You don’t need to buy a new car to make yours more environmentally-friendly.
If you don’t own and can’t afford a brand-new car that’s optimized for minimum environmental impact, that’s fine. Electric cars are expensive, and they’re not for everyone. Fortunately, you can still be environmentally-conscious, and try to reduce your carbon footprint in other ways.
For more on this, and tips and tricks for cars in general, visit The Vehicle Lab.
Tips and Tricks
One of the easiest ways to improve your car’s fuel economy and limit its impact on the environment is to make sure it’s not too heavy. The more a car weighs, the more fuel it uses to travel the same distance as a lighter car. Now, we’re not suggesting that you make your friends or family get out and walk, but even just emptying the trunk of things you don’t need can have a positive effect. Per trip, the difference is pretty small, but it can build up to quite a significant amount if you use your car a lot.
You should also make sure your tires are appropriately inflated, as under-inflated tires just don’t run as well. That means your engine is working way harder just to keep you moving, burning more fuel, and spewing out more emissions. Luckily, it’s an easy fix. Check your suggested tire pressure in the manual, and then use an air compressor (most gas stations have them) to fill your tires to the right pressure. Tires that have been filled properly also last longer, leaving fewer tires in the landfill.
While you should keep your tires filled, overfilling your car is a no-no. Many people top off the tank with a little extra gas after the pump stops, but this actually releases harmful vapors from the tank itself. This is because the emissions canister, designed to prevent vapors from leaking out, can get filled with liquid fuel and become useless. Overfilled tanks can also leak actual fuel, which then evaporates into the atmosphere. Don’t overfill! Also, keep your fuel cap screwed on tight.
Don’t use your air conditioning unless you have to. Having the A/C on stresses your car’s electrical system, which can make the engine surge to compensate and unnecessarily burn fuel. You can use it, but don’t have it blasting on a warm day. Rolling down the windows might be less aerodynamic (and shouldn’t be attempted on the freeway). It can be even more efficient than having the air on. You should also maintain it as best as you can, as a well-looked after AC system works much better than a neglected one.
Keeping your car in tip-top condition is also paramount. Change your oil around every 5000 miles. Over time, it becomes thicker and more viscous, which makes your engine work harder. Fresh oil is a better lubricant and will help your engine’s components move more efficiently. Keep an eye on your spark plugs, too, because if they break or get dirty, they can lead to something called ‘incomplete fuel burn,’ which reduces your car’s efficiency. Check them every 30,000 miles.