By now, almost everyone knows that cars are one of the biggest polluters of the environment and many people are thus taking steps to do their part in protecting the Earth. One popular choice is the hybrid or smart car, but not everyone is in a position to buy a new set of wheels in the near future.
The good news is that even if you can’t afford a hybrid car, you can make your existing car more eco-friendly by taking some small steps. You might even find that these tips save you some cash; maybe you can put the savings toward a fancy new eco-friendly ride?
Drive Carefully. The best way to save fuel is to slow down. Some studies show that American drivers routinely drive well above the speed limit, simultaneously reducing their gas mileage while increasing their chances of getting a speeding ticket.
It’s not just speed that uses fuel, though. Pay attention to how you stop and start your automobile. Do you shoot away from stoplights like you’ve been launched from a cannon? Do you drive aggressively, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, screeching to a stop at the lights? Those behaviors chip away at your fuel mileage (not to mention abuse your car), forcing you to stop at the pump more often.
Instead, try to drive at or under the speed limit and pull away from stoplights slowly, to avoid using more fuel than necessary, altogether conserving resources. Avoid letting your car idle for more than a few seconds, too. Letting your car run for 20 minutes while you do errands or get ready for work only wastes gas and sends emissions straight into the environment.
Get that Tune-Up. Actually, “tune-up” is a bit of a misnomer, since most new cars do not need the tuning that older models required. What we really mean is that you should follow your car’s maintenance schedule as best you can. Not only does regular maintenance (oil changes, etc.) keep your car in good working condition, technicians can identify problems that might be major in the future.
Keeping the car in good condition also helps limit the emissions that come from the exhaust. Many newer cars release few to no toxic emissions, but older models are more damaging to the environment. When everything is in good shape, that can make your older car somewhat eco-friendly.
Need more proof that a well-maintained older car is a good environmental choice? Studies show that almost a quarter of the emissions created by a vehicle in its lifetime are during the manufacture and shipping process. The longer you keep your car running, the fewer earth-damaging emissions that are released into the air.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated. Every car has a recommended air pressure level for tires, but many drivers fail to make sure that their tires are properly filled. Tires that are over or underinflated rob you of up to three percent of your gas mileage – and make it more dangerous to drive. Maintaining the proper pressure also ensures that your tires wear properly, extending their life and keeping them out of landfills.
Consider How You Use Your Car. While not necessarily a change to the physical car, making changes to how you use the car can make a big difference in its earth-friendliness. For example, carpool when possible to reduce the number of cars on the road and travel during off-hours to avoid wasting gas and releasing emissions while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you can, walk or bike for short trips to help both your waistline and the environment. Consolidate your trips to use resources more efficiently and walk rather than drive between stops when you can.
Consider Upgrading Your Car. If you absolutely must get a new car, make sure it’s a smart purchase. Buy only as large a vehicle as you need and pay close attention to the gas mileage. Consider a hybrid model with a high mpg rating, especially if you do a lot of city driving or commute a long distance each day.
Some experts predict that eventually all cars will be eco-friendly, with hybrid engines, alternative fuel engines or other as yet undiscovered advancements. Nowadays the dealer alternative carries auto parts to change your vehicle into a vehicle friendlier for the environment. Until then, do what you can to keep your car eco-friendly, and reap the rewards of a bigger bank account and better condition car.
This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.
Photo by Tony Cassidy