I change it when I change the other cars oil. However in my Truck, which also uses Mobil 1,High Quality Synthetics last alot longer than buying the cheapest oil you see. I have no problem taking it to 6,000miles. I usually don’t wait that long, but, if I did I wouldn’t be worried.

  121. Honda Civic says:

    I would also add, not changing oil on time or transmission oil on time. Simple things will keep your car driving for a long time.

  122. addsmiles says:

    Phew! I know where Iraq, India and Louisiana are on the map, but that did not save me from making some of the mistakes you mentioned above. Will try and rectify my habits that have been damaging my car.

    Thank you!

  123. Hazel says:

    HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CLUTCH IS OUT

  124. Lawson B says:

    loved the responses!!!!!!!

  125. vicki says:

    #3 is incomplete. You have to downshift. It’s not just for big trucks and buses. I’ll bet lots of people don’t even know they have other forward gears.

  126. derek says:

    not coming to a complete stop before shifting only applies to the clutch part of any transmission. nothing else on your car will go bad. not your suspension

    and the “Starting your car the wrong way” is total BS.

    also pressure washing the engine is totally fine. as long as your not stupid and avoid your electrical boxes