Ready to do your part for the environment this year? Looking for a way to make driving more eco-friendly, yet not in the market to buy a new electric car?
Don’t worry. There are lots of ways to make any car greener. It doesn’t take buying something new, or spending thousands of dollars converting your current car over. Instead, it just takes a little TLC to cut down on your vehicle’s carbon footprint.
According to the EPA, 29 percent of greenhouse gases come from transportation. If we want a healthy future to live and breathe in, it’s important we all do our part to reduce emissions wherever possible. Reducing your car’s emissions makes your car run better, makes it more cost effective to drive, as well as better for the environment. That’s a win/win for everyone.
How do you start?
Start with regular tune-ups
Think of these as check-ups for your car. It’s a simple way to ensure your car is running at its optimal level. When you make sure your car is running correctly, you’ll save more money in the long run by having a car that runs better, and gets the best gas mileage it possibly can.
What does a tune-up entail? It starts with a regular oil change. Check your owner’s manual for guidance; usually every 5,000 miles or so, to ensure your engine is running smoothly. Of course, if your weekly trips are shorter, and it takes you months to hit 5,000 miles, you may choose to change your oil based on the calendar instead of mileage; ask one of our mechanics for suggestions.
Full tune-up inspections should be performed every one to two years, depending on your driving schedule. A complete tune-up includes checking and/or replacing:
- Spark plugs
- Wires, belts, and lines
- Fuel filters
- Air filters
- Ignition system
- Emissions system
- Brake system
- Engine timing
- Computer control system
Check the tires
When was the last time you checked the pressure of your tires? Under-inflated tires won’t connect with the road as efficiently, meaning your car has to work harder for the same functionality. That impacts your car’s fuel efficiency.
Correct tire pressure depends on the make and model of your vehicle. The suggested range is generally included in your owner’s manual, or check for a sticker inside the driver’s door. Most gas stations have an air compressor allowing you to check and fill your tires. Unscrew the cap on your tire, then use the gauge on the filler to ensure you put in the right amount of air.
When your tires are properly filled, you’ll get the full lifespan. That means they won’t wear out early, causing you to replace them sooner. That means less waste in landfills.
Get in the habit of checking your tires at least once per month.
Have the fuel system checked
Your car’s fuel system ensures fuel is distributed optimally for high performance and low emissions. The fuel system contains several components, including the fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel lines, and fuel injectors. If any of these parts are worn or defective, it’s going to result in reduced fuel efficiency.
On average, the fuel filter should be changed and fuel injectors flushed every 30,000 miles or so. By having this regularly checked, it will ensure your fuel system is in good working condition, and your car is greener and saves you money every time you fill up.
Of course, if you smell fuel in or near your car at any time, have the fuel system checked immediately. It could be a line or seal that is leaking, allowing fuel to drip from your car.
Fill your car up the right way
Your vehicle is designed with a fuel tank that will stop filling up and shut off the nozzle automatically. Yet many car owners “top off” the tank by squeezing a little bit more into the tank. This does two things:
First, it can allow harmful gas vapors to be released into the atmosphere. Today’s cars are built with an emissions canister that prevents vapors from being released. But when you “top off” the tank, you risk pushing liquid fuel into this canister, reducing the effectiveness. If you continually force fuel into this canister, it can eventually render it useless.
Second, it increases the likelihood of spilling gas. Spilled fuel is flammable, creating a dangerous environment. It also releases toxic vapors back into the atmosphere. It enough fuel is spilled, it can also leak into the groundwater.
Remove excess weight
In simplest terms, the more your car weighs, the more fuel it uses. That’s not saying you should strip down your current vehicle to take away more weight. Instead, it should be a goal to keep your car as clean as possible.
Take a look in your back seat and the trunk; how much stuff do you have stored? How often do you use it? Find a place in your garage you can store the “extras” and only take what’s absolutely necessary for the trip you’re planning. This gives you better gas mileage, and a greener driving experience.
When was the last time you thought about how well you drive? For most of us, we simply get behind the wheel and drive. But there are many things you can do to make your car operate better and increase fuel economy.
If you’re an aggressive driver, find ways to back off. Some of it involves timing; leave a few minutes earlier, and you’ll have more time to get where you’re going. Also, avoid sudden acceleration, braking, and other aggressive behavior. This produces less wear and tear on the major systems and parts of your vehicle, as well as puts your car at less risk of being in an accident.
If you drive on the highway a lot, try to use your vehicle’s cruise control whenever possible. This allows your car to keep a steady pace without the need to slow down and speed up.
Avoid excessive idling. While this isn’t always possible if you drive in rush hour traffic each day, you can do things like control how much you drive, or consolidate errands so you’re not using your vehicle as much during the day. If you’re waiting for someone to run into a store, or picking up kids from school, turn your vehicle off instead of allowing it to run. You’re just sitting there and allowing fuel to burn up.
And if you notice a problem with your car, get it checked right away. The most eco-friendly cars are the ones that operate at peak performance. You can make your car greener simply by caring for your car, and working with one of our mechanics to keep it in good working condition throughout the year.