Tips to green your car

Photo: istockphoto.com/Loke Yek Mang

Here are some suggestions from our Green Tips guide to help you green your driving.

Cut back on your driving
Here are some suggestions from our Green Tips guide to help you green your driving.

Cut back on your driving
Driving is the most polluting thing we do: burning gasoline - or any other fossil fuel - releases pollutants that cause smog, global warming and water pollution. No one is suggesting you park your car permanently, just drive LESS. Combine several errands into a single trip, take a minute before you leave home to plan multiple errands and map out your route. Start using public transit as much as possible. Leave the car at home if you can get there by walking, cycling or taking the bus, train or metro. Some communities have started a walking school bus where parents or caregivers walk the route to school, stopping at other houses to collect kids along the way.

Buy a fuel-efficient vehicle
While the best choice by far for clean driving is a hybrid car—which runs on a combination of battery power and gasoline—there are traditional vehicles with respectable fuel-efficiency ratings. A typical car produces roughly three times its weight in carbon-dioxide emissions every year, so a good general rule is the lighter your car, the better its fuel efficiency. Most of the time you are probably driving on city streets, where four-wheel drive is unnecessary. The extra weight and friction caused by four-wheel-drive equipment just cost you gas money, so opt for a lighter, two-wheel-drive vehicle - they're easier to park anyway! If you're among the increasing number of North Americans driving a sport utility vehicle, brace yourself, because we're about to make you feel bad. Your SUV is an SEO—a Serious Environmental Offender, polluting over twice as much as the average new car and guzzling over 30% more gas than other cars.

Slow down
Do you have a need for speed? So nobody's perfect out there on the open road. We've all let the needle slip past the speed limit at one time or another. But in so many ways, it just isn't worth it. If the long (and expensive!) arm of the law isn't enough to deter your lead foot, consider this: engines are designed to operate most efficiently at the speed limit. Driving 120 the car km/hr instead of 100 km/hr increases your fuel consumption by 20%. Slow down to enjoy the ride and the cost savings.