Car Maintenance Helps the Environment

According to officials with the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), motorists can help the environment and their own finances by altering a few habits. So instead of waiting for hybrid vehicles, you can make a difference now.

ASE recommends regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits as two simple courses of action. Here are a few specific, easy-to-implement tips from ASE:

  • Keep the engine running at its peak performance -- a misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual. A well-tuned engine pollutes less and uses less. Moreover, neglected engine performance problems can cause costly repairs over time.
  • If you do your own repairs, be a good steward. Dispose of engine fluids and batteries properly. A single quart of used motor oil can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Anti-freeze poured on the ground can poison wildlife and household pets. Check around at local repair facilities to see if they accept used fluids and parts, or call your local government for information on proper disposal.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. If your air pressure is just a few pounds low, you force the engine to work harder, and burn more gasoline. Tires that are misaligned also make your vehicle work harder. Consider too that poorly maintained tires wear out faster, and that means more discards have to be scraped, recycled or sent to the landfill.
  • If weekend car tinkering is not your idea of fun, find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair facility with your local consumer group. Check out the technicians' credentials. ASE-certified auto technicians have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning. And shops that employ these certified pros often display the blue and white ASE sign on the premises and post their technicians' credentials in the customer waiting area.
  • 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 could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
  • Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both habits guzzle gas and put extra wear and tear on your vehicle's engine, transmission, steering and suspension system, and other components. Use cruise control and anticipate traffic patterns ahead. As a side benefit, your brakes will last longer.
  • Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle since less weight means better mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.

While there is no single vehicle that's ideal for every lifestyle, good car care allows you to maximize gas mileage for your particular make and model, and thus saves you money and helps the environment.

For a free brochure with earth-friendly automotive tips, send a self-addressed, stamped long envelope to: ASE Environment Brochure, Dept. ARA-031, 101 Blue Seal Dr., S.E., Suite 101, Leesburg, VA 20175, or visit for more information.

Courtesy of ARA Content