Driving a car is the most convenient ways to get around in today's world. The auto represents instant on-demand mobility, and with this comes a great deal of personal freedom. The drawback is that traditional cars, which represent the vast majority of personal vehicles on the road, use internal combustion engines. These engines burn gasoline, and this fills the air with pollution that causes global warming as well as unhealthy levels of smog. In order to reduce the production of these dangerous chemicals, drivers will need to take a more ecologically friendly approach to personal transportation. The key to fighting pollution from vehicles is to cut down on the amount of gasoline that a car uses per mile.
One way to cut down on air pollution from vehicles is to fight it at its source, which is the vehicle itself. This is the most expensive approach to a more eco-friendly commute, but it is also the most fundamentally effective. It involves buying a car that uses less gasoline or none at all. Options include switching to a car with higher mileage so that the same commute burns less gasoline and thus produces less pollution. Examples include gasoline-electric hybrid cars or vehicles that can run on biodiesel. Another more extreme option is to get a car that doesn't use gasoline at all, such as an all-electric car.
Riding with several people in a single vehicle reduces the number of cars on the road and the amount of gasoline that is being burned in general. This is called ride-sharing or carpooling, and it cuts gasoline use by one car per additional person per trip. Another way to use less gasoline overall is to combine trips when out on errands. Visiting several destinations on a person's daily itinerary without making a return trip home burns less fuel due to the fact that driving back home adds more mileage to the trip. Also, returning home and then heading out again when the engine has cooled back down uses up to twice as much fuel as a single multi-destination trip where the engine is not left to cool down.
When a car engine is running but the car is not moving, this is called idling. In this state, the car is still burning gasoline, so its fuel efficiency is zero. Sometimes this cannot be helped, like when a car is idling at a red light. However, warming up a vehicle is usually not necessary for modern cars, and drive-throughs are also another contributor to idling. It is also more gasoline-efficient to pull into a parking spot and turn off the car than to idle at the curb waiting to pick up a passenger.
High speeds and aggressive habits on the road reduce a car's fuel efficiency. Aggressive driving behaviors such as jumping a green light can result in burning as much as a third more gasoline on the freeway. Driving over 65 miles per hour reduces a car's gasoline efficiency due to aerodynamic drag. One good way to burn less gasoline on a long trip is to switch to cruise control. This allows the car to maintain a proper speed and cuts down on engine revving, which uses more gasoline per mile.
Removing Unnecessary Weight
Extra weight in a car forces it to burn more gasoline to go the same distance as a car with less weight. To increase a car's fuel efficiency and reduce its pollution footprint, remove objects from the seats or trunk that aren't necessary. If heavy things must be carried, don't carry them in the trunk if possible. This is because extra weight in the trunk can push up the front of the car, resulting in aerodynamic drag and lower gas mileage.
Maintaining a Healthy Car
Regular auto maintenance is another way to reduce a car's carbon footprint. A dirty air filter reduces an engine's output, causing the car to get less mileage per gallon of fuel. Dirty or old spark plugs can waste fuel as a result of misfiring. Keep tires inflated properly to reduce rolling resistance, which forces the engine to work harder and reduces fuel efficiency.
Saying No to the Extras
Some of a car's functions are convenient but also increase the amount of pollution a car produces. For instance, the air conditioning system requires more gasoline in order to keep it running. Whenever possible, avoid running it in favor of rolling down the windows. However, when driving over 50 miles per hour, rolling down the windows creates drag on the car, which reduces its gasoline efficiency. In this case, the air conditioning is less wasteful. On days with high temperatures, it may also be unsafe to drive without air conditioning.
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Eco-Friendly Auto Tips and was authored by Maddy Martin.