Happy Earth Day: 5 Green Driving Tips for a Greener Earth


Follow these simple car tips to help give Mother Earth (and your wallet) a break.
April 22, 2018

Every summer, film studios pump out blockbuster hits of superheroes saving mankind from a diabolical genius with a chip on his hugely buff shoulder. We suspend our disbelief because it’s immensely satisfying to see our lovely home safeguarded, even though it’s not possible to think we can actually fly and throw lightning bolts, let alone do it in a leather jumpsuit. Well, mere mortal, you’re in luck because Earth Day is upon us, and it’s a great time for everyone to participate in a noble mission to help save the Earth and as a result, all of mankind. Best of all, you can do it in jeans and a t-shirt.

Although this year’s Earth Day is focused on plastic pollution, there are many other ways that you and your car can pitch in and do your part. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the second leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, just behind electricity. While each car on its own produces only modest pollution, collectively our cars become a dominant contributor of harmful greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere. With just a little effort, you can help reduce emissions and gas consumption, not only decreasing your footprint, but increasing your savings on gas along the way. Future generations will thank you for it.

Maintenance is Key

These may seem like basic tips, but they can help you save significantly in the long run. The Family Handyman estimates that changing your spark plugs before they’re completely worn out can save up to $562.50 in wasted fuel and poisonous gas emissions. You have to replace them eventually, so might as well do it a little earlier and keep more hard-earned cash in your pocket. Checking your oxygen filter when you get your oil changed can help you save even more. Replacing the filter in a timely manner can help save an additional $350.

Slow Down

Driving with a lead foot can lead to a number of problems. Wear and tear on your brakes, increased gas consumption, and the attention of your local highway patrol officers. Even just a 10 mile increase from 55 MPH to 65 MPH can increase drag by over 30% and cost approximately $500-$600 in extra gas per year! It’s just not worth it to shave a few minutes off your commute. So, chill out on driving fast and remember how good it feels to cruise the open road.

Do a Car Cleanse

We’ve all been there before. A friend asks for a ride, and before they hop in you find yourself chucking a barrage of empty water bottles, socks, one shoe, and various papers from ten years ago into the back seat. There, they happily comingle with a gym bag, an empty shipping box, enough dog hair to create a reasonably believable clone, and change to park in Santa Monica for a week. If this sounds all too familiar, it’s time for a spring cleaning. Empty out your trunk and keep your car as light as possible for optimum gas mileage. For road trips, try to keep your luggage and heavy items in the middle or front of the car if safely possible. This weight distribution will help lessen drag and extra emissions from your vehicle.

Tire Pressure

This one may surprise some of you. Keeping properly inflated tires is not just better for your car, it’s immensely better for your fuel efficiency. According to RightPSI, fuel efficiency is reduced by 1% for every 3.0 Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) below recommended levels. This means that properly inflating your tires can save you up to $65/year on gas and $5/year in increased tire life. Our friends at the US Department of Energy state that underinflated tires waste 4 million gallons of gas daily, or nearly 1.5 billion annually. Your car’s recommended PSI can be found in a number of places, like your door jam, your owner’s manual, or the sidewall of your tire.

Consider a Hybrid or Electric Car

Once seen as a novelty, electric and hybrid cars have increased dramatically in popularity and availability, cementing their place on our highways and roads. Every major automaker now offers hybrid and/or electric models designed to appeal to environmentally and gas-conscious commuters. Choosing the right model takes a bit of number crunching, as many hybrid/electric models are more expensive than their gas-guzzling cousins, yet the savings in gas and government incentives can offset the difference. Check out our helpful post on hybrid cars here and find great deals on hybrids near you with TrueCar.

Learn more about all the ways you and your vehicle can make greener choices with the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.

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