Ways to make your car a little greener

June 19, 2014 12:00 AM

As of 2012, the EPA reported that 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, primarily from burning fossil fuels in cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships. Instead of going cold turkey on using your car, however, you can use some preemptive care methods to reduce its environmental impact. There are ways to tune up your vehicle to ensure that it has the least negative impact on the environment - and as a plus, your wallet. The Car Care Council suggested several maintenance tips that will limit the carbon emissions from your vehicle.

Take preventative measures
One way to make your drive a little more "green" is to regularly check up on your vehicle. A quick car tune up, including checking spark plugs, replacing air filters and changing parts of the ignition and emission system if necessary, could improve the gas mileage of your car anywhere from 4 to 40 percent. Not only will a properly maintained vehicle have reduced emissions, but it will save you money on gas too. Another preventative measure is regularly changing your car's oil. Replacing oil and the oil filter will improve the vehicle's fuel economy and therefore reduce its environmental effect.

Change the way you drive
How you drive can impact the amount of emissions from your car. If you can, try to use cruise control to mediate the pace of your driving. Driving aggressively, either too fast or with an inconsistent pace, will reduce the fuel efficiency of your car. According to the Car Care Council, the majority of cars lose fuel efficiency at speeds over 50 mph?. In fact, every 5 mph over 50 mph is similar to adding $0.24 to the cost of a gallon of gas. Not only does driving fast waste gas, but it also increase the emissions from your car. Try not to brake or accelerate aggressively, either, as they increase pollution and wear down your brakes.

Check your tires
If your car's tires are inflated to the correct pressure recommended by the manufacturer, your gas mileage could be improved by 3.3 percent. According to GreenerCars, tires can lose about 1 pound of pressure a month, so checking your tires' pressure often could benefit you greatly in the long run. GreenerCars also recommended switching to low-rolling-resistance tires, which can lower your fuel economy by as much as 4 percent.

Be careful filling your tank
Always use regular gasoline unless your car manufacturer suggests differently. Contrary to some beliefs, using premium fuels will not increase your fuel economy or performance if your car does not need it. Try not to overfill your tank, as the EPA warns that you need extra space in your tank for the gasoline to expand. When gasoline spills out of the tank, it releases harmful vapors into the air and can even leak into groundwater. Additionally, trying to overfill your tank could ruin the gas station's vapor recovery system, which holds the vapors drawn from the tank after you are finished filling up.

Find other ways to beat the summer heat
Air conditioning increases fuel consumption, could result in greater nitrogen dioxide emission, and uses environmentally damaging liquids to function. Instead, try to park in the shade or roll down your windows to keep your car from getting too hot.

Keeping your car properly maintained will ultimately save you money and reduce your vehicle's impact on the environment. If you implement this combination of regular scheduled maintenance at a local auto repair franchise, along with incorporating  little changes to the way you operate your car, your vehicle could be functioning more efficiently and  eco-friendly in no time. 

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