The car engine is not the only important part of a car; there are a lot of features/functions in cars that work to guarantee the passengers and driver are always safe. However, Some car functions are always misused by drivers unknowingly. You could say such drivers abuse these vehicles. What are some misused car functions? Check out some car parts and their functions with pictures below.
Car abuse is real! Overloading is a crime
Misused car functions
1. Fuel Guage
The fuel gauge is an indicator of how much fuel you have stored in the gas tank of your car. All gauges on the dashboard and their functions should be mandatorily known by every driver. There are three things here I would like to make clear regarding the fuel gauge.
- The First: The side of the car, where the fuel door leading to the fuel tank is, is not determined by the direction the fuel gauge needle is facing.
The only accurate way of knowing is by following the direction of the arrow just beside the gas station logo icon on the gauge.
The only true way to tell where fuel door is
However, the car might have been converted into a left-hand drive when it was imported to Nigeria and the arrow might still be misleading. The best way to know where the fuel door is placed is by checking it visually.
- The second: You can still drive over 30 miles when your fuel light is on
You should never wait till the fuel gauge gets to the "E" mark before you refuel. Your guide to refueling should be the light that comes on once the car is running on reserve fuel.
A car on almost empty fuel level
A lot of times, we abuse the fuel gauge by allowing it to get to "E" before refueling, driving on reserve fuel affects our cars negatively.
- The third: When cars are refueled in small bits, it reduces the fuel consumption of the car
Storing fuel in containers and refueling in small bits on the go is very dangerous. This is a common practice amongst commercial Nigerian drivers. They have a wrong belief that when cars are refueled in small bits, it reduces the fuel consumption of the car. Storing fuel in a car should be avoided at all costs except during long trips to areas without gas stations.
Storing fuel in the car should be avoided
The fuel tank is the most inflammable car part. The safest place to refuel is in gas stations because they use nozzles that go deep into the fuel tank opening at the fuel door.
2. Small Tab under the rearview mirror
Have you noticed a small tab under your rearview mirror? That tab is there for night driving and it is called "dimmer switch". When you are driving at night and a car approaching from behind has its headlamps on, it will reflect on your rearview mirror and blind you.
Arrow indicating the tab for rearview mirror
Once you flip that tab, it adjusts the mirror angle to reduce the blinding effect of the headlamps shining into the mirror.
You flip the tab with your hand!
You should set your rearview normally during the day and only flip the tab forward/backward at night when you are blinded by lights of approaching cars from behind.
Bright lights on the rearview mirror at night
Newer cars have the dimmer switch in form of a button that automatically dims the lights appearing on the mirror at night when you drive. This is done through Electrochromism.
Auto dimmer switch in modern cars
Electrochromism is a phenomenon that allows materials to change color when different energy levels are applied to them
3. Braking wrongly
Brakes are very important components of a car that come into play whenever you need to reduce the car's speed. However, I notice that a lot of drivers, especially learners, abuse the braking system by applying it whenever a car is approaching them on a single carriageway.
Description of braking on a single carriageway
There are two lanes, all you have to do is stay in your lane and keep driving. You do not need braking because a car is approaching. It will just take its lane and everyone will be fine. Braking suddenly makes your car consume more fuel.
A man suddenly pressing the brakes
There is always that fear once a car shows up from a distance in front of you, I understand. You should work on your lane keeping skills to improve your gas mileage.
4. Using cruise control wrongly
Cruise control is a function on a car that allows drivers to eliminate the use of the accelerator pedal in a car. Cruise control automatically drives a car at a constant speed.
The only way to drive without legs
Many people activate cruise control even when they are fully aware that the road has a lot of bends and breakages that would involve constant braking of the car. It is best to use cruise control on roads that are fairly straight, smooth, and long.
I made a short video on how to use the cruise control just for you :
A new motor car from 2016 now has active cruise control that automatically adjusts the cruise speed of the car to keep a safe distance between the car in front while cruising. It is a feature close to the auto-pilot on cars like the Tesla Model S.
Active cruise control keeping distance between cars
>> Ever wondered how future dashboard on cars will look like to make features like auto-pilot work better for drivers?
5. Using parking lights at night
Parking lights are those tiny lights embedded within the headlights and tail lights. Usually yellow in front and red at the rear. They are low wattage lights that automakers put on cars so that it can be left on when you park your car beside public roads at night. That way other road users can see the car from afar with the lights either from the front or the rear.
BMW with parking lights on all night
Yes, you should leave them on when you park because they don't drain your battery even after long hours. It can even be left on overnight and not drain your battery. However, parking lights can be one of the many reasons the battery warning lights can appear on your dashboard.
6. Handbrakes in automatic cars
Handbrakes are placed in cars to make them stationary when parked on sloping surfaces. In manual cars, people often park their cars in neutral gear and engage the handbrakes. However, be noted that manual cars parked with a gear engaged will jump forward when started.
You must press that button to apply the handbrake
Automatic transmission cars are always in the "park" gear when off. In this gear, they will be stationary and there is no need to pull up the handbrakes. Except if it's parked on a hill and you want to engage gears ot stop rolling back, engaging the handbrake would be very non-essential.
Without handbrakes, this car would roll back when it's about to move
Are you not tired of dragging the handbrake every time you park? I thought so too. Cars in production these days have adopted new electronic forms of emergency brakes like buttons and levers. Traditional handbrakes take up useable space in the center console area of the car.
Electronic emergency brake technology on cars
Also, many drivers ignore the warning light of the emergency brakes on the dashboard. It's a red exclamatory sign with "brake". It's one of the many warning lights you should never ignore on your car's dashboard. There are different types of warning lights on different brands such as Toyota dashboard warning lights. Whatever you do be mindful of the three critical warning dashboard lights you must never ignore.
7. Remote control responsiveness
It's an instinct to point your car remote in the direction of your car whenever you want to lock/unlock the doors but this is very ineffective. It is a radio signal and only range matters, not direction. As long as you are in the range where the remote can detect the car, it will unlock/lock the doors.
Pointing remote at the car doesn't matter at all
However, to increase the responsiveness of the remote, you should hold the remote close to your head to amplify the signal it sends to the car. To get the most response from the remote, you can place the remote under your chin and open your mouth. Try it, it works like magic.
Ways to increase the response of your remote. It works!
If you press your car's remote and it doesn't work for the car even when you are close to it, it means the remote is out of battery or the car's battery has run flat.
8. Using Foglights wrongly
Foglights are those smaller lights placed just at the lower part of the front bumper. All of us use it wrongly! It is not a supporting headlight, it is meant for driving when the weather is foggy.
Foggy weather is very bad for driving
Foggy weather is that weather with so little visibility it is difficult to see because everywhere is covered with something like smoke. It is quite uncommon in Nigeria except for early mornings during harmattan season.
Foglights are small but they save lives
The illumination from fog lights isn't scattered like the headlamps so it's the only way for a driver to safely pass through the fog. New cars have a new type of headlight technology that eliminates the use of fog lamps.
The difference in foglights and normal headlights in foggy weather
Some European cars also have rear fog lights aka "floodlights" in red to make sure oncoming cars can see cars in front of them in foggy conditions. This feature is very important for Nigerian cars. A lot of people think it is a mere reflector but it has a switch inside the car.
These lights must be switched on during rain/fog
My final plea
It would be kind of you if you could teach your friends and family about these wrong use of common misused car functions.