No matter what car you drive, there are several steps you can take to ensure it’s doing better for the environment
Whether it’s recycling plastics or composting food waste, there are many ways to go green and lower our carbon footprint, but you can also do your fair bit for the environment by changing the way you drive.
Even if your car isn’t a hybrid or electric model, there are ways to go green with your motor – saving the planet and your wallet at the same time. Let’s take a look.
Put some air in the tyres
Having deflated tyres will affect your car’s speed, as under-inflated tyres don't roll as easy as when they are full of air. Your car engine has to work harder, in turn burning more fuel.
The tyre pressure of every car will vary depending on the model (there is usually a sticker inside the driver's door or in the owner's manual which will give you the recommended pressure). It’s best to check your tyres every month, especially if you drive your car often.
Make every journey count
This may sound like an obvious one, but cutting down on unnecessary journeys will make your car more green! Instead of using the car to do short journeys or just ‘pop out for milk’ try walking or cycling instead. By not driving those shorter, unnecessary trips out, the use of your car will immediately become more effective and green.
Car share schemes within companies are another great way to make your journeys more green. Ask colleagues who live in your area to take turns and share the commute to work. It will save you all money as well as make your commute to work far more green.
Get scraping in the cold
Although it seems far more convenient and very quick way to defrost your windscreen on a cold winter morning, a quick spray of antifreeze can have a terrible effect on the environment.
When you spray the liquid onto your car, it can drip down and pollutes the groundwater, which in turn can pose a threat to nearby cats and dogs or other animals. The very simple and green solution to prevent this is to get scraping the next time your windscreen freezes over. If the idea of scraping ice off your car gives you chills, why not cover your windscreen at night with a foil or cardboard windscreen cover to prevent it freezing over.
Empty out the boot
Carrying excess weight in your vehicle will burn more fuel and ultimately make it uneconomical to drive. It may seem more convenient to keep everything but the kitchen sink in the boot (just in case), but it will be costing you in fuel whilst making your car uneconomical to run.
Try emptying out anything unnecessary – oil cans and windscreen wash for example, can be kept in a shed or cupboard until needed. Make sure your glove compartment isn’t full of items you simply don’t use and keep back seats clutter-free, to ensure your car is kept as green as possible.
Resist the call of cool air
Air conditioning is considered one of the more luxurious features of a car, especially in the summer months, but it isn’t economical and certainly won’t make your car more green when in use.
Air conditioning puts additional strain on your car’s electrics which in turn forces the engine to work harder and burn more fuel. It may take some serious willpower to resist blasting the cold air during the hot summers, however, by not using your A/C unit will keep your car green and your carbon footprint slightly less.
If you simply can’t resist, make sure to have the air conditioning unit and filters regularly maintained. Having old or faulty air conditioning will put more pressure on your engine, causing your car to use more fuel.
Maintain fuel filters and servicing
Ensuring your car is regularly serviced and maintained will make sure it uses fuels as economically as possible, saving you money as well as making your car greener to run.
This brings us onto the next element of making your car more eco-friendly – the fuel filters. Changing fuel filters every 30,000 miles ensures your car maintains good fuel efficiency.
If your car is modern enough to have cruise control, make sure to use it on longer journeys. Maintaining a good speed will ensure your car is using fuel most efficiently. If your car doesn’t have cruise control, maintaining the same speed on a journey will make sure your car is driving at maximum fuel efficiency.
Stop-start driving or fast acceleration causes the engine to use up fuel much quicker; by keeping your speed consistent your car is guaranteed to be running more green.
Consider making your next car a green one
Probably the best way to minimise your car’s environmental impact is by ensuring you’re driving an eco-friendly model. As part of our campaign about eco-friendly motoring, we’ve created a huge comparison tool which allows you to compare your old car’s green credentials against a new model. Take a look, and see if you can find a new car that’s best for the environment, and best for you.
Find out more about eco driving
To learn more about hybrid and electric cars, take a look at our myth-busting eco-driving hub. Want to trade in your current car for a eco-friendly model? Use our eco-friendly car comparison tool and see which cars are right for you.