Did you know that one of the best things you can do for the environment is to practice good car maintenance? Instead of saving up for a hybrid vehicle, you can help planet earth right now by taking care of the car you already own.
Good Car Maintenance Habits that Help the Environment
When your engine runs at peak efficiency, it reduces pollution. Change your oil regularly. Check air filters. And pay attention to that check engine light! You may need a tune up or your spark plugs may need to be changed out. Check your owner’s manual for what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it.
Oil and Battery Disposal Habits
If you like to do your own car maintenance, make sure you have a plan for that used oil and dead battery. Some service stations and many auto parts stores will accept used motor oil. As for the battery, you can leave the old one behind where you purchase the new one. You’ll also want to be careful of spills. Even just a little bit of oil or antifreeze can cause major problems for the environment. They can pollute water sources and poison wildlife and pets. If you are not sure where to drop off your used vehicle fluids and batteries, you can call your local municipality to find out.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications. Low tires require more energy to move and maintain speed which causes your engine to work harder—and you burn more fuel. One study found that inflating tires to the correct pressure could improve gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Over or under inflated tires can also shorten their life expectancy which means you’ll have to replace them sooner. It works the same for tires that are not aligned properly. Keeping your tires inflated and aligned can help you prevent damage to your car and the environment.
The better you maintain your brakes, the longer you’ll be able to keep your car. That means less scrap metal in landfills. But when brakes wear, they can also emit pollutants into the air. In a worst-case scenario, they can smoke and catch fire.
Car Air Conditioners
There are some parts of your vehicle that should be left to the professionals. Your air conditioning is one of them. Air conditioners use hydrofluorocarbons that are hazardous to the environment. It is important to ensure that those harmful chemicals don’t leak out into the atmosphere. Your car’s AC also emits heat into the air which adds to global warming. And it causes your car to use more energy. Only use your car air conditioner when you absolutely need to.
How Driving Patterns Affect the Environment
In addition to proper car maintenance, being wise with how and when you use your vehicle is another way that you can help protect the environment. This includes:
- Plan automobile trips efficiently. Instead of taking lots of short trips, combine all your errands together, going to the farthest point out and working your way back.
- Reduce idling. It wastes fuel and leads to higher pollution levels.
- Stay within the speed limit. The faster you drive, the more fuel you consume and pollution you cause. Sudden stops and starts, and aggressive acceleration also burn more fuel.
- Lighten up. The less weight your car carries, the less fuel it will consume. If you have any extra items piling up in your backseat or trunk, pack them away at home before you head out.
If you want to help the environment, follow this car maintenance advice. And if you have a knack for car maintenance, maybe it’s time to pursue a career as an auto mechanic. You could complete the Automotive Technology program at Porter and Chester Institute in as little as few as 12 months. Fill out the form on this page to learn more now.