It doesn’t matter if the car you’re driving is new or old, big or small. There are preventive maintenance steps every vehicle owner can take to make sure their car is as “green” or environmentally friendly as possible, according to the Car Care Council.
A properly maintained vehicle can improve its efficiency, reduce emissions and save you money. Regular engine performance maintenance will help you burn less gas, pollute less, and prevent car trouble down the line. This will include checking the spark plugs, replacing the fuel and air filters, replacing ignition system and/or emission system parts if needed and ensuring the onboard computer control system is working properly.
Maintain Cooling System
A cooling system thermostat that causes the engine to run too cold will lower the fuel efficiency of a car by as much as one or two mpg. There also are improved radiator caps on the market today that allow the cooling system to operate at a higher temperature before boiling over, increasing the system’s efficiency and reducing emissions.
Check your vehicle’s gas cap. A loose, cracked or damaged gas cap allows gas to escape from your tank as a vapor, wasting fuel and increasing vehicle emissions. It’s also wasting your gas money!
When filling up your car, remember to stop when the nozzle shuts off! Topping off the gas tank can release harmful vapors into the environment and waste money. Remember, your tank needs some extra room to allow the gasoline to expand.
Lighten the Load
Get the junk out of the trunk and the stuff out of your car, with the exception of emergency items such as a spare tire and a first-aid kit. Extra items weigh the vehicle down and cause an increase in gas usage.
How you drive has a lot to do with fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Minimize unnecessary miles by combining errands in one trip. Drive wisely and minimize unnecessary miles by consolidating errands, getting good directions and avoiding excessive idling.
Replace Air Filters
An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture that causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter will improve your car’s performance and acceleration, but not miles per gallon. The air filter should be inspected at each oil change, and replaced annually or when restricted, torn, water or oil-soaked.
Check Spark Plugs
A vehicle can have four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as three million times every 1,000 miles. This results in a lot of heat, electrical, and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug also causes misfiring, which wastes fuel.
Proper tire pressure can improve gas mileage by 3.3 percent or 10 cents per gallon.
Tire pressure should be checked at least monthly, including the spare. Tires that are not properly inflated add rolling resistance that makes the engine work harder to move the vehicle. Remember, tires can lose pressure due to seasonal temperature changes. According to the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association, a tire can lose up to half of its inflation pressure and not appear to be flat. Optimal tire pressure for your vehicle is listed in the owner’s manual or on the car door sidewall.