I was in a taxi cab in New York City recently, and the driver was flying through the streets like a madman. He sped up after each light and then braked violently every time he had to stop again. Then, he commented about the high cost of gas and how he has to replace his brakes all the time. He acted surprised, but after being in his cab for about an hour, we were not.
At Leehigh Autobody And Service Center, we fix cars every day that need new brakes and other components and in many cases, these problems are at least partially caused by aggressive driving.
Should you be accelerating steadily or is hitting the gas pedal aggressively followed by gliding along the preferred way to go? Remember--you are not Mario Andretti and you're not racing in the Indy 500. An even, steady acceleration will burn less fuel than a sudden start every time. A majority of all four-vehicle crashes occur when drivers hit the gas pedal too hard. This customarily positions cars too close to each other and then they are unable to brake in time when traffic slows done. That's when you get a series of backend collisions and unfortunately, a lot of back and neck injuries as a result.
If your vehicle features an automatic transmission, you aren’t doing the shifting anyway--correct? Well, not really, because your car shifts when it thinks you want it to, and it makes this conclusion based on what you’re doing with your pedals. If you’re passing slower traffic, your foot is obviously going to hit the gas pedal a little harder, which will cause the car to shift into a lower gear in order to pass successfully. But if you press the accelerator hard initially and then back off considerably, your transmission thinks you’re finished and shifts up a gear to conserve fuel. Steady and even is the rule when shifting, so always keep that in mind.
Drivers with manual transmissions can drive their cars incorrectly too and often do. If you are slowing down to where your engine is below 1,000 RPM, you obviously need to shift into a higher gear. The main problem here is that by calling upon your transmission with a lower RPM, your car will be under unnecessary stress. You will also be burning more fuel than you would if you downshifted!
Slamming on the Brakes
Logically, every time you ride your brakes you’re wearing them out, but don't stress out, because your brakes are made to wear. However, you can still certainly cause unwanted wear on your brake components by using them incorrectly. Unhurried, steady braking at a stop light is much more forgiving to your brake pads and discs than an aggressive stomp on the pedal. Not only does this cause wear, but it also causes friction and heat, which in a worst-case scenario that could lead to an abrupt brake failure.
Here in Dulles and all over VA, people are damaging their vehicles by driving them way too hard. Ease off both pedals and you will see that your car will perform better and you will save fuel as well!
Sources: About.com, Speed and the Green Garage Challenge