13 Ways to Make Your Existing Car Greener and Avoid Buying a New One

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High gas prices got you down? Wishing you had bought a new Prius or even an EV about a year ago so you could be saving a ton of money on those twice weekly fill ups? Me too. However, buying a new car isn’t in the cards for me right now, so I have to make due with the one I have. I previously wrote about how I was saving money on gasoline just by driving the speed limit but for this post I wanted to share many more tips on how to make your own car more green and eco-friendly without you having to spend a ton of dough on a new hybrid this year.

Automobiles cause 51 percent of the carbon monoxide pollution in the air, so it’s important to do what we can to make our cars a little less dirty whenever possible. If you can follow most or all of this advice during your daily motoring activities, you will save money on gasoline, help reduce overall emissions, keep your car running more efficiently, and probably extend the life of it as well.

  1. Change your oil regularly. Do not change it every 3,000 miles as your local oil change place wants you to do. Follow the instructions in your car’s manual. My truck, for instance, needs a change ever 5,000 miles or so.
  2. Use cruise control. This coincides with, and helps you stick to, driving the speed limit.
  3. Keep tires inflated. The correct PSI is listed right on the side of the tires, so there is no excuse to not have them inflated to the optimum pressure. Check them every few weeks.
  4. Refuel during the evening. This helps reduce pollution by preventing gas fumes from heating up and thus creating ozone.
  5. Don’t top off your tank. Those instructions are there on the gas pump for a reason. Don’t do it!
  6. Empty your trunk. Why carry around all that extra weight, which not only costs you more in fuel but also more wear on your engine.
  7. Shut the car off. If you idling for more than 30 seconds, turn the car off. At long lights, train crossings, or when waiting for someone, I always turn the car off. Fuel-injected cars do not, contrary to popular mythology, use more gas starting up each time than they would just idling
  8. Combine errands. Start a list of places you need to go and do them all at once. That way you drive much less than going out each day/hour just to take care of one little thing.
  9. Buy fuel-efficient tires. Yes, there is such a thing and yes you should look for them next time you need tires for your vehicle. Check out online stores like Tire Rack to order your tires and have them shipped to a local installation shop; it could save you hundreds on your next set of tires.
  10. Avoid quick starts and stops. This should be a no-brainer, but oftentimes people forget it.
  11. Replace your air filter regularly. In fact, you can do one better and buy a washable one from K&N, which you can use for 100,000 miles or more when taken care of.
  12. Remove the roof rack. If your car has a roof rack and you don’t use it, why not take it off? It’s just creating drag which reduces your fuel economy.
  13. Maintain your vehicle. Nothing helps a car run better than when it is properly maintained. This goes beyond oil changes; regular maintenance and tune ups do a lot to reduce emissions and increase MPG.

Sure, you could do even more to clean up your act – take public transportation, ride your bike or skateboard, walk, or even spend the money on an all-electric car like the Nissan Leaf. But not everyone can do any or all of these things, which is why it is important to do what you can to make your own existing car a little more eco-friendly if possible. Do as many of the above as you can and you will be helping to keep our planet cleaner and greener.

Do you have any suggestions for making your current car a little more green?


13 Ways to Make Your Existing Car Greener and Avoid Buying a New One — 19 Comments

  1. I really need to empty out my trunk. I am sure there are things in there that I can do without. Also, I should start re-fueling at night. I never thought of that. Thanks!

  2. Huh, I never knew that about filling up at night. Have you ever explored reusing vegetable oil and converting your car to diesel? I’ve only heard about it…and most people who tell me say it’s easier than you’d think, but I’d love to learn more.

  3. I almost always use cruise control whenever I can. It is so great. Another tip would be to keep your car in good visual condition. If your car still looks great chances are you won’t mind holding on to it longer. Keep up the appearance!

  4. Nice tips, and beyond being green in the environmental sense, there is “green” saved in the financial way too! There is money to be saved by making small adjustments to how we manage our vehicles in terms of usage and maintenance.

  5. Use a full synthetic oil blend. It may cost more, but it can help your engine to run better for a longer period of time. That’s green! or at least greener.

  6. anyone know anything about converting a hybrid into a plug in electric car. heard it only costs 2k.

  7. I definitely quick start and stop, I just can’t help myself. I want to get to job sites on time and it feels like all day I sit in traffic. So when I can actually go and have room to just go, I do! I start fast and then hit the brakes at the last minute! Not great, I know. 🙁

  8. I’ve tried to be more aware of idling. My husband used to leave the car idling if he was just running in somewhere really quick so that I could stay cool or warm. But just running in somewhere, like a gas station for a bottle of water, can take many minutes or longer. Now, I shut off the engine and tough out the temps.

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