Driving Behaviors That Hurt Your Finances

Published March 20, 2017 by Sean Jackson

There are no doubt manufacturers engineer SUVs to withstand the harshest of conditions such as inclement weather, rugged terrain, and even the lead foot driver. At the same time, aggressive driving behaviors over time can tax even the most durable SUV, resulting in critical parts such as its brakes, tires, and even some of its engine components wearing down much faster than intended. Here’s a closer look at how some driving behaviors wear down critical parts and empty your wallet faster.


It’s exhilarating to open up your SUV and see it move past the clunky traffic. After all, brisk acceleration is one of the perks of having a high-performance SUV. As exhilarating at this can be, it does come at a cost to your SUV and your wallet. Earth Easy estimates it takes 50 percent of your engine’s power to accelerate when you do city commuting. This makes sense given the stop and go flow of traffic. Therefore, if you channel your inner Steve McQueen every opportunity you receive, it results in more fun but expensive drives. The reason for this is every time your SUV stops, it takes more power from the engine to propel it forward. With this in mind, pressing the gas pedal to the floor increases the amount of exertion the engine outputs to correspond with your demands. This results in less fuel efficiency--and SUVs don’t have a great reputation for fuel efficiency in the city anyways--and more stress placed on the engine and its components. Over time, this can be an expensive issue because not only are you are fueling up the SUV more often, your engine will need more maintenance due to you overusing it. The same applies with highway driving. Rapid acceleration and driving faster than the speed limit can reduce your SUV’s fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent, according to FuelEconomy.gov. A hard rule is to try to drive under 50 miles per hour whenever you can. FuelEconomy.gov reports that for every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 mph results in you losing $0.16 per gallon. This might not seem like much, but if you do highway commuting often over time you could be losing out on hundreds of dollars. Let’s do the math. Say you drive the 2017 Ford Escape which has a fuel tank capacity of 15.7 gallons, you do the brunt of your driving on the highway and you average 60 miles per hour. Using the estimation provided by FuelEconomy.gov your behaviors result in you paying an additional $0.32 of gas or $5.02 per fill up. You fill up once a week, 52 weeks of the year and that’s an added $261.29 you have to pay for gas. It might not seem like much on the surface, but chances are you could use that money for more important expenses.

Aggressive Braking

Sometimes your surroundings dictate how fast you must brake. A deer running out on the road or a vehicle veering into your lane without a turn signal prompts you to slam on the brakes. Hopefully, though these are isolated incidents. With that said, if you drive aggressively, you are more likely to speed. Because of the faster speed, your reaction times have to be quicker, resulting in you slamming on your brakes more often to avoid collisions. Due to this, it takes a bite out of your finances in two ways. First, it lowers your SUV’s fuel efficiency. Braking promptly means you’ll have to accelerate your vehicle from a stopped position, placing more exertion on your SUV’s engine. This lowers your SUV’s ability to maximize fuel efficiency. Conversely, if you adhere to the speed limits and maintain a safe distance of more than one car length away from the vehicle ahead of you, it reduces the opportunities where you need to slam on your brakes. This approach can save you anywhere from $0.23 to $0.92 per gallon according to FuelEconomy.gov. Fuel efficiency is only one aspect of the ownership costs, though. When you slam on the brakes quickly, especially at a high speed, it increases the temperature of the brakes and the energy they use to stop your SUV promptly. Do this regularly, and you’ll wear down the brake pads and rotors, resulting in you having to replace them more often than you would have with regular use. Financially, this is problematic because you lose money in filling up your SUV’s tank more often and you have to replace parts like its brakes regularly, equating to more money out of your pocket than if you would have developed less aggressive driving behaviors.

City Driving

City driving is more detrimental to your SUV because it creates more stress on it. The hiccuping traffic means you’ll have to accelerate more often from a stopped position, creating more stress on the SUV’s engine. In turn, this lowers its fuel efficiency. Along with this, city driving means you’ll brake excessively, which can wear down components like brake pads and even the tires quicker than you would with highway commuting. If you can help it, do more of your driving on the highway. This allows you to reach cruising speeds where you maximize fuel efficiency and it reduces the amount of stress placed on your SUV because you won’t have to stop and go as much. Moreover, if you live in a city with heavy traffic congestion, consider alternatives such as public transportation to reduce your SUV’s expenses.

Driving Tools

Altering your driving behaviors is the best way to maximize the value from your SUV. To change behaviors, consider installing a driver feedback device. These devices help you learn more about your behaviors so you can receive the most efficiency from your SUV. In addition, by maintaining steady speeds, you lessen the amount of energy your SUV’s engine has to use, which can help it perform better for longer, saving you money now and well into the future.

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