Green tips for the eco-friendly motorist

Published on Wed, Nov 4, 2009
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Alternative-fueled and hybrid vehicles are gaining market share but still account for a relatively small percentage of vehicles on the road.

Someday all of us may be driving pollution-free, hydrogen-powered cars. But what’s a concerned consumer to do in the meantime?  

Motorists who want to go ‘green’ don’t have to wait to help the environment. By changing a few habits, motorists can begin helping the environment right away, say the experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).  

ASE recommends regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits as two easy-to-implement strategies. What’s more, better automotive habits will help your vehicle last longer and command a better resale price as well.  
The following tips from ASE can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care:           

Keep the engine running at peak performance ­– a misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual.  

Today’s vehicles have much cleaner tailpipe emissions than they did 30 years ago. But a poorly running engine or faulty exhaust system will make your vehicle to pollute much more than it would otherwise. Don’t ignore that ‘Service Engine’ light.  

Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to reduce the engine’s effort and, thus, gasoline consumption. What’s more, your tires will last longer too, saving you money and easing the burden at recycling centers.  

Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which can be released into the atmosphere through improper service.  

Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations; both habits guzzle gas. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.  

Walk more. Talk about helping yourself and the environment simultaneously!

Remove excess items from the vehicle, since less weight means better mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.  

If you do your own repairs, properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Some repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local government. Remember too that improperly disposed fluids such as anti-freeze can harm pets and wildlife.  

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was founded to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians. Almost 400,000 technicians and parts specialists hold current ASE certifications. They work at all types of facilities, from new car dealerships, to national chains, independent repair shops, fleets, and more. There employers often display the blue and white ASE sign, while the technicians wear shoulder insignia or lapel pins identifying himself or herself as ASE certified. For more information, including seasonal car care tips, visit