How you drive and how well you maintain your
car, van, or light truck can make a difference
in reducing the environmental impacts of
rabbit" starts and aggressive driving.
Flooring the gas pedal not only wastes gas,
it leads to drastically higher pollution
rates. One second of high-powered driving
can produce nearly the same volume of carbon
monoxide emissions as a half hour of normal
Try to anticipate stops and let your vehicle
coast down as much as possible. Avoid the
increased pollution, wasted gas, and wear on
your brakes created by accelerating hard and
speed limit! Driving 75 mph instead of 65
mph will lower your fuel economy by about 10
percent, and can dramatically increase
tailpipe pollution in many vehicles.
When possible, plan your trips to avoid rush
hour. Stop-and-go driving burns gas and
increases emissions of smog-forming
trips. Warmed-up engines and catalysts
generate much less air pollution, so
combining several short trips into one can
make a big difference.
Take a load
off. Carrying around an extra 100 pounds
reduces fuel economy by about 1 percent.
Take a few moments to unload your cargo
vehicle has it, use overdrive gear at
cruising speeds. When driving a manual
transmission, shift up as soon as possible.
Running in a higher gear decreases the rpm
and will decrease fuel use and engine wear.
Try using the
vents and opening windows to cool off before
you turn on the air conditioner. Air
conditioner use increases fuel consumption,
increases NOx emissions in some vehicles,
and involves environmentally damaging
older cars and trucks, modern vehicles don't
need to warm up and they have automatic
chokes, so you don't need to step on the gas
pedal before starting the engine.
Keep your tires properly inflated. Tires should
be inflated to the pressure recommended for your
vehicle; this information is often printed
inside the door frame or in your owner's manual.
For every 3 pounds below recommended pressure,
fuel economy goes down by about 1 percent. Tires
can lose about 1 pound of pressure in a month,
so check the air pressure regularly and always
before going on a long trip or carrying heavy
loads. Under inflated tires can also detract from
handling, safety, and how long the tires will
Buy low-rolling-resistance (LRR) replacement
tires. Switching to a typical set of replacement
tires lowers a vehicle's fuel economy as much as
4 percent. LRR tires, on the other hand, are
specially designed to improve a vehicle's fuel
economy. Most major tire manufacturers now
produce LRR models, so when it comes time to
replace your tires, seek out a set of LRRs.
Check your own fuel economy every few weeks. If
you notice it slipping, that could mean you have
a minor problem with the engine or your brakes.
Using this advance warning, you can fix problems
before you have a breakdown on the road.
Get a tune-up. Whether you do it yourself or go
to a mechanic, a tune-up can increase your fuel
economy. Follow owner's manual guidelines. Be
sure to check for worn spark plugs, dragging
brakes, and low transmission fluid; have your
wheels aligned and tires rotated; and replace
the air filter if needed. Make sure all used
vehicle fluids are recycled or disposed of
Change the oil. In addition to making your car
or truck last longer, replacing the oil and oil
filter regularly will also help fuel economy.
Check your owner's manual for specific
recommendations about how often to change. Ask
the service station if they recycle used oil, or
if you do it yourself, take your old oil to
someplace that does recycle. Ask for recycled
oil as a replacement.
Have your vehicle's emission control system
checked periodically. Take it in for service if
an instrument panel warning light comes on.
Many too often take gasoline for granted,
forgetting that it is quite a hazardous
substance. Gasoline fumes are toxic and
carcinogenic; they cause smog; and spilled
gasoline can pollute the water and poison
wildlife. And it's very flammable, too.
Use regular gasoline unless your owner's manual
says otherwise. Unless your car requires
premium, high-octane fuels improve neither fuel
economy nor performance and will just waste your
Don't overfill the gas tank or try to top it off
beyond where the automatic nozzle clicks off.
Spilled gasoline evaporates to aggravate smog
formation and can leak into groundwater.
Patronize gas stations that have vapor-recovery
nozzles (those black, accordion-looking plastic
devices attached to the nozzle) whenever you
Park in the shade in summer to keep your car
cool and minimize evaporation of fuel.
If you have a garage, use it as much as possible
to keep your car warm in winter and cool in
If you have to park outdoors, windshield shades
can cut down on summer heat and help keep the
frost off in the winter.