Owning a hybrid or electric car means being a conscious steward of the environment, but that doesn't mean these energy-efficient vehicles are for everyone. As a college student or University staff member, splurging on a Toyota Prius or Tesla Model S may not be in the cards right now. Or maybe you have concerns about how difficult it would be to charge a battery-operated car or know the range and power of a hybrid vehicle.
No worries, eco-friendly road warriors! As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to reduce your car’s carbon wheelprint, regardless of its age and model type. Check out the following five ways to green up your car:
1. Keep a Close Eye on Your Tires
Making sure your tires are healthy and happy is one of the easiest ways to make your vehicle more eco-friendly. As you may have already experienced, driving on underinflated tires doesn't provide the best traction or driving experience. That means, if your tires are on the squishy side, your engine is using more gas to keep them moving.
If that's ever the case, check the inside of your driver’s door for a sticker that lists the suggested pressure range for your tires, and invest in a tire pressure gauge to regularly check all four tires. When it's time to replace those tires, skip the bargain brands and spring for name-brand tires from a company like TireBuyer. While you might be tempted by lower prices, the reality is that cheap tires don't last long, which means you'll be sending tires to the landfill sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, TireBuyer features tires manufactured by Goodyear, Firestone, Bridgestone and other brands that are built for long tread life; for example, the Ecopia EP422 Plus tires by Bridgestone are fuel-efficient and durable tires that are engineered to give you up to 20 miles extra per tank of gas.
2. Lighten Your Load
As Popular Mechanics magazine notes, a heavy car will use more gas. If you store your golf clubs, guitar amps, ski equipment and other heavy items in your vehicle, it will require you to spend more money on gas to keep the engine running.
With that in mind, leave what you can at home, and over time you should notice a nice savings in gas expenses. The same is true for unused car accessories. As Men’s Fitness magazine notes, removing your vehicle's roof rack will improve your fuel economy by about 5 percent.
3. Avoid Overusing the A/C
Yes, Los Angeles gets plenty warm in the middle of summer, but using the A/C in your car as sparingly as possible is great for the planet. Excess use of your car's air conditioner puts a strain on your car’s electrical system, which makes the engine gobble up gas.
Have a mechanic check the A/C system to be sure the refrigerant is at the right level; that way, when you do use it, it will work as efficiently as possible. Then see if you can skip the A/C on days when it’s warm — but not too hot — and open the windows and/or sunroof instead to get some cooler air.
4. Switch to Synthetic Oil
Synthetic motor oil can help your car run better, and it can last up to three times longer than traditional petroleum oil. For most drivers, making this simple switch will save them an average of 20 quarts of oil every year — which is great for the Earth and your wallet.
5. Watch Those Jackrabbit Starts
When the light turns green, resist the urge to put the pedal to the metal and peel out through the intersection, as rapidly accelerating uses up a lot of gas. Additionally, when you're driving for longer distances, use your cruise control function, as this will keep your car at a gas-friendly speed and prevent a lot of back and forth acceleration and deceleration.