According to officials with the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), motorists can help the environment and their own finances by altering a few habits. “Regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits are two simple ways any car owner can go-green,” notes Martin Lawson, ASE’s editorial director.
Here are a few specific, easy-to-implement tips from ASE:
•Keep the engine running at its peak performance—a misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual. A well-tuned engine pollutes less and uses less. Moreover, neglected engine performance problems can cause costly repairs over time •If you do your own repairs, be a good steward. Dispose of engine fluids and batteries properly. A single quart of used motor oil can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Anti-freeze poured on the ground can poison wildlife and household pets. Check around at local repair facilities to see if they accept used fluids and parts, or call your local government for information on proper disposal. •Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. If your air pressure is low, you force the engine to work harder, and burn more gasoline. Tires that are misaligned also make your vehicle work harder. Consider, too, that poorly maintained tires wear out faster, which means more discards have to be scraped, recycled, or sent to the landfill. •If weekend car tinkering is not your idea of fun, find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. •Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician qualified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service. •Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both habits guzzle gas and put extra wear and tear on your vehicle’s engine, transmission, steering and suspension system, and other components. Use cruise control and anticipate traffic patterns ahead. As a side benefit, your brakes will last longer. •Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. •Remove excess items from the vehicle since less weight means better mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.
While there is no single vehicle that’s ideal for every lifestyle, regular car care and gentler driving lets your maximize gas mileage for your particular make and model—saving you money and helping the environment.