4 New Year's Resolutions for your car

Photo: istockphoto.com/Jarek Szymanski

Here are some valuable tips from Natural Resources Canada to help you green your car and start off the year the right way.

1. Get your vehicle's body into shape
Most people resolve to get their body into better shape in the New Year. Why not make the same resolution for your vehicle? A simple vehicle maintenance regime -- including measuring your tire pressure, checking for leaks once a month, taking your vehicle in for regular tune-ups and reading the owner's manual -- will help you save money and fuel, and protect the environment. Maintenance regimes vary widely from one vehicle to another so check with the manufacturer of your vehicle and find a trained automotive professional to tune up your vehicle.

2. Be a fuel-efficient driver

Relax behind the wheel. Aggressive driving and speeding can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 35 percent. Slowing down, giving yourself more time and planning your routes ahead of time are just a few of the many things you can do to save money and fuel, and lower your vehicle's emissions. The EcoAction program offers easy access to information, including fuel consumption guides and other tools, to help you choose the cleanest, most efficient car or truck and track your fuel consumption.

3. Kick the idling habit
New Year's is a great time to start kicking bad habits like unnecessary idling. It's bad for your wallet, your vehicle, the environment and the health of people around you. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to warm up your car is to drive it at a moderate speed. Idling for 10 minutes a day produces almost a quarter-tonne of carbon dioxide emissions and costs you more than $80 every year!

Avoid using automatic car starters -- they encourage idling and waste a lot of fuel. Even on the coldest winter days (and as long as your windows are defrosted) today's electronically controlled engines allow you to drive away 30 seconds after starting the engine, even on the coldest winter days.

Another option is to use a block heater to warm your vehicle's engine before you start it. Use a timer so that the vehicle will be warm by the time you need it. The Idle-Free Zone can help you set up a campaign in your community.

4. Check your tire pressure

Your tires need special attention during winter. Cold temperatures decrease the air pressure in tires, which adds to the rolling resistance caused by snow and slush. Measure tire pressure regularly, especially after a sharp drop in temperature. Operating a vehicle with just one tire under-inflated by 8 psi (56 kPa) can reduce the life of the tire by 15 000 kilometres (9,320 miles) and increase the vehicle's fuel consumption by 4 percent. For improved fuel efficiency and enhanced safety, give your tires the attention they need.

Find more tips and guidelines to go green at the Natural Resources website.