1. Delaying regular maintenance
Regularly maintaining your car is vital to your car's longevity. Regular maintenance includes oil and filter replacement, as well as transmission fluid, air filter and brake pad care. Every vehicle manufacturer specifies a different maintenance routine, which can be found in your owner's manual. While regular maintenance requires you to invest some time and money, it's peanuts compared to the cost of a new engine or transmission.
2. Ignoring dash warning lights
When a warning indicator lights up on your dash panel, it's important to address the problem immediately. If you don't know what the light means, check your owner's manual or call your mechanic. Dash warning lights can alert you to some very serious problems, such as a coolant leak, which can cause your engine to overheat. A simple preventative repair can often prevent a large problem down the line.
3. Shifting while moving
The transmission is one of the most complex and expensive parts in your car and it's important to use is as it was intended. Be careful not to shift from drive to reverse or vice versa while the car is still moving. This "jerky" shifting places excess strain on the transmission's internal gears and can instantly destroy it.
4. Jerky driving
We all know someone who accelerates wildly on every straightaway only to brake hard at a traffic light or stop sign. This type of driving won't destroy your car immediately, but will cause your engine, transmission and brake system to deteriorate much more quickly than intended. Cars that have been abused will have premature fluid leaks, broken seals and mechanical problems.
5. Putting off tire replacement
Tires for some cars can be expensive, so replacing them is an unwelcome cost. Driving on bald tires is very risky, however. If a tire blows out while you're driving, you can lose control of your vehicle and have a serious accident. And if you drive with bald tires in the rain, the risk of hydroplaning goes up tremendously. A new set of tires may seem pricey, but probably costs less than your car, and even less than your insurance deductible.
Stan Markuze is the founder of PartMyRide, the online marketplace for used auto parts.