When we discuss car maintenance, especially maintenance over time, the conversation often turns to quality and reliability. While those two things play a major role, one thing that’s not talked about enough is driving habits. How you drive has a major impact on your car’s longevity and the maintenance costs you must endure. In general, you want to be smooth on the road. Here are five habits you need to stop doing to become a smooth driver and reduce the amount of maintenance you need to do to your car.

1. Braking Too Late

car with its brake lights on
Try your best to be smooth on the road and not heavy on your car's brakes.

Millions of people wait too long to brake. Many drivers aren’t looking far enough ahead when they drive. This means they don’t accurately anticipate road conditions and end up pushing heavily on their brakes more often than they should. Excessive late braking will wear down brake components more quickly, which means you’ll have to replace them sooner. Late braking also kills your gas mileage due to the fact that you’ll do lest starting and stopping if you plan for the road ahead and brake less often.

2. Driving Often on Low Gas

low gas light
You should fill up your tank well before this light comes on. 

Are you one of those people who drives around with the gas gauge needle perpetually on E? That can have some seriously negative impacts on your car. When your car gets below a quarter of a tank, the fuel pump has to work harder to get the job done. To combat this, all you have to do is keep plenty of gas in your tank. We know it sucks to watch the price on the gas pump climb as you full up your ride, but you’ll save money in the long run.

3. Shifting Too Quickly From Reverse to Drive

shifting from reverse to drive
Make sure you come to a complete stop before shifting into drive. 

You’ve probably don’t this once or twice without realizing it. You’re backing out of a parking space and in a hurry to get going, you apply the brakes, but before you come to a full stop, you shift into drive and take off. This sudden change of gears—even in an automatic transmission—can damage your powertrain over time. If you want to keep everything working as it was designed, you need to make sure you’re coming to a full stop. It’ll probably take just one or two more seconds, that’s it.

4. Being Hard on the Gas

man stepping on the gas pedal in a car
Be gentle with your gas pedal. Your car will thank you. 

It’s a lot of fun to hammer the throttle of a car and blast away from a light or stop sign, but that’s putting a lot of strain on multiple components of your car. We’re not saying you have to drive like a Prius driver, but you should try to take things a little slower if you want to keep your car in excellent condition. If you can keep your lead foot from mashing the throttle you’ll spend less money on tires, gas, and other maintenance to your car’s powertrain system.

5. Driving With Heavy Loads All the Time

Heavy load in a cargo space
Occasionally loading up your car is okay, but don't drive around like that all the time. 

If you need to carry a heavy load with you, that’s fine. That’s what your trunk or cargo space is for. It’s designed to help you transport your stuff around, but you don’t want to keep a ton of weight in your car all the time. Extra weight only places additional strain on vital parts of your car. Your powertrain, suspension, and brakes all have to work harder when the car is weighed down by a lot of junk. This can lead to needed repairs long before you would have needed them. It can also dramatically impact your car’s fuel economy. Try to keep the weight of your ride down and you’ll see efficiency and performance improve, and you’ll keep your maintenance bills down.