You don’t have to invest in a hybrid or electric car to make your vehicle greener. Certain driving habits, proper vehicle maintenance and a few small changes or accessories can go a long way to improving a car’s efficiency and reducing its overall carbon footprint. The best news of all is that these green car tips are likely to save you money in the long run by reducing your need for fuel or expensive repairs.
About 75 percent of a vehicle’s carbon emissions are due to the fuel they burn. There are many ways to reduce a car’s fuel consumption. Two of the easiest ways that require little more than a change in habits is speed and car weight.
Reducing speed is one of the best ways to improve fuel economy. This is because of some simple physics known as liquid thermodynamics. Basically, as a car moves through the air, it is compressing that air just a little bit. This creates drag that tries to slow the car down. The faster a car is going, the more it compresses the air and the more power it needs to get through that air. No matter how aerodynamic the vehicle is, this air compression increases remarkably at about 60 miles per hour. Those speed limit signs aren’t just a matter of safety. Following them will improved your MPG.
Consistent speed is also important for mpg. Gasoline engines are extremely inefficient when they are accelerating and work best when they run at a continuous speed. This is one reason that freeway driving tends to result in higher mpg than town driving. Every time you hit the brakes, you are wasting some of the car’s energy. By driving moderately, and avoiding a lot of starting and stopping or fast acceleration, you can improve fuel economy by quite a bit. Safe driving also happens to be better and more efficient driving.
Your car’s weight has a major impact on how much fuel it consumes. Every 100 pounds of weight tends to reduce fuel efficiency by about 2 percent. Stripping off extra racks and cargo containers and emptying out the trunk of unnecessary stuff may have a surprising effect on fuel efficiency. The impact of weight is more noticeable the smaller the engine.
Be Mindful of Your Tires
The next biggest factor in fuel efficiency is the amount of friction created by your tires. Friction creates drag that requires more energy to overcome. Unless you need heavy-duty tire tread for off-road or harsh weather conditions, it is most beneficial to equip tires with low-resistance tread. This may mean switching your tires seasonally. Equip low-resistance tires in the summer and switch to heavier tread in the winter only when you need it.
Tire inflation is also a critical factor. As a tire loses pressure, more of the tire is pressed against the roadway, and it creates more drag and friction to overcome. Underinflated tires have other problems as well. The tire is going to wear more quickly and require replacement. If the tire becomes severely underinflated, it is a road hazard that may cause a dangerous blowout or loss of vehicle control.
For many people, car maintenance is like a pass or fail test. If something breaks completely and the car won’t run or the check engine light comes on, then it’s time to take it in for service. Unfortunately, the truth is that most cars don’t break down completely unless something serious or catastrophic happens. Instead, the car’s systems slowly wear down and become less and less efficient before finally breaking.
Proper maintenance and tune-ups ensure that a car continues to run in its most efficient state. Problems with the fuel and exhaust system or coolant system may not immediately cause a breakdown or even a check engine light, but they are still causing problems.
You can help ensure that your engine continues to run efficiently by using fuel additives that clean the engine as it runs. States and companies vary on their laws regarding fuel additives. California tends to regulate more additives, but most states have little to no regulation on additives.
Be Smart with Oil
Used engine oil is a huge factor in the environmental friendliness of your car. The first step is to only get an oil change when you actually need it. Most synthetic oils are designed to run at least 10,000 miles or 6 months, and the highest qualities may last even longer. Mechanic stickers suggesting oil changes every 4,000 miles or less or just trying to keep their income, wasting oil and your money. The only exception is with non-synthetic oils that have much shorter lives and should probably be avoided anyway.
When you do change your oil, be sure that it is recycled properly. Most municipalities offer free oil recycling with garbage collection, but the oil must be disposed of properly. It should not be included in regular garbage and it should never, ever be put down the drain or just spilled onto the street. In most areas, improper disposal is illegal and has steep fines.
Visit car dealerships in St George for more information on your specific car and how it can be made friendlier to the environment. By changing some of your basic habits and keeping your vehicle well-maintained, you can increase your fuel efficiency and reduce your car’s carbon footprint. You even stand to save quite a bit of money in the process.