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Auto Club: Use These Tips to "Green" the Car You Own This Spring; Get Better Gas Mileage, Too


(LOS ANGELES, April 1, 2008) Consumers are concerned about record gas prices and the overall economy, and many have purchased new vehicles to meet their need for a greener vehicle. However, since the average price of a new car costs nearly $29,000, most car owners keep their vehicle for approximately 10 years. The Automobile Club of Southern California says that it’s possible for car owners to get these older cars to be “green,” too.

“By following the Auto Club’s car maintenance tips, a driver uses less fuel which helps with keeping the air cleaner and increases mileage, which provides additional benefits to the car owner and the community,” said the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor.

The following “green” tips are for car owners and their cars from the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center.

1. Maintain Proper Alignment. As tires roll at higher speeds, fine granules of rubber are worn off. These are called “particulates” and can float into the air, adding to pollution. Keep your car in alignment at all times as recommended in your car’s owner manual so that tires wear properly with less rolling resistance (and better fuel economy). Reduced tire wear can help to reduce the amount of particulates.

2. Check Engine Icon Immediately. When the “check engine” light is on, it means that your vehicle has exceeded the standard for emissions by at least 50% throwing more pollutants into the air, according to Mazor. It also means that you should take the vehicle into a reputable repair facility immediately.

3. Change Over to Synthetic Fluids. Motorists may realize up to a 1% increase in fuel economy when using quality 100% synthetic fluids. Increasing fuel economy decreases fuel consumption overall, and saves money. It also cuts greenhouse gases and reduces your carbon (CO2) footprint.

4. Please, No Leaks! Don’t allow any of your vehicles to develop an oil leak, or any fluid leak. Fluids outside of the engine drip on the highway, as well as your driveway, and can become runoff into the ocean after it rains and the vapors from these leaks contribute to smog formation.

5. Retest Your Battery After 3 Years. Recycle Your Used Battery. After three years, each time you bring the car in for service, have the battery tested. Cars won’t start or will have difficulty starting with a weak battery. A weak battery causes the alternator to work harder and the harder the alternator works, the more fuel you’ll end up using. If replacing the car battery yourself, recycle your dead battery at a local facility that accepts used batteries.

6. Use the Correct Weight Oil. Use the lightest oil specified for your current driving conditions. The top number is the cold weight of oil and the bottom number is the hot weight of oil designed to meet a certain temperature for running your vehicle. Ex: 5/20. The heavier the oil, the harder it is for engine parts to rotate.

7. Drive on Fresh Ignition Components. Since the phrase "tune-up" doesn’t really apply anymore to modern vehicles, said Mazor, a car’s performance is about good spark plugs and ignition coils. Excessive wear of either component will inhibit a car’s spark and combustion, resulting in less performance and inefficient use of fuel. Ignoring the health of these parts can ultimately burn out the catalytic converter, leading to a large and expensive car repair.

8. Keep Proper Tire Pressure. When tire pressure decreases, rolling resistance increases, which causes a drag on the engine and means the tire is wearing out faster, said Mazor. Maintaining correct pressure in the tires means that you’ll replace them less often, and burn less gasoline, which results in big savings to the motorist. Also, by extending their life, your tires won’t be sent to a landfill any sooner than necessary, added Mazor.

9. Air Filter. Check the air filter every six months, or 7,500 miles. Emissions can increase with a dirty air filter. Typically, repair shops will inspect the filter at each oil change. A clean air filter allows air to enter through the engine more easily, reducing the strain on the engine. It also keeps the engine clean, which can have a significant impact on emissions.

10. Use the Air Conditioner Sparingly. Even though it’s spring, using the air conditioner impacts fuel economy. While the air compressor is spinning, more power is spent using more fuel and increases emissions.

11. Recycle the Right Way. If you’re a driveway mechanic make sure you recycle used oil, used oil filters and other used parts properly. In most areas, it’s against the law to dump these in the regular weekly trash, said Mazor. County facilities and many auto parts retailers accept used oil and other parts. Check their web sites and the phone book for telephone numbers and addresses.

A local AAA-Approved Auto Repair facility can assist with these tips. Click here or call (800) 713-0003 to find a local facility.
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.