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The driving habits of Northern Ireland motorists could be secretly damaging their vehicles.

We all develop certain habits when driving – good and bad – and some could be putting your car under unnecessary strain and ultimately lead to costly repairs.

Here are five everyday driving habits that are secretly damaging your car.

1. Resting your hand on the gearstick.

Perhaps the most common habit amongst NI drivers, leaving your hand resting on the gearstick damages your car.

Resting your hand on the gearstick causes damage to the selector fork – a mechanism in the gearbox that allows the driver to shift through gears – causing preventable wear as well as affecting your transmission.

Instead, rest your arm and hand on the armrest and avoid touching the gearstick until you need to use it.

2. Overloading your car.

Most cars are designed to carry heavy(ish) loads, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should load your car with unnecessary weight.

Glance through your car’s owner manual; the manufacturer will usually specify the maximum load weight.

Please pay close attention to the weight of your car’s loads particularly when going on holiday or moving house; they’re two occasions when cars are packed full of unusually heavy loads that could damage your vehicle.

A heavy load carried in your car puts a strain on your suspension, brakes and drivetrain, which ultimately could lead to an expensive repair bill.

And that’s not the only cash you’re parting with if your car is weighed down; a car packed full of heavy objects will affect your fuel economy too.

3. Hitting road bumps and potholes.

Road bumps and potholes are the bane of NI drivers and can cause significant damage to your car.

But it’s vital to remember why road bumps are there; they’re usually located in built-up areas with lots of pedestrians.

With that in mind, always err on the side of caution when driving over speed bumps, the slower you go over them, the less chance of causing damage to the underside of your car and suspension.

Northern Ireland is, unfortunately, a country of potholes too; many hidden under leaves on winding country lanes.

And driving over a pothole at speed can result in tyre blowouts, broken alloys, and also affect the alignment and tracking of your wheels.

4. Ignoring warning lights can damage your car further.

Warning lights on your car should (in theory anyway!) only come on when something is wrong with your vehicle.

And many drivers ignore the warning lights and hope it’ll sort itself out; unfortunately, this rarely happens.

Ignoring warning lights on your car is risky; allowing engine issues to fester unperturbed can result in thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Get to know your car; one of the simplest ways is by reading your manufacturer’s owner manual, which should show you what each warning light means.

5. Riding the clutch leads to significant wear.

You’ll remember your driving instructor warning you, “Don’t ride the clutch!”

And they have a point; riding the clutch causes excessive wear and tear to your clutch, and of course, the resultant repair bills don’t come cheap.

Avoid this by making sure you lift your foot from the clutch pedal after changing gears.

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