AutosAre you a calm driver? Five faults can appear in your car

Are you a calm driver? Five faults can appear in your car

Too calm driving can over time cause problems with the car.
Too calm driving can over time cause problems with the car.
Images source: © Pixabay | Pexels
9:11 AM EDT, October 15, 2023

Dynamic driving always carries certain negative effects, which can manifest not only in terms of legal consequences, but also in matters related to vehicle operation. But there are certain malfunctions that may occur earlier or more frequently if the driver treats his car too gently. Here are five such problems.

Personally, I am a fan of calm, gentle driving style, which is further sweetened with a smile on my face, pleasant music and focus on what's happening around the vehicle. This is also the most effective way to reduce fuel consumption, which in turn translates into lowering the cost of maintaining the car. However, sometimes long-term, uninterrupted driving in this style may lead to certain defects or malfunctions, which then may make themselves known in the workshop. It just takes a bit of effort to fix this, although it is not always possible.

Problems with the DPF filter

DPF filters have been one of the biggest problems for users of Diesel engines for about twenty years. On the other hand, they are the only known way to reduce the toxicity of these vehicles' emissions. Currently, these filters are so advanced that they can burn off at both low rotational speeds and during city driving.

If you notice that the DPF filter in your car burns off too frequently or clogs up too quickly, it may indicate that your driving style is not suitable for this type of vehicle. Gentle acceleration, low RPMs, short distances, longer idle times while driving (for example, at traffic lights) are the most common operational causes of earlier filling of particulate filters.

How can this be remedied? If the problem is frequent city driving, occasionally plan a longer bypass route, even if it means losing some time and increasing mileage. Also, when traveling outside the city, it's worth using expressways and doing a few dynamic accelerations during this time. It's good to drive with an average load and at a fairly constant speed for a few to several minutes.

Problems with the EGR valve

The EGR valve, or Exhaust Gas Recirculation, is an important element of the vehicle's exhaust system. Its main function is to open in order to allow a certain amount of exhaust gases back into the combustion chambers. Thanks to this process, the toxicity of the gases emerging from the exhaust system is significantly lower. Typically, the EGR valve opens during driving with low or medium load, but never operates at full load or at idle speed.

What does this mean for the driver? During prolonged driving with low or medium load, the EGR valve opens more often, resulting in faster contamination. But that's not the only problem. Exhaust gases, which are further passed directly to the combustion chambers, also cause damage. Impurities are deposited on the engine head, which are difficult to remove. In addition, the entire intake system, and in particular in direct injection engines, can be contaminated.

How to deal with this? Unfortunately, there is no clear solution to this problem. Regular cleaning of the valve and intake system can help, but dynamic driving will change little because then the valve is closed, and contamination does not disappear. Nonetheless, occasional use of high RPM and heavy loads can benefit the cleanliness of the intake and exhaust system.

Problem with water in oil and exhaust

Another problem that drivers may encounter is the accumulation of water in the oil and exhaust. Driving short distances, as well as driving with low load in the fall-winter period, leads to the accumulation of condensation from the engine and exhaust system. Water, when mixed with oil, creates a substance with the consistency of warm butter of a brown color. Even if it is not visible, the oil ages faster, and the components that operate under oil pressure become less efficient.

Additionally, the exhaust system rusts much faster if it's not properly heated, and water lingers in it. The more modern the car, with a more complex exhaust purification system, the bigger the problem.

How to deal with this? It is worth thoroughly warming the entire car from time to time, not just the coolant. The drive should end such that the exhaust "pops" after stopping and turning off the engine. All it takes is a dozen or so minutes of freeway driving or several dynamic accelerations, for example, while driving along a service road parallel to the freeway. Of course, all this should take place after the engine has warmed up to operating temperature.

Another important aspect is caring for the cooling system. A functional cooling system allows the engine to heat up more quickly. If the engine is underheated (especially diesel), it negatively impacts every one of the areas described above.

The last, but no less important rule concerns oil. It should be of the appropriate viscosity and quality, so that it still fulfills its function even after little reduction in parameters. When driving short distances, especially around the city, the oil should be changed more often.

Problem with automatic gearbox adaptation

Have you ever heard of the term "intelligent gearboxes"? You may have come across this term, which car manufacturers often use, not always in a purely marketing context. Many automatic gearboxes have the ability to adapt to the driver's driving style, which may be quite surprising to some people. Most often this adaptation is short-term, meaning that the gearbox adjusts its operation to the driving style from the moment the engine is started. However, it does happen that after many years of use, an automatic gearbox may function differently than it did in the beginning.

It's possible that you'll notice this especially after purchasing a used car with high mileage. If you've bought a vehicle from someone who drove it very calmly, the automatic transmission may be reluctant to downshift. In such a case, it may be necessary to nearly floor the gas pedal to force a downshift. However, this doesn't necessarily indicate a malfunction, although it could be due to maintenance neglect, such as a non-adjusted kickdown cable or lack of oil change.

What to do in such a situation? A good solution is to visit a mechanic who specializes in transmissions or electronics, in order to "reset" the system. It's also worth changing the oil, ideally 2-3 times in a short period of time. As a result, the automatic transmission will start working "clean" and for the next several thousand miles it will adapt to your driving style.

Problem with the brake system

Another part of the car that may suffer from utilizing a small portion of its capabilities is the brake system. This is especially true for the rear brakes, which are barely used in normal road traffic, let alone during gentle driving.

Brakes that are used only sporadically and to a minimal extent can start to rust, and even stop working properly due to the pistons or other moving parts of the system becoming jammed. Worse still, the driver may only find out about this in an emergency situation.

What to do to prevent this? First of all, from time to time it is worth speeding up more powerfully and drastically reducing speed, preferably a few times, making sure in advance that no one is driving behind you. During strong braking, you will find out how efficient the system is. Loud brake scraping may be a symptom of irregularities in the system and the need to at least perform a thorough inspection. It can also result from corrosion of brake discs.

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