5 Seemingly Harmless Things that Can Damage Your Car

5 things that can harm your car

When the Benz Patent Motor Car was first built by Carl Benz in 1886, it was a fairly simple machine. This patented “vehicle powered by a gas engine” had three wheels and a single-cylinder engine. But that was more than 135 years ago, and modern cars have grown in complexity beyond comprehension.

An average car these days has a whopping 30,000 individual parts. They are such intricate machines, and we still take them for granted. Many things can go wrong with a modern car, and seemingly harmless issues can ruin your car to the point that one day it just won’t start, or worse yet, be dangerous to drive.

This article is about the seemingly harmless things that you might think are not that much of an issue but can seriously damage your car with repair bills amounting to thousands of dollars.

Let’s have a look at the top 5 of them so that you can nip the evil in the bud.

5 Seemingly Harmless Things that Can Damage Your Car

1. Skipping Oil Changes

Saying that the engine oil is the lifeblood of any car engine won’t be an overstatement. Changing the oil every 5000 or so miles is one of the most basic things when it comes to car maintenance. There’s a common misconception out there that skipping a couple of oil changes won’t harm your car; well, that is partially true.

Say you change the engine oil at 10,000 instead of 5,000 miles; it will not have an immediate bad effect on the car. That might lead you to think that it is the correct practice.

What actually happens is that the adverse effects of delayed oil changes keep adding up over time, and one day the engine will give in, and that day will come way sooner than the expected life of the engine.

To avoid having a burnt motor in your car and spending thousands of dollars fixing it, get the oil changed at regular intervals and the correct oil type.

2. Ignoring Chipped Paint

For most people, car paint is purely cosmetic, and the only purpose it serves is to make the car look good. That’s not entirely true. Your car is painted to prevent it from rusting. If you ignore chipped paint on your car, the consequences can be expensive.

Chipped paint exposes the bare metal surface of the car’s sheet metal to the elements of the environment. This leads to rusting, and if left unchecked, rust can rapidly eat the sheet metal away. What’s even more concerning is that modern cars have a unibody construction. Every part is a structural part, and rusting compromises the car’s structural rigidity.

Fortunately, fixing the paint chips is easier than you think. All you need to do is have a few hours to spare and some inexpensive materials that you can pick up from the local auto store and fix the chipped paint before it causes any damage to the car.

3. Using Non-OEM Parts and Accessories

Next up on the list of seemingly harmless things that can ruin your car is the use of non-OEM parts and accessories. Whether you are adding stuff for performance enhancement or part of routine maintenance, always go with the parts recommended by the manufacturer.

This is particularly an issue when you get the car maintained or repaired outside the official dealership. There’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks by getting the car maintained by a more economical mechanic, but anything that goes into the car, from engine oil to headlamp bulbs, needs to be strictly the stuff recommended by the manufacturer, preferably OEM.

Using non-recommended parts can damage the car, and in many cases, also make it dangerous. For example, there are a lot of cases of cars catching on fire due to using wiring components not rated for the car.

4. Always Parking in the Sun

We all have to park in the sun quite often, and everyone hates it when the car becomes an oven after being in the sun for 20 minutes. It is not harmful for a car to be parked in the sun for a couple of hours, but if you always do that, it will cause problems.

One of the most evident damages that the sun does to a car is faded paint. The UV rays in the sunlight oxidize the paint, causing it to lose its shine. Other damage includes premature wear out of the tires, door jam seals, and wiper blades.

If you live in an area that gets really hot summers, the inside of a car parked in direct sunlight for a long time can get hot enough to warp or crack the plastic and leather trim pieces in the interior.

If you do not have a garage to park your car, a good car cover can prevent much of the damage sunlight can do to a car. Investing $50 in a cover can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the line.

5. Leaving Your Pet in the Car

As a general principle, you should never leave your pet unattended in your car for any period of time. It can get too hot, and they can suffocate or dehydrate. From the damage point of view, pets can scratch or tear the upholstery, and getting a set of leather seats repaired is a costly proposition.


Taking your car for granted and assuming something is “not that bad for the car” can result in serious damage to the car or even be dangerous for you. The top 5 seemingly harmless things that can damage a car include: not changing the engine oil at regular intervals, ignoring chipped paint, using parts not recommended by the manufacturer, parking in the sun for extended periods, and leaving your pet unattended in the car.