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Jamie Gibbs

Common mistakes to avoid if you’re a learner driver

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You’ve just passed your test and you can’t wait to start driving, just remember these simple techniques to keep your car in good condition.

Young woman driver annoyed

Most new drivers can’t wait to get behind the wheel when they’ve passed their test.

But often when getting used to their vehicle new drivers can be unaware of the little things that can cause damage.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid if you’re hitting the road for the first time.

Failing to get used to your car

For some, the first drive unaccompanied can be nerve wracking. On top of that there’s a good chance the car you’re driving is completely new to you too. 

Removing yourself from heavy traffic situations while you get used to your vehicle can help build your confidence.

You’ll also get an idea of how your new car runs as the clutch bite point, brakes, and power can all differ from car to car. 

Ignoring the “check engine” light

We’ve all done it. You find comfort in that the car keeps on running, seemingly without any issues. The problem can be as small as a loose oil cap, but the light can also indicate a more serious mechanical fault.

It’s one of these lights in your dash that don’t clearly indicate the source of the problem, so get your engine checked by a mechanic.

Driving with mismatched tyres

All four tyres of your motor have to be the same type and size. However, when you get a puncture, you may find yourself in a costly situation.

To avoid buying four new tyres, the least you can do is swap them in pairs.

You should avoid changing a single tyre even if it’s the exact same size because the remaining tyres would be worn out and, essentially, different.

Mismatching tyres can confuse your car’s ABS, affecting handling and braking.  

Neglecting the spare tyre

Imagine you’re driving along and all of a sudden you get a puncture. You calm yourself down thinking that you have a spare tyre you can use. But as soon as you take it out, you see that it’s also flat.

Spares need to be checked regularly as they do lose pressure over time. Plus the overall condition can worsen and old tyres can even crack.

Ignoring your car’s blind spots

Getting used to your new car can take some time. Be aware of any cars behind you, even if the road seems empty.

However, most new cars come with “blind spot assist” technology which detects cars behind you. Another solution is to install a blind spot mirror which offers a wider rear view.

Remember, even experienced drivers have to adjust when they switch vehicles.

Parking in gear. Instead use the hand brake.

When you stop at the top of a steep hill you can continuously rev the engine to keep the car from rolling backwards.

Also, parking on an incline without using the handbrake is possible and shifting into a gear will stop the car from moving downhill.

However, on both occasions you’re putting a lot of pressure on the gearbox. Remember to use your handbrake as it locks all wheels, including the non-drive ones.

Shifting into reverse before coming to a halt

The best way to get a worn out transmission and damaged gearbox is by throwing your car into reverse while still moving forward. 

This also applies when you drive backwards and shift into first without stopping. This puts a lot of pressure on your car’s gearbox, which greatly increases the chance of developing a serious fault.

Buying a car that you can’t afford to maintain

Although there are ways you can reduce the cost of ownership, running a car can be costly.

You can easily get ahead of yourself by getting a car that you can afford to buy, but can’t afford to maintain and run.

Considering the additional costs – such as Vehicle Excise Duty, insurance, fuel and general maintenance – is essential.

Neglecting the car’s fluids

Regular checks and care can extend a car’s engine life, reduce the risk of breaking down and save you a lot of expense down the road.

Apart from oil, it’s essential to check the car’s transmission fluid, brake fluid, power-steering fluid, and coolant.

It’s worth reading the car’s manual so you know when and what to check.

Failing to read the owner’s manual

Your car’s manual might not be the most entertaining read, but it pays off to be familiar with your expensive purchase.

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can be found there.

If you consider yourself motor savvy, it’s still worth reading it as newer cars tend to be richer in features.

First published on 9th of October 2015

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