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How do I get my wife to stop destroying our car?

Every morning when my wife gets in our 2005 SAAB 9-5 Arc wagon, in one continuous motion she starts the engine, puts it into gear, puts on her seatbelt, and pulls away. Less than 5 seconds elapsed time.

When she puts it into gear, the car is idling at about 1300-1500 rpm resulting in a hard shift. We’ve already had engine mounts replaced under warranty and now we’re out of warranty and I don’t want to do it again.

I’ve tried several times to calmly and politely explain to her that this is causing premature wear and potentially damage to the engine and transmission.

Let’s just say that my wife, while I love her, is a bit, ummm, stubborn.


Do you two own more than one car?

If she works and is going to pay for repairs, your best option is to ignore it. Then when her car breaks down you can say “I told you so.”

If this is your car & you’re going to pay for repairs, I wouldn’t let her drive my car.

@Goldwing, I’m thinking that some variation of that might be the way to go. Problem is that we commute together b/c we work two blocks from each other and drop the kid off at daycare on the way in.

We also have a new Jetta TDi sportwagen. Maybe I propose that the Jetta is now “her” car and she can do whatever she wants with/to it. The SAAB has 78,000 miles on it.

What potential damage is she doing by shifting into D while the car is still idling fast?

If you want to stay married, just live with it. Any real or imagined additional wear is still cheaper than alimony.

It’s harmful to the engine/transmission mounts and the drivetrain components such as halfshafts/CV joints, etc. Maybe that’s why the mounts failed the first time and you’re lucky warranty picked up the slack. Technically speaking, warranty does not (or should not) pay for abusive habits.

She really needs to get in the habit of letting that engine idle for a few seconds at least before shifting into gear and motoring on.

While the odds may not be great there’s also the risk that this multi-tasking could be a bit dangerous. It would not be difficult to inadvertently nail the gas while doing something like this.

As to what to do about this problem that’s a tough call. My wife has a few bad habits that grate on me to no end and after decades of continuing them she’s not liable to change. (Running up on a stop sign on an open deserted highway at 60 MPH and not applying the brakes until she’s a half block away is one of them. Why are the brakes squeaking or whatever she will say.)

Condolences and good luck. :frowning:

Brian - how long does it take the rpms to drop? What do they drop to?

If you wait 30 seconds or so it drops to about 900.

Fresh spark plugs help the idle stabilize faster, which I will install this week. (Service interval on spark plugs is 30,000 miles on this car.)

Well, I’d be pretty impatient if I had to wait 30 seconds every time I start my car. And shifting at 1300 rpm, while not great, is not any different than when cars went to high idle when cold. I’d consider any resulting repairs the cost of married life, and I’d back off the ‘destroying our car’ approach.

If the two of you commute together, and work close together, and she is so abusive to the car and stubborn to you, why is she doing the driving and dropping off? I think I would insist on doing the driving.

Before anyone gets uptight about this advice, I have given the same advice to wives of husbands who abuse their cars.

Anything that causes a jolt to the drivetrain is potentially harmful if done daily. In addition, the engine needs a moment to get its lubrication system full pressurized and stabilized and the tranny takes a moment as well. Allowing these things to take place before loading all the part is, IMHO prudent just as a common sense measure.

I think the “30 seconds” comment might have been misleading. My impression from the original post is that she’s heading down the driveway within a matter of micrseconds after turning the key. If that’s true, I recommend against it.

You can print this thread and show her, however most people don’t listen to unsolicited advice, and you may have to learn to live with this fault if you love her. Perhaps for the next car you can talk her into a manual tranny and all the problems will be solved.

@Whitey - I drive to slow for her; I don’t make the traffic lights.

I don’t think this is a battle that can be won. We’ve been married 8 years and I’d like to make it 50+.

@ mtn bike - I would lose body parts if I showed her this thread.

In that case, you knew the answer before posting and we’re happy to have been here for you to “unload”. Being a good human being is 1000 times for important that being a knowledgable technician.

