5 Common Driving Habits that Damage Your Car

A photo of a car's interior.
A photo of the interior of a saloon car.
CC Top Shop

Everyone dreams of owning their own car. 

The allure of a vehicle lies not only in the convenience it offers in commuting from one place to another but also in the prestige associated with being a car owner. 

The joy of cruising down a highway, feeling the adrenaline rush, is an experience coveted by many.

However, amid the freedom of the road and the comfort of your own vehicle, it's easy to develop habits that, unknowingly, can be detrimental to your car's longevity. These habits, once ingrained in your behaviour as a driver, can shorten the lifespan of your vehicle.

Kenyans.co.ke takes a look at some of these habits, which will serve as a guide to help you ensure your car remains in peak condition for years and serve you for as long as possible.

Resting Your Hand on the Gearstick

Drivers typically rest their gear-changing hand on the gearstick, a habit that often develops after long hours of driving. 

However, what they may not be aware of is that this seemingly harmless habit can have detrimental effects on the gearbox.

Inside your car's gearbox, there are various parts that help you change gears smoothly. 

One of these parts is the gearstick, which you use to shift gears.

Inside the gearbox, there are small components called synchromesh and shift forks. 

These parts work together to make sure your gears change smoothly. But, if you rest your hand on the gearstick, you're putting extra pressure on these parts.

This extra pressure can mess up the smooth process of changing gears. 

So, it is advisable to keep your hands off the gearstick when you're not actively changing gears. 

This will help your car stay in good shape and ensure a smoother ride in the long run.

Gear lever of an automatic transmission
Gear lever of an automatic transmission

Shifting From Reverse to Drive

Switching between reverse and drive in an automatic car is harmful to the transmission. 

The automatic gearbox is meant for shifting gears, not for stopping the car – that's the brakes' functionality. 

If you shift gears before fully stopping, it wears out the transmission band, which is expensive to fix. 

Brake parts are easier and cheaper to replace compared to transmission repairs.

Not Utilising the Handbrake

Improper use of the handbrake places the entire weight of your vehicle on the parking pawl, causing it to wear down significantly.

This wear and tear can interfere with your car's overall functionality, leading to costly repairs. 

As a driver, you must consistently engage the handbrake correctly to distribute the weight evenly and prevent undue stress on the parking pawl.

This will ensure the long-term health of your vehicle.

Applying Full Throttle

Driving with the gas pedal fully pressed can harm your engine. 

It puts a lot of pressure on the engine and transmission, creating heat that can damage oil, seals, and metal parts. 

This damage happens over time and can be costly to fix. 

It's best to avoid driving at full throttle for long periods to keep your engine in good condition and save on repair expenses. 

Downhill Braking

Braking downhill makes your car's brakes wear out quickly due to heat. 

To prevent this, downshift (putting the engine of a vehicle into a lower gear) instead of using brakes excessively. 

Also, drive carefully, avoid sudden stops, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. 

Regularly check brake fluid levels and use quality brake pads. 


A collage of cars stuck in traffic in Nairobi (left) and a car missing some parts (right)
A collage of cars stuck in traffic in Nairobi (left) and a car missing some parts (right)
Oriop Tengecha