With concerns for the environment and our wallets, greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs respectively, so-called “green cars” are gaining more recognition. Every year, more and more cars become available that are pushing the limits of fuel economy, which directly relates to emissions and fuel costs. Some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles out there are pushing 50 mpg (miles per gallon), which doesn’t include alternative-fuel vehicles, such as plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles, which are pushing 100 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent)!
Now, you could buy a new green car, and that would definitely be the best way to reduce your refueling costs and your personal carbon footprint (without resorting to feet). Still, not everyone is in a position to buy one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do the best you can with what you have. No, you can’t turn your old junker into a 125-mpge commuter, but you can make sure you’re getting the best fuel economy you can with the car you already drive.
Here are a few tips to make sure your car is as green as it can be:
- Tuning – Make sure your car is running properly. A check engine light, cylinder misfire, dragging brakes, or slipping transmission can all increase fuel consumption and emissions, as much as doubling your carbon footprint and refueling costs. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs will keep your car running well and for a long time.
- Loading – It only makes sense that, the more stuff you’re carrying around, the more fuel you’ll burn getting around. Get rid of everything that you don’t need, such as last season’s camping gear and that traction sand from winter. Also, unless you’re using it, remove the roof rack, because it’s messing with your aerodynamics, increasing drag, and costing you.
- Speed – The legal speed limit may be 65 mph, and the flow of traffic might be 75 mph, but both of those are very wrong for your fuel economy. The sweet spot is usually around 55 mph, which might seem pokey, but is saving you big bucks at the pump!
- Tires – For best fuel economy, keep your tire pressures set according to the tag on your door jamb or the owner’s manual. You could go up a few psi, but you’d also wear out your tires faster, which means you’ll replace tires more often, which is both expensive and emissions-intensive. Measure tires “cold,” that is, at ambient temperature and not having been driven at least three hours. Consider LRR tires (low rolling-resistance) to further improve fuel economy.
- Riding – Short trips and riding solo are a sure way to waste fuel. Combine a number of short errands into one list of errands on one day, which keeps your engine at operating temperature and peak efficiency. Consider carpooling to save even more on your daily commute.
These tips will go a long way to keeping your car on a road a long time and spend less fuel while you’re at it. On the other hand, when it comes time to trade in, you don’t have to get a 2017 hybrid model to improve fuel economy and make for a greener car. If you’re driving an ’89 now, why not consider a ’99 or an ’09? You’ll be trading up, not only in technology an comfort, but also in fuel economy. No matter what you drive, however, make sure you keep it maintained and drive it well, and you’ll have the greenest car on the block.