Want Your Car to Last? Here’s What You Shouldn’t Do

3. So you just got your own car. Maybe your parents bought it for you as a graduation present, or maybe you held down two jobs on top of freelance writing jobs just to earn the money you needed to buy that second-hand Prius you’ve been eyeing for months. Either way, it’s worth it. I mean, who cares how you got it? It’s your very own car!

You get in, put your shades on, play some music on the radio, and go on your very first drive as a new car owner. You notice how smooth the steering wheel is, how the engine purrs with the strength and majesty of a lion. You try your best to look cool as you drive even though the windows are heavily tinted and no one else can see you. You sniff in that new (or old) car smell. And then you think, “I hope this car will last forever.”

Reality check: it won’t.

According to a study by R.L. Polk, the average lifespan of an automobile is 11.4 years. In the same study, they found that you will probably fall out of love with your car in six years.

While you can’t keep your beloved Prius for your great-great-great grandchildren to use, you certainly can keep it until it honks its final honk. Here are some things you shouldn’t do if you want to make that happen:

1. Don’t Rest Your Hand on the Shifter

While the shifter does seem like the perfect hand rest, do not rest your hand on the shifter. This seemingly harmless habit will put unnecessary strain on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers, wearing them out even before you get your first dent. After all, having both hands on the steering wheel is the best and safest way to drive. You wouldn’t want to get into any road accidents, do you?

And since we’re already talking about the gear shift…

2. Don’t Shift and Drive

I think we’ve all been guilty of this. We’re backing out of the garage and we’re late for work, so we just immediately shift to drive mid-Reverse to save two seconds of our precious time.

The damage won’t be apparent immediately, but you’ll be sorry once you have to get your engine, transmission, or axle repaired. Just come to a full stop before shifting. Trust me: those two seconds wasted are worth it.

3. No Need for Speed

Unless there is an emergency, there is no need to floor it. Flooring it requires you to stomp on the brakes afterward, and that is certainly not going to do good things to your car’s health. Not only will this place a lot of pressure on the car’s driving components, but it will also cause a rapid wear to your brake pads and rotors. You might feel like Paul Walker (R.I.P) for a few moments, but I doubt you’ll feel great once the repair bills start piling up.

4. Don’t Overload

Maybe one of the most exciting things about getting your own car is getting to go on road trips with your friends. That’s fine, but just remember to not overload your car. Loading your car with more stuff than it can carry will consume more gas than it really needs, and it will also damage the suspension, drivetrain, and brakes. When you get home, don’t forget to unload everything that you don’t need. Just leave the essentials. It’s a car, after all, not a basement.

5. Don’t Forget Regular Maintenance

Lastly, you need to get regular maintenance for your car. A car is a responsibility. It’s like a baby. While it doesn’t cry and you don’t have to name it (unless you want to), it does need its regular check-ups. Get the oil and oil filter replaced every three months, get your transmission fluid and filter serviced and replaced every thirty months, and get your brake pad replaced every 20,000 and 60,000 miles. I know that’s a lot of numbers to remember, but I bet you’d want to see those instead of the numbers on a repair bill.