Come on now, admit it, we’ve all done it - acted like we were the star of our own action movie "Drive Hard!" Whether it was when we were young and new behind the wheel, or whether it’s just become a character trait of your driving, it happens to everyone. 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, which is why they spend off weekends in the shop, but do the same with your road car and bits will start to fall off. So what are the signs that you are in an abusive relationship with your car? Worry not, as we’ve listed the top five right here…
1) You spend too much time at the pumps
This is the simplest one. If you only get fuel $10 at a time, you’re obviously going to be on first name terms with homeless man who wants to wash your windows. But if you’re filling up every time and yet still find yourself on his Christmas card list, it may be time to look at your driving style.
The more aggressive 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.
What many hard drivers fail to realize is that all that revving, all those late gear-changes, all that getting to the speed limit as fast as possible… it achieves nothing in your day to day commute. You just get to that red light a few seconds sooner. Just relax your driving, you’ll still get to your destination at the same time. Trust us.
2) What’s that smell?
Cars are funny things. Much like a pet, it has ways of letting you know when it is not well. For example, one way they’ll communicate with you is through smell. 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, horrid, foul smell, that’ll be your clutch burning up from slipping. Can you smell a burning odor 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.
3) 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 is 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 syncros and bushings could be worn.
Bumps and clonks from under the car could be a sign that control arm bushings or anti-roll bar end links are worn. Or maybe your suspension is creaking or your car wallow over bumps and dips – have you blown the shock absorbers? Quite probably.
4) Feeling tired
This is the most obvious one, but if you’re having to replace the tires every year, 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 tires.
A normal driving style should see 10,000 miles from even sticky sports car tires, and normal passenger cars can go 50,000 miles if driven in a relaxed manner . But if you throw the car into every corner with reckless abandon, you could half or even quarter that.
5) (Try and) start your engines
A tired car is not a forgiving car. If you push it too hard, too often, it will reward you by being reluctant to start in the morning. And that could be because the battery or starter don't like all the heat you've been generating under the hood. Or it could be worse, like worn rings and pistons from oil starvation as you corner like Steve McQueen, or a gasket that has started to leak because you overheated it and warped the head.
Cars are designed to be driven, but not abused. And generally speaking, they don’t suddenly fail to start for no good reason.