A car is a big investment, and most of us want to keep our cars running (and looking) their best for as long as possible. But sometimes, we're our own worst enemies. I know I'm guilty of a few of these bad habits!

1.       Not using the parking brake.

I almost never use my parking brake, unless I'm on a hill, but really, that's not a great idea. If you don't engage the parking brake, you're putting the entire weight of your car on a little piece of a metal called a parking prawl (it's in the transmission). It can wear out or break eventually from the strain. Using the parking brake takes some of the (literal) pressure off, helping that part last longer.

2.       Keeping the Gas Tank Low

Sometimes, you're in a hurry, or you're short on cash, and putting $5 or $10 in to get you above empty and carry you through is the best you can do. But over time, it's a bad habit. Most car fuel pumps keep cool by staying submerged in fuel, so if you drive a lot at a quarter tank or less, you risk damaging the fuel pump.

3.       Driving right away.

This one is debated. Most new cars don't need to be "warmed up", but letting your car sit for a minute or two after starting it is a good idea. It helps distribute oil through the engine and gets the oil up to temperature. Waiting sixty seconds can make a big difference. And think about it, by the time you get yourself buckled and settled, you're usually halfway there!

4.       Flooring it.

Most people don't do this once they're outgrown their teenage years (and a lot of teenagers don't do it either), but accelerating (and subsequently braking) hard puts so much stress on the drivetrain and brakes. It's not worth the quick thrill!

5.       Carrying Too Much Weight

The more a car weighs, the more stress it puts on the car. And the more stress, the more fuel you'll consume. Yes, keep stocked with what you need, but cleaning out unnecessary junk that can accumulate makes a difference in the long run.

6.       Riding the Brakes Downhill

Staying on the brake while going downhill causes heat to build up in the brake pads and rotors, causing wear and risking overheating. A smarter idea is shifting into a lower gear.

7.       Neglecting Warning Signs

When something is starting to go wrong, your car will give you signs. Vibrations, noises, the feeling of something "off" - these should all be addressed sooner rather than later. A little upkeep is much better than a big repair bill later on!

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