Motoring Tips for a Better Environment Including Maintenance, Driving and Even Parking Tips

Background
Choosing The Right Vehicle
Lighten Your Load
Reduce Speed and Revs
Plan Ahead
Use the Right Fuel
Avoid the Top Off
Vehicle Maintenance
Carpool
Keep Tires Inflated
Reduce Drag
Easy on The Pedals
Minimise Idling
Be Smart When Being Cool
Smart Parking

Background

The impact on the environment by motor vehicles powered by fossil fuels is well documented and many motorists are looking to reduce their environmental impact. Replacing your current vehicle with a hybrid or even fully electric vehicle is becoming an option but you can make a difference today by simply altering some driving habits. The added advantage is that these changes are also likely to save you money.

Choosing The Right Vehicle

Choosing an environmentally friendly vehicle means more than just buying a hybrid or electric car. In fact buying a new car 'environmentally friendly' car might actually be more harmful to the environment than other options. Building a new vehicle has an environmental impact associated with it. This impact may be greater than simply keeping your existing car for longer, buying a second hand car or simply downsizing your vehicle.

It is also important to choose the correct vehicle to suit your needs. If you only use your car to commute to work alone each day, consider a small car, motorbike or even a bicycle instead of a large SUV. In most large cities, commuting to work is faster by bicycle than by other methods of transportation. You can always hire the larger vehicle if the need for it arises.

Lighten Your Load

The more weight a car carries, the lower its fuel economy will be. On road trips, while it's tempting to pack everything - kitchen sink included - it's smart to leave heavy, unnecessary items behind. And, even for your day-to-day travel, take a few minutes to clean out your car to eliminate extra weight. Pack only what you need (including emergency items) for vacations, and remove unneeded items from your back seat and trunk. These simple steps can cut significant weight, enabling your car to use less fuel.

Reduce Speed and Revs

Reduce your speed and keep the RPMs down. As speed increases, so does drag. So, driving at higher speeds will reduce your fuel economy. In fact, for every 10 miles per hour you reduce speed, you improve your fuel economy by 4 mpg. In addition, avoid putting the pedal to the metal when the stoplight turns green, which increases your vehicle's RPM level and lowers your fuel efficiency. For automatic transmission vehicles, accelerating gently prompts automatic gear shifting at lower engine speeds; with a manual transmission, the general rule is to shift gears between 2,000 and 2,500 RPM. Staying at or a bit below the speed limit and watching your RPMs can have a big impact on the environment and your bank account.

Plan Ahead

Plan routes in advance and combine trips. Whether gearing up for a weeklong vacation or a quick trip to the mall, plan out your route in advance to avoid heavy traffic times and areas. Sometimes, the shortest route can consume more fuel than a longer one, if rush hour or road construction leads to traffic jams and stop-and-go driving. And, warmed-up engines produce lower emissions, so try to combine several short trips into one to save fuel and cut down on pollution. Try to anticipate your errands and plan to knock them all out in one day, if not one stop.

Use the Right Fuel

Most cars don't need premium fuel - although some vehicles do call for higher octane gas to maximize performance and fuel efficiency. Check your owner's manual when choosing what grade of gasoline to use, and don't spend the extra money on a premium grade if you don't need to.

Avoid the Top Off

Drivers often top off their tank beyond the gas pump's automatic cutoff point to get an even total or to squeeze in as much fuel as possible. But that extra squeeze can lead to spills and release gas vapors into the air. This wastes money and pollutes the air, even aggravating smog in bigger cities.

Vehicle Maintenance

Keeping your vehicle well services, maintained and properly tuned will mean it operates at its most efficient. This in turn means it will use less petrol.

Carpool

Why have two or more cars on the road when one can get the job done? Set up a carpool group with several colleagues at work, or coordinate with family and friends to carpool for regular errands such as grocery shopping. Fewer vehicles on the road mean fewer pollutants in the air.

Keep Tires Inflated

Maintaining proper tire inflation levels can improve fuel economy. Tires lose air pressure over time and due to cold temperatures. As that air pressure decreases, rolling resistance increases, making your vehicle less fuel efficient. Your vehicle's owner's manual will show you the proper inflation levels. Inflate your tires to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacturer anddon't forget the spare. Also ensure your wheels are properly aligned.

Reduce Drag

Vehicle manufacturers put a lot of effort into the exterior design of their cars and a lot of their work has to do with fuel economy. Adding things to exterior of your car may cause serious reductions in fuel economy. Roof racks and the things you carry on them can obviously reduce fuel economy, but 'performance' modifications to the bodywork of a car, such as spoilers, may actually cause your car to be slower and burn more petrol. Even driving with the window down can increase drag and boost fuel consumption by more than 20%.

Easy on The Pedals

Even after planning ahead, you may find yourself stuck in a traffic jam. When you do, be smart as you navigate your way through it. Avoid jack-rabbit starts and keep your acceleration moderate and steady, because cars use the most gas when they accelerate. Create space from the car in front of you, and look ahead for any potential slowdowns so you can ease off the gas rather than slam on the brake.

Minimise Idling

Vehicles made from the mid 1980s onwards don't need to be 'warmed up' by idling before being driven. Even many vehicles made before then can be driven immediately but sedately. Idling is simply wasting fuel and polluting. If you are to be stationary for more than a couple of minutes, it is best to switch off your engine and start it again when able to move.

Be Smart When Being Cool

A common mistake drivers make is kicking off the air conditioning and rolling down their windows to save gas, regardless of circumstance. It is true that rolling down the windows in lieu of the AC can increase fuel economy at slower speeds, but at faster highway speeds, open windows can actually increase drag and hurt fuel economy. So, consider the weather - and your speed - before deciding how to stay cool on the go. Also make sure your airconditioner has been serviced and is working properly.

Smart Parking

Even where you park can help the environment. Parking in the shade will keep your car cool and minimise fuel evaporation. Also consider the location of where you park. You could drive around for 10 or 15 minutes looking for a parking spot close to where you need to go, or find an easy park 5 minutes walk from where you need to go. You'll get there faster in the end, use less fuel and get some beneficial exercise.

Source: AZoCleantech and Enterprise

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