You may take steps to reduce your environmental impact through the products you purchase and simple household actions, such as recycling - but what about the car you drive?
"Basic vehicle maintenance, as well as a few helpful driving tricks, can go a long way toward protecting the environment, extending vehicle life and improving fuel economy," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.
The experts with the Car Care Council suggest these easy ways to turn your car into a mean, green driving machine - for your wallet and the environment.
• Hang onto your current vehicle and limit the number of new cars you buy over the course of a lifetime. Extending vehicle life is as simple as taking care of your vehicle properly. You'll gain years of reliable service without monthly car payments and higher insurance rates.
• Follow a vehicle service schedule including fuel-saving steps like keeping tires properly inflated, replacing air filters regularly and using the correct motor oil. Routine maintenance helps reduce emissions and fuel consumption, saving money at the pump.
• Recycle or properly dispose motor oil, tires, batteries, fluids and other vehicle components to help protect the planet when performing vehicle maintenance or repairs.
• Drive green and recognize that how you drive has a lot to do with fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Jerky and aggressive driving decreases your miles per gallon (MPG) and increases wear and tear on your vehicle. Minimize unnecessary miles by combining errands in one trip.
• Perform needed maintenance, providing general maintenance and having clean air filters will help your car pollute less and burn less gas. With a proper tune-up, you can save four percent on the cost of gas and up to 40 percent by replacing a faulty oxygen sensor. Simply changing the car's air filter can improve vehicle performance.
• Lighten the load by getting the junk out of the trunk and the excessive things out of your car. Extra items weigh the vehicle down and cause an increase in gas usage. Of course, emergency items such as a spare tire, flashlight and a first-aid kit should always have a place inside your car.
• Check your vehicle's gas cap and avoid unnecessary fill-ups. Loose, damaged or missing gas caps cause millions of gallons of gas to evaporate into the air every year. Topping off your gas tank when filling up your car can also release harmful vapors into the environment.