In some ways, doctors and mechanics do similar work: they keep a system running as best they can, and most people only visit their doctor/mechanic when there's a problem. There are good reasons to go before you have a problem, though, and both mechanics and doctors use the same words to describe this visit: "check ups." The National Automobile Dealers Association launched a new check up service this week that is supposed to make your car not only run smoother but also "save on gas and improve fuel economy." But, unlike most doctor services, this check up is free.

Available at 220 NADA members in 40 states, the "Green Checkup" campaign offers drivers a ten-point checklist of things that can help a car be a little less harsh on the environment. You can probably guess what these ten-points are (yes, tire pressure is one of them), but if you're interested in the complete list, it's available after the jump.

[Source: NADA]

PRESS RELEASE:

"Green Checkup" Campaign Focuses Attention on Vehicle Maintenance


New Web site shows drivers how to save gas and cut greenhouse gas emissions


McLEAN, Va. (Aug. 21, 2008) – High gas prices have just about everyone searching for ways to save on gas and improve fuel economy.


To help motorists save money at the gas pump and-at the same time-cut greenhouse gas emissions through proper vehicle maintenance, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has created a check list of Green Maintenance Tips, which can be found at a new Web site for consumers, www.GreenDrivingUSA.com.

NADA is urging its members to offer free Green Checkups, which focus on the things that have the most effect on fuel economy, such as oil and air filters, engine performance, tire pressure and emission controls.

Dealers in 40 states already have signed up to become Green Checkup dealers, bringing the total number to 220 since the Green Checkup campaign was officially announced at a news conference in Denver on Monday, August 18.


"It's encouraging to see so many NADA members sign up to become Green Checkup dealers at such a fast pace," said Annette Sykora, NADA chairman. "Dealers are responding with enthusiasm," she added.


In her remarks at the news conference, Sykora emphasized that the goal of the Green Checkup campaign is to highlight simple steps that car owners can take to maintain their vehicles in top running condition.


"With high fuel prices and greenhouse gas emissions on the minds of many Americans, the incentive has never been greater for motorists to invest in the kind of maintenance that improves fuel economy," Sykora said.

September is being promoted as Green Checkup Month, but dealers can offer Green Checkups as part of their routine service year-round.

"Dealerships are located in every major community in the country which means we are ideally positioned to be at the forefront of a national consumer awareness campaign," said Sykora, owner of two dealerships in Texas.

This is one example of how dealers are becoming more energy conscious. A trend toward green dealerships is another.

"Dealers around the country have invested close to a billion dollars on facility upgrades and new construction over the past few years to reduce energy consumption at their dealerships," Sykora said.


NADA Partners with EPA to Create "Green Dealerships"


NADA joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Challenge in December 2006, and soon after launched an Energy Stewardship Initiative. Many dealerships are investing in cutting-edge heating and cooling methods and more efficient lighting, as well as wind and solar power. Today, several dealerships are LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Through NADA's Energy Stewardship Initiative in partnership with the EPA, more than 750 dealers (to date) have taken the first step by committing to reduce their energy use by 10 percent or more annually. In 2007, NADA was recognized by EPA as the first trade group representing a national network of retailers to enter into a comprehensive partnership with the ENERGY STAR program.

If all U.S. dealerships reduced their energy consumption by just 10 percent, they would save about $200 million in energy costs and prevent more than one million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

To support the Energy Stewardship Initiative, NADA created a brochure, A Dealer Guide to Energy Star: Putting Energy into Profits, which provides dealers with the tools to create cost-effective, retrofit and new construction projects for energy-efficient lighting, climate control and building design. For more information, visit www.nada.org/energystar.

"With the growing number of green dealerships and the Green Checkup campaign, we are sending a clear signal that when it comes to climate change, America's new car dealers are part of the solution," Sykora said.

Contact your local dealership to find out if a Green Checkup is being offered in your community and schedule an appointment. For more information about NADA's Green Maintenance Tips, visit www.GreenDrivingUSA.com.

USA TODAY and NADA Recognize Dealers for Energy Conservation


Jim Hand, owner of Hand Motors in Manchester Center, Vt., was presented with the USA TODAY Dealer Innovation Award in March 2008. Energy conservation was the theme of this year's award.


He was selected from four finalists as the winner of the national award. Hand Motors expects to save about $30,000 a year in energy costs through its "reduce, recycle and carbon-offset" program. The dealership heats its 11,200 sq. ft. service shop with 100 percent waste motor oil and vegetable oil-at no cost to the dealership. In fact, the dealership saves more than $15,000 a year by not having to buy standard heating oil.

NADA, founded in 1917 and based in McLean, Va., represents about 20,000 new-car and -truck dealers with 43,000 franchises, both domestic and import.

Consumers can save money and energy-and wear and tear on their vehicles-with proper care and maintenance. Here are 10 items that effect fuel economy.

NADA's 10-Point Green Checkup
  • Motor oil. Top off and change oil as necessary with manufacturer-recommended grade, "energy conserving" motor oils. Doing so can improve fuel economy by up to 2 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Replacing conventional oils with synthetics may offer even greater fuel economy benefits.
  • Air filters. Make sure you change your air filter at the end of its recommended lifespan. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve a vehicle's gas mileage by up to 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Engine performance. Enhance fuel economy performance by having engines tuned and spark plugs replaced according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule. A single misfiring spark plug can cut fuel economy by up to 4 percent, according to the EPA.
  • Brakes. Improperly maintained brakes can result in unwanted drag. This unnecessary resistance can have the same effect as driving with a foot on the brake pedal: a dramatic drop in fuel economy.
  • Warning lights for "Service Engine Soon" or "Check Engine." Ignoring these indicators may result in poor fuel economy performance and require expensive repairs. For example, a warning light may indicate a faulty oxygen sensor is sending more fuel to the engine than necessary, which can result in a 40 percent fuel economy decline. A warning light could also indicate a faulty thermostat, which can prevent a cold engine from reaching its normal operating temperature resulting in the unnecessary injection of fuel.
  • Tire wear. Replacing worn tires with a manufacturer-recommended size and style can save hundreds of dollars a year. To improve fuel economy performance, consider low rolling-resistance replacement tires.
  • Tire inflation pressure. Keeping tires inflated to at least the manufacturer-recommended pressure can improve fuel economy by up to 3 percent, according to the EPA. Under-inflated tires require more energy to roll, meaning more fill-ups.
  • Unnecessary items that add weight to the vehicle. Unnecessary weight lowers fuel economy; remove heavy items from your trunk and back seat.
  • Evaporative emission controls. Poorly operating evaporative emission controls can fail to capture gasoline vapors and recycle them to the fuel tank. Faulty controls waste gas and degrade air quality.
  • Transmission. Properly operating modern transmissions and drive components are critical to vehicle fuel economy performance. Routinely check proper fluid levels and system operation.


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