Sincere best.

I see the problem a bit differently.

I think the answer lies in what will you do to accept it. She’s your wife. Her habits “may” cause some otherwise unneeded repairs over your lifetime, but I suspect not.

You need to decide what’s more important to you - controlling her so her driving habits are like yours (and live with the consequences of that approach), or accept who she is (and reap the dividends).

Have someone ELSE tell her the same thing. A neighbor, a girl friend could tell her to start the car first…THEN stow any stuff, THEN put on the belt.

If that doesn’t do it have your mechanic get technical with her. You know, kind of single her out and say " c’mere we need to talk." With books, charts or any other technical looking ‘‘evidence’’ they’ll appraoch her and state…“girl, dont’ do that, it’s going to break something soon,”

The ‘‘other person saying the same thing’’ is often a tactic to use if someone won’t listen to you yourself.
then it’s not percieved as your nagging.
also, do not gloat with “I told you so”.

( neighbor kid was mowing lawn with a side throw mower starting at the outside perimeter. He was facing the grass exhaust inward onto the grass not yet mowed therefore re-mowing all his clippings AND the the other grass AND compounding it by throwing all of that inward to be mowed over again.
I walked over to him and explained how to reverse hie path and throw the clippings outward so that he’s be mowing only new grass and not choking the mower with re-mowing all that old grass.
– which he promptly did, to his delight saw how well that idea worked.
Then his dad walks over to me and says “y’know, I’ve told him that same damn thing for the las six times he’s mowed the lawn.” )

In that case, you knew the answer before posting and we’re happy to have been here for you to “unload”. Being a good human being is 1000 times for important that being a knowledgable technician.


But don’t give her the Jetta. She’s already been beating the hell out of the Saab. Now that it’s beaten on, why have her start beating on another car. Just let her keep beating on the Saab. Use it as the sacrificial lamb.

As to Ken’s advice, it’s a nice idea, but it won’t work. Presumably your wife is not a moron. As such, she knows that when she does something that makes the car go bang, she’s hurting it. She just doesn’t care. If she doesn’t care about hurting the car, then it doesn’t matter who tells her that she’s hurting the car. She knows that already, and doesn’t want to change. Since she works, she’s contributing to the car repair fund. I suggest you keep it healthy, because you’re gonna need it :wink:

My wife is actually stuck with the opposite habit - she still figures that you have to warm up a car, and I mean even in the summertime. (A little bit of that has to do with her wanting to get the heat or AC moving before she gets in, but that’s not all of it).

She also washes the dishes before she puts them in the dishwasher and always hangs the toilet paper backwards (ok, I admit there’s no “correct” way for that one).

I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve reasoned, I’ve picked on her. She does what she does. We’ve made it a bit over 17 years. Some of that has to do with each learning to ignore some of the others more annoying habits. Some of it ends up costing money. Que sera sera.

Let me get this straight. Your wife abuses the car, even though you ask her not to, and she won’t let you drive because you don’t drive fast or aggressively enough to satisfy her?

I am going to censor myself in an effort to be polite, so I will just say you have larger issues at stake, and they are not automotive in nature. Can you tell I am single?

Regarding the car, let it go. Your wife isn’t going to change her ways, and you might as well learn to live with it.

I am going to go against the grain again, as I usually do, but I don’t think she is hurting anything. I do pretty much the same thing, except that I put on the seat belt before putting it in drive and I have never torn up a vehicle yet.

In my vehicles with manual transmissions, I will often be out of the driveway within 5 seconds of starting, even in winter, the automatics take a few seconds longer.

Remember when one of the brothers asked a caller “Which is more important to you, to be right, or to be happy?”

Good luck with that. Why don’t you just drive? You’re going to the same place anyway and she can just drive the last two blocks when the car is fully warmed up. My wife has the habit of shifting from reverse to drive without braking when backing out of the driveway. She learned it from her dad and I cringed when he did it too. After 40 years I haven’t had much luck in retraining her so good luck.