Whether it was when we were young and new to the wheel, or whether it’s become a character trait of your driving, we’ve all pushed a car a bit too hard. And generally speaking, cars don’t like that.
Get yourself a race car and you can thrash it to within an inch of its life, but do the same with your road car and bits will start to fall off. So what are the signs? Worry not, as we’ve listed the top five right here…
01 You spend too much time at the pumps
If you're only covering an average number of kilometres yet have to fill up every other day at the service station, it may be time to look at your driving style.
The heavier you are on the throttle, the more fuel you use. And if that sounds like an obvious conclusion to reach, it’s because it is.
But what many fail to realise is that all that revving, all those late gear-changes, all that getting to the speed limit as fast as possible… it achieves nothing. Just relax your driving, you’ll still get to your destination at roughly the same time. Trust us.
02 What’s that smell?
Cars are funny things. For example, one way they’ll communicate with you is through smell. Don’t worry, we’re not going to go full Attenborough on you. Just know that if you’re hammering your motor, it will tell your nose.
If it smells hot, then it’s too hot. If you can smell a musky, foul smell, that’ll be you slipping the clutch. Can you smell a burning odour akin to a damp fire, that’ll be your brakes cooking. If you can smell tomato soup, your drive home from the supermarket was far too vigorous.
03 It used to work, but now it doesn’t…
Things wear out on cars, that’s a given. But the speed at which they wear out the severity, too, are very much down to the way you drive it. For example, if you find it’s getting harder to select gears, that could be a sign you’re shifting too aggressively, as the linkages and bushes could be worn.
Bumps and clonks from under the car could be a sign that your bushes are worn. Or maybe your suspension is creaking or perhaps a bit too soft – have you worn out the shock absorbers? Quite probably.
04 Feeling tyred
This is the most obvious one, but if you’re having to go to the local garage a bit too often for new tyres, that’s a dead giveaway that you’re pushing your car too hard. The brakes do their best, and the suspension works hard, but at the end of the day, every input you feed into the car is translated onto the road by the tyres.
A normal driving style should see a good 15,000 km from a set of tyres. But if you throw the car around with reckless abandon, you could half or even quarter that.
05 (Try to) start your engines
A tired car is not a forgiving car. If you push it too hard on a regular basis it will reward you by being deeply recalcitrant when you try and start it. And that could be because the ignition system is worn out, it could be because you need to give it a damn good service, it might be down to a compression issue or maybe something worse from deep within the engine.
Cars are designed to be driven, but not abused. And generally speaking, they don’t fail to start for no good reason.