ByLiz Greene

Dec 14, 2017

Eyeing an electric vehicle but can’t quite commit to the price tag? That doesn’t mean you can’t still be as green as possible. Fortunately, even if you can’t get a new, more-efficient ride, there are a handful of things you can do to make whatever vehicle you do have more environmentally friendly.

1. Get Regular Tune-Ups

Maintaining your vehicle does more than keep it running smoothly, it also ensures that it produces fewer emissions. In fact, getting regular tune-ups can result in a 4 percent boost in your gas mileage. Furthermore, repairing serious maintenance problems (such as a faulty oxygen sensor) can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 40 percent. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often you should tune your car.

2. Purchase Eco-Friendly Tires

Did you know there are now eco-friendly tires on the market? These tires are made from environmentally safer materials such as synthetic rubber blends and feature improved rolling resistance to boost gas mileage and reduces emissions. If your tires are still in good condition, ensure they won’t need replacing for a while by keeping them properly inflated. Check your tire pressure once a month and make adjustments as needed. Remember, an under-inflated tire is far less efficient than one that is properly inflated.

3. Use the Car Wash

While it may seem like the greener option to wash your car in your driveway, it’s actually one of the most environmentally unfriendly things you can do. The water that runs off your car — usually loaded with gasoline, oil and exhaust residue — goes straight into storm drains, eventually making its way into rivers, streams and wetlands, where it damages the ecosystem.

However, commercial car washes are required by law to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, where it gets treated before being sent back into our waterways. Additionally, commercial car washes employ both computer-controlled systems and high-pressure nozzles to minimize water usage.

4. Carpool!

One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and make your car more eco-friendly is to share it with others — and give it a break from time to time. Not using your car as often cuts down on wear and tear, requires less maintenance and replacement of tires, and lessens the amount of emissions being released into the air. It’s a win all around! Get together with co-workers to organize a carpool or look into a local ride-sharing service. For more information on carpooling, click here.

5. Avoid Topping Off at the Pump

We’re around gasoline so often that it’s easy to forget how toxic it really is. Gasoline is highly flammable, produces noxious fumes and, when spilled, can seep into our groundwater. You can help avoid harming the environment (or yourself) with gas by refraining from topping off your tank once the automatic nozzle shuts off. It’s important to remember that your tank needs a little extra room to allow the gasoline to expand. Furthermore, topping off can damage your car’s vapor collection system (which is designed to reduce harmful emissions) by forcing liquid into the carbon filter. This can hurt your engine and affect your car’s performance by causing it to run poorly.

6. Invest in Reusable Air Filters

An air filter clogged with dirt, dust and other debris doesn’t allow enough clean air to get to your engine. This creates a “rich” mixture that causes the engine to run less efficiently and can potentially cause long-term damage. You wouldn’t attempt to run a marathon while wearing a rubber Halloween mask, so don’t expect your car to, either.

By replacing a clogged air filter, you can improve your car’s performance and acceleration, not to mention increase your fuel economy by as much as 10 percent! When it is time to switch out your air filter, spend the extra cash to invest in a reusable air filter. This reduces waste and saves you money in the long run.

7. Combine Trips and Lighten the Load

When planning your weekly errands, take a few minutes to review your to-do list and schedule tasks you can handle in the same trip. Then, use your GPS to map the most efficient route to hit all your stops. Not only does this save you precious time, it also reduces carbon emissions and results in less wear and tear on your car.

Speaking of running errands, it’s in your best interest to keep the weight of your vehicle as light as possible. After all, the heavier your car is, the more gas it will use. Reducing the weight of your vehicle by as little as 10 percent can improve your fuel economy by 6 percent or more. So, take a few moments to remove unnecessary items stored inside the car or trunk. You can keep your emergency kit and reusable bags, but everything else should find a new home.

Whether your car is big or small, old or new, there are plenty of ways to make it more eco-friendly. Some are simple (like changing your air filter), while others involve a little more work (like organizing a carpool). Even if you choose to do just one item on this list, you can take comfort in knowing you’re spending the time to protect the environment and put the brakes on your carbon footprint.

By Liz Greene

Liz Greene is an animal-loving, makeup-obsessing pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest makeup misadventures on her blog, Three Broke Bunnies.