You’re driving down the road. It suddenly makes an unfamiliar noise. It smells funny. Or maybe it leaks – the evidence is all over the driveway.
You know it needs maintenance work. But is your car bad for the environment?
We’re all doing our part these days to be less wasteful, go green, and develop sustainable habits. But what about your car?
When we buy a new car today, we’re keeping them longer than ever. Studies show the average car is kept for 12.2 years.
Keeping them longer comes with its own risk/reward. You know the car inside and out. You know right where the problem areas are.
Problems can quickly escalate and turn into environmental concerns. That’s where it starts impacting emissions and what you’re releasing back into the environment. That’s where you can begin to do the work now.
An effective car is well-kept and well-managed. It operates as well as possible, and remains efficient throughout its life.
Can your vehicle do all that? We have some suggestions for you.
What are vehicle exhaust emissions?
Very few would argue that cars are a big concern when it comes to cleaning up the environment. With more than 286 million cars in operation across the US, it’s an area we can strive to do better with.
Vehicle exhaust emissions refer to the gasses and particles released into the air when cars burn fuel. The combustion process in a car engine produces several types of pollutants that are harmful to both the environment and human health.
What gasses and pollutants do vehicles produce?
Cars emit a variety of gasses and pollutants, including carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM).
CO is a colorless and odorless gas formed when fuel is not burned completely. It can lead to various health issues, including reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and cardiovascular problems.
NOx is produced when the nitrogen in the air reacts with oxygen at high temperatures in the car engine. These pollutants contribute to the formation of smog, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer. They also contribute to respiratory problems and are a major component of air pollution in urban areas.
VOCs are released from the evaporation of fuel and other chemicals used in cars. They are a key contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, which can cause respiratory problems, eye irritation, and other health issues.
PM consists of tiny particles released into the air, including soot, dust, and other fine particles. These particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and are associated with respiratory problems, cardiovascular issues, and even premature death.
What emissions do to the environment?
Vehicle emissions have a significant impact on the environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted by cars. These emissions contribute to global warming and climate change, leading to rising temperatures, melting ice caps, and disrupted weather patterns.
Additionally, NOx and VOCs react with sunlight to form ground-level ozone, a major component of smog. Smog not only causes poor visibility but also damages vegetation, harms ecosystems, and reduces crop yields.
PM emissions contribute to air pollution and can have detrimental effects on air quality. PM can settle on surfaces, leading to the discoloration of buildings and monuments. It can also contaminate water bodies and soil, causing harm to aquatic life and ecosystems.
What emissions do to our health?
Pollutants emitted by vehicles have serious health implications. Exposure to vehicle emissions, especially in densely populated urban areas with heavy traffic, can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and allergies.
PM and NOx are particularly harmful to human health. PM can irritate the respiratory system, cause lung inflammation, and worsen existing respiratory conditions. NOx can contribute to the development of respiratory diseases and react with other pollutants to form toxic compounds.
Children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of vehicle emissions. Prolonged exposure to these pollutants can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and premature death.
What maintenance items should I do to minimize emissions?
If you read the news, you know many are putting money down on the idea that electric or hybrid vehicles will be a part of the solution. While the jury is still out on that, there are several maintenance practices that can help minimize emissions from your car:
Regular engine maintenance – Keep your engine properly tuned and follow the recommended service schedule. This includes regular oil changes, air filter replacements, and spark plug inspections. A well-maintained engine burns fuel more efficiently, reducing emissions.
Check and inflate tires – Underinflated tires increase fuel consumption and emissions. Regularly check your tire pressure and ensure they are inflated to the recommended levels.
Use the right fuel and lubricants – Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for fuel and lubricants. Using the right products can help optimize engine performance and reduce emissions.
Minimize idling – Avoid unnecessary idling as it wastes fuel and emits pollutants. If you anticipate being stationary for more than a minute, consider turning off the engine.
Carpool or use alternative transportation – Whenever possible, carpooling or using public transport can significantly reduce the number of vehicles on the road, thereby decreasing overall emissions.
Is your car bad for the environment?
While we all know our vehicles are doing their share of releasing pollutants into the environment, we can still make them as clean as possible.
It all starts with regular maintenance. A well maintained car runs efficiently and is less likely to cause problems while out on the road.
Do you have a regular maintenance schedule? If not, we’re here to help.
Give us a call today.