When the snow covers your driveway and ice starts to build up on the roads, you may drive more cautiously, but there are some other driving and maintenance habits that can wear out your car faster in cold weather. You can ensure that you reduce your chances of sending your car to the shop if you are more mindful about how you drive when the temperature drops. Here are some common mistakes that people make when driving during winter months.

1. Letting your car warm up.

Nobody enjoys getting into a freezing vehicle, so many people often remote-start their cars or let them idle in the driveway for several minutes before they muster up the courage to get out and drive. However, letting your engine idle does more harm than good. Modern fuel-injection engines do not need the same warm-up time that older engines (pre-1980) needed. 

Letting your car to idle past 30 seconds forces your engine to work in a fuel-rich environment, burning plenty of fuel without any energy output. Overtime, the components will wear out faster and your car will have reduced mileage. Even though a warm car will feel great to you, bundling up and toughing out the first few freezing minutes of the drive will be better for your car and, in the long term, your bank account. 

2. Driving aggressively in snowy, slippery, or slushy conditions.

When the road is covered with snow or ice, you naturally should slow down to prevent accidents. However, you should also slow down, start and stop more gradually, and turn more slowly to protect your car. When you drive too quickly in less-than-ideal weather, you end up breaking more aggressively and frequently than if you were to drive at a safe, steady pace. Relying on your brakes to compensate for poor driving will keep you safe—most of the time—but it will cost you.

Ice, sand, salt, and other grit from the road can get into brake lines and pads. Also, aggressive use of the brakes can cause them to heat up, wearing them down more quickly and melting surrounding frozen debris. The constant braking and exposure to swift changes in temperature can wear down the rotors and pads, as can the added friction of ice and dirt from winter slush. You will need to have your brakes serviced and replaced more often. 

3. Driving on empty.

If you think you're getting more for your money by emptying your gas tank before filling up again, you are wrong. It's never a good idea to consistently drive on empty, even in good weather, but it's even worse in the winter time. In winter, temperatures fluctuate, which can can lead to condensation of the air inside an almost-empty fuel tank. The moisture drips down into the bottom. Water is heavier than gasoline, so it will enter the fuel lines first, causing them to freeze. The expansion of water prevents any fuel from reaching the engine and can damage fuel lines. 

4. Using hot water to remove ice from windows.

Ice storms are common during the winter months, and removing stubborn ice is challenging. However, don't be tempted to throw a pot of hot water over your windshield to melt ice formations. The stark contrast in temperature can cause your windshield to crack so severely that it will need to be replaced. Instead of using hot water, try to use cool or lukewarm water in small amounts to remove ice slowly, or use a scraper to gradually remove the layers. Using your car's defrost function can also help, as it will warm up the windshield gradually.