Habits and resolutions are something we all work on from time to time. Studies consistently show that while we’re good at setting habit intentions, we’re not as good at making them stick. Up to 80 percent of people give up or fail within the first 30 days of implementing a new habit.
Driving habits are difficult to break. While the basic skills we learned from our parents or a driving instructor, most habits we pick up as we age. If cell phones weren’t a thing when you were learning, you picked up the habit as new technology was introduced. If you text and drive, for example, you’re increasing your risk of an accident.
But some habits go deeper and impact the way your car operates. Your driving habits can cause uneven wear on your tires, wear your breaks long before their stated lifespan, or even affect your fuel efficiency. Damage may start out small, but if you’re consistent with your driving habits, it may be destroying your suspension system.
You don’t have to drive slow, take the back roads, or avoid driving altogether to keep your vehicle in good working condition. By being conscious of hazards and practicing good driving, your car will remain in good condition for the life of your car.
Do you find any of these daily driving habits in your normal routine?
Driving too fast
The faster you drive, the more risk you take while on the road. You become a defensive driver, always responding quickly to what’s happening around you.
If you tailgate and drive too close to the car in front of you, for example, you’ll be in reactionary mode. If they tap their brakes, you’ll slam down on your brake pedal to adjust your driving to match the road conditions. This wears down many parts within the suspension system, including the brake pads, rotors, shocks and struts. It can wear out all parts within the braking system prematurely, put you more at risk while you drive, and cost you more money as you’ll have more repair bills over time.
You’ll also risk overheating the brakes. Here in Colorado, that can be a real risk, especially if you drive in the mountains frequently. Keeping your foot on the brakes is never a good idea while descending from higher altitudes. It’s tough on the suspension system if you slam on the brakes.
Hitting speed bumps without slowing down
The dreaded speed bump. They may have been designed to slow you down, but instead, you look at them as an inconvenience in how you drive. Ignore them and hit them at your regular speed and they can do extensive damage to your suspension.
While they may be annoying, they are placed on the road for a purpose. They are designed to slow you down; in this case, it’s a good idea to follow the rules.
While it may seem to do little to your car the first time you hit one, or the tenth, the damage is cumulative. You can hit it multiple times without visible consequences, but one day, you’ll face a multitude of problems. Like a blown tire, a broken shock or strut, or even break an axle if it’s old and in bad shape. The suspension system is designed for smooth driving conditions. The harder you take the largest bumps and dips in the road, the more impact it will have on all 30,000 parts.
Slamming into parking space dividers
How fast do you drive as you park your car? Are you always in a hurry to get where you’re going? Do you use the parking space dividers as a checkpoint to bring you to a halt rather than as a guide to keep your car safe?
Those parking space dividers may be there as a guide to keep you within the lines of the parking space, but they are big enough to do severe damage to your suspension system.
As you move your car forward into the parking space, your tires, wheels, and entire suspension system are in forward rotation. If they bump into the parking space divider, it brings your entire vehicle to a sudden stop. That jolts the wheels, and forces the whole system into a direction it’s not prepared to go. Damage may be unnoticeable the first time. Over multiple times you will start to hear and feel the results.
Now that you’re aware of what hitting a parking space divider can do, let’s talk about curbs. Curbs are built as dividers to keep the road separate from walkways and private property. They are built at about the same height as parking space dividers, and can create extensive damage to your vehicle.
Instead of creating a sudden forward/stop motion, hitting a curb can bounce your car around like a bumper car. It may be going forward one moment, but in an instant it’s moving sideways and in all directions in a matter of seconds.
Or maybe you’re in an area where parallel parking is a mandatory part of living. You used the curbs as a telltale sign you’re close enough to the curb. Every time you hit it, it forces your suspension to adjust to a new direction instantly. It can knock your wheels out of alignment, damage your tires and wheels, and create havoc on the suspension system.
Avoid road debris
The more aware you are of driving conditions, the better your car will handle over time.
Colorado seems to be a constant landmine filled with potholes, rocks, miscellaneous debris that drops off cars and trucks, tire rubber, and more. If you’re not aware of what’s in the road in front of you, if you drive too closely to watch for things in the road, your chances of hitting it increase.
Spotting hazards gives you a chance to avoid the issues before you hit them. It also allows you to have more control, adjust slowly to issues rather than jerking the wheel, and preventing damage to your car over time.
Be aware. It’s one of the best ways to keep your car safe from anything standing in your way.
How are your driving habits?
If you choose to change and adjust the way you drive, remember, it’s not a race but a journey. Be aware of how you drive. Make conscious changes.
Your car will thank you.