When you think of green driving, you probably think of hybrids, biodiesel or electric cars, but you can help the environment no matter what car you drive.
You can easily maximizing the fuel efficiency of your car, reducing your contribution to global warming. Here are 10 tips for how you can drive a regular car in a more environmentally friendly way:
1. Choose low-octane gasoline. Unless your owner’s manual specifically recommends high-octane gas, 87 or 89 octane gas will not only be better for your car, it will be better for the environment. High-octane gas is slow burning, which is necessary in high-performance cars. If used in regular cars, unburned gas can get in the emissions system and cause a sulfur-like discharge.
2. Make maintenance a priority. Regular servicing is required to keep an engine operating efficiently and making the most of its fuel. Be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. Don’t overlook the air filter. You car’s air filter prevents impurities from getting into the engine, which can limit fuel efficiency.
3. Check your tires. Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Under-inflated tires have more contact with the road and encounter more friction. This makes your engine work harder and use more fuel. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you can improve your fuel efficiency by 3% just by properly inflating your tires.
4. Keep it smooth. Fast acceleration and braking burns more gas because the engine has to overcome inertia. Focus on gradual changes in speed and driving with care to save gas. Coasting to a stop is more fuel-efficient than slamming on the brakes, for example.
5. Slow it down. What’s the rush? The faster you drive, the more gas you burn. According to the EPA, you can improve your fuel efficiency by 15% by lowering your speed from 65 mph to 55 mph.
6. Know where you’re going. Take the shortest route to your destination to cut down on driving time. If your car has navigation, use it. Alternatively, you can use Mapquest or Google Maps to plot the shortest route.
7. Avoid idling. Sitting in your car with your engine on just wastes gas. If you have to wait in your car, turn the engine off. If possible, avoid driving during peak commuting times when you’ll end up idling in traffic.
8. Roll the windows down. Using air conditioning uses fuel. When it’s not scorching hot outside, enjoy the breeze from the windows instead. But if you're driving at highway speeds, roll 'em up: The drag from open windows is worse than running the air conditioner.
9. Don’t be a pack rat. Carrying a lot of stuff in your car weighs it down and makes the engine work harder. Clean out the truck of any junk you have accumulated. While you’re at it, remove a ski or bike rack you’re not using. These add wind resistance, which can also hurt fuel efficiency.
10. Use overdrive. If your car has an overdrive device, this can save fuel at high speeds. When you shift into overdrive, there is less wear on the engine. Check the owner’s manual for the proper speed to switch on overdrive.
Taken individually, these tips will improve your fuel efficiency, and they can make a big difference as a whole.
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