Environmentally Friendly Hacks for Your Car

A car key with a green leaf attached.

The U.S. makes up about five percent of the world population, however, people in the U.S. are responsible for 45 percent of the world's auto emissions. There’s a lot you can do to lessen your contribution to that statistic, but none of it involves purchasing a brand new vehicle. A few simple DIY tricks will help you improve the way your vehicle runs, reduce how much you spend on gas, and improve the environment.

Check Your Tires

A person checking tire pressure with a tire gauge.

Checking your tires is a simple step and works surprisingly well to keep your car moving smoothly. Check your tire pressure with a gauge and add air if your wheels are a little low. (You can usually find the correct range for your tire pressure in the owner's manual or on the sticker inside the driver's door.) Underinflated tires force the engine to work hard, which in turn burns more fuel. You'll get more bang for your gas buck when you monitor the pressure in your tires and keep them filled up.

Clean it Out

Everyone tends to accumulate junk in their car, but yours may be reaching a tipping point. The more stuff you've got in your car, the more fuel you're wasting. Heavy objects weigh it down and make the engine work harder, which burns up excess gas. Streamline your cargo, and lose anything that might be dragging down your fuel efficiency.

Take Off the Rack

A close-up of a car rack.

Have a roof rack? Remove it! Chances are you rarely use it anyway, and it's causing your car to burn more fuel. In fact, the roof rack can cause enough drag to waste two extra tanks of gas every year. How much fuel have you already wasted?

Know When to Stop

Topping off the tank always seems like a good idea, but it's actually harmful. That little extra bit of gas increases the chance that you'll release harmful emissions into the air. Topping off your tank fills up the emissions canister that's built into modern cars, so overfilling your tank renders this canister completely useless. Topping off inadvertently causes more harm for the environment.

Conduct Regular Tune-Ups

A mechanic changing car oil.

Regular tune-ups and oil changes will work wonders for your car and keep you eco-friendly. To see a big difference in the amount of gas you use, replace your oil and the air filters in your engine once every six months, and check the spark plugs to see if they need to be replaced. However, when changing the oil remember to dispose of it properly. Don't pour it into the ground or a plumbing system—take it to the proper waste management facilities. You can also switch to a reusable air filter to reduce your car waste.

Use a Drip Pan

When your car is parked at home or in your assigned spot at work, place a drip pan under it to catch any drips or leaks. Simply catching these little fluid leaks will prevent damage to the environment when it runs off into city drainage systems. (It will also save your driveway or garage from unsightly stains at the same time.)

Wash Without Water

You may not think about it, but washing your car the traditional way can be a big waste of water. Look for an earth-friendly waterless car wash product, which can be sprayed onto your vehicle and help clean it without water. It will save you gallons and gallons off your monthly bill (or tons of quarters at the car wash).