That’s right, we said it. Stop trying to baby your car thinking your are helping it. You may actually be causing more problems. Doctor’s recommend exercise to get blood circulating at full capacity and keep our muscles healthy and organs running at top function. Cars need some exercise to stay healthy as well, or they may deteriorate and experience more problems. We don’t mean beat the car to death, but read on and we will explain.
A friend of mine has a saying, “A redline a day keeps the mechanic away.” While that may be a justification of having fun with a car, there is an element of truth to it. Engines need to run in their full RPM range regularly to keep functioning at their best. The pressure of high-rpm operation helps keep piston rings seated and increases oil pressure, much like running increases blood circulation.
When you drive your car at low throttle inputs and low RPM, such as lugging around town, you allow dirt to build up in the intake, on the valves, and even in the combustion chamber. Brisk acceleration (flooring it) will introduce more air, fuel, and heat to burn away those carbon deposits, push oil through all the passages, and keep everything nice and clean.
At low RPM, the engine often operates at lower temperatures so fuel burns incompletely. That leaves behind carbon deposits that can ruin catalytic converters, EGR systems, and cause a poor running engine. Spirited driving helps burn these away before the buildup causes problems that can be rather expensive. It also increases oil pressure which can help bearings last longer and seals stay fresh.
Some cars have infamous problems that are entirely caused by owners driving slowly to “baby” the car. Mazda Rotary engines, in cars like the RX-7 and RX-8 are prone to apex seal failure and flooding when owners drive gingerly. 90s and early 2000s Porsche 911’s had problems with the IMS bearing due to insufficient oil flow at low RPM. Both of these problems were prevented when owners drove the cars at high-RPM and full throttle periodically. Ironically, race cars saw fewer of these problems than road-going cars.
Automatic transmissions often hold up better when drivers accelerate more briskly, because the transmission shifts firmer and quicker with less wear to the clutch packs. 4×4 systems and locking differentials are prone to seizing and failure when not used regularly. Engines never heated up to full operating temperature can see bearing failure and condensation form in the oil causing corrosion. A little more throttle can help all of these.
Now, we aren’t trying to say you should floor your car everywhere, all the time. Hard throttle on a cold engine can accelerate wear, and hard driving does add to increased wear on suspension and drivetrain components, not to mention the fuel economy penalty. We recommend accelerating quickly, but safely on highway on-ramps, or taking a long drive on windy country roads to drive the car at both high and low RPM’s every once in a while. These will make you smile, and make your car happy and healthy.