How Driving Habits Affect Your Vehicle Maintenance Needs

March 30, 2017 3:40 pm Published by

emissionsNo two drivers are the same, and different driving habits can have major impacts on a vehicle’s engine, brakes, and fuel efficiency. As a result, driving habits should be taken in to account when you’re trying to determine when to service your car, motorcycle or truck. In this article, we’ll describe four types of common driving habits and detail the special maintenance needs they generate.


Heavy-Footed Acceleration

If you have a habit of accelerating fast, you may be putting stress on your transmission. Revving your engine means it is working harder than it should to deliver power to the wheels.

Driving at a constant speed of 60-65 mph on the highway is the better choice for your safety and bank account. By sticking to this constant speed, you’ll alleviate the risk of hazardous transmission breakdowns.

Off the highway, many drivers who feel crunched for time have a habit of reversing out of a parking spot and shifting into drive without stopping completely. If this action is repeated, especially after a reverse at a high speed, the engine’s drivetrain can be stressed to the point of breaking.

Most experts, including your local Jiffy Lube® technicians, recommend changing the transmission fluid and filter every two years or every 30,000 miles. If you have these heavy-foot habits, it’s vital you follow this schedule.


Heavy Hauling Brake Riders

The habits of drivers who enjoy towing a camper or trailer go a long way in determining any special maintenance needs.

Perhaps the most important habit to be aware of is “riding the brake.” This means you apply light, constant pressure on your brake to control your vehicle’s speed.

Even without towing anything, riding the brake going downhill stresses your brake system. When you factor in the added weight of your haul, this habit increases the friction and heats up your brake fluid even faster. In a worst case scenario, excessive brake-riding can boil the brake fluid and rob your vehicle of its ability to stop.

The solution is to keep the vehicle speed in check by downshifting (even in automatic transmissions). If you still need to use the brakes, use punctuated, more forceful brake pumps instead of keeping your foot lightly on the pedal. This technique helps the brakes cool off. 

While the typical recommendation for a brake service is every 12,000 miles, heavy-haulers should pay attention to common brake wear signs and come in earlier if necessary.


Fuel Gauge Daredevils

Some drivers like to stretch the limits of their vehicle’s fuel tanks. The temptation to “go one more exit” before re-fueling is hard to resist, even if the gauge needle is perilously low.

Unfortunately, this habit can spell trouble for your fuel system. Running on fumes increases the amount of sediment build-up in the system. This can:

  • Clog the fuel filter.
  • Burn out the fuel pump.
  • Hamper the fuel injector.

Vehicle manufacturer service schedules for fuel systems vary from 20,000 miles to 40,000 miles or more. If you are a fuel gauge daredevil, however, consider the earlier side of your recommended schedule.


The Short Tripper

On the complete other side of the spectrum, drivers in the habit of making trips of less than 5 miles are putting their vehicle to the test as well.

By performing several of these short trips per day, your vehicle is operating without reaching its maximum performance and efficiency. If this habit is sustained, the vehicle – and its systems — never warms up properly.

One easy fix for short-trip drivers is to take your vehicle out so it can reach its peak operating conditions at least once a month. Ideally on a highway when the traffic is light, this 20 to 30-minute trip will:

  • Help clean carbon deposits from the valves.
  • Get the engine oil to its maximum pressure.
  • Lubricate all the internal seals within the engine.
  • Allow the transmission to engage all gears. 

One of the best ways to mitigate the effects of short trips on your vehicle is to follow the time portion of your owner’s manual’s recommendation for an oil change service. For example, short trip drivers should come get a Signature Service® Oil Change every six months if the recommendation calls for it, “every six months or 7,500 miles.”


Summary: Driving Habits Play an Active Role in a Vehicle Maintenance Schedule

A study from AAA found that only 6 percent of motorists felt they did most of their driving under severe service conditions. But when asked about their actual driving behaviors, it turned out that 62 percent of them drove their vehicles in ways that could be classified as “severe” most of the time.

AAA included conditions such as short trips and hauling in its definition of “severe service conditions.” This means many drivers are putting their vehicles in stressful situations and they don’t know it. That’s why paying attention to the vehicle’s service recommendations is important. And if you have some of these habits, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle serviced at the early end of the recommended ranges.

When it comes time for a service, please consider one of our convenient locations throughout greater Sacramento and the Central Valleys. We’ll catch small issues before they become big, expensive problems and get you back on the road fast.


PLEASE NOTE: Not all Jiffy Lube® service centers offer the services mentioned in this article. Please check our website to ensure that your desired service is available there.

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