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Motorists can do their part to help the environment by practicing a few 'earth-friendly' car care habits, note the experts at the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). It all comes down to timely vehicle maintenance and non-aggressive driving.
Here are specific suggestions from ASE:
Slow down. Speeding and hard accelerations waste gasoline. Use cruise-control on highways to maintain a steady pace. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands.
Lighten up. Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle to reduce weight.
Don't pollute. Dispose of used motor oil, antifreeze/coolant, and old batteries properly. Some repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local government. Keep the engine running at its peak-a misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Replace filters and fluids as recommended by the owner's manual.
Get pumped. Keep the tires properly inflated and aligned. Under-inflated tires waste fuel by forcing the vehicle's engine to work harder. Moreover, properly maintained tires last longer, saving you money and lessening the burden at landfills.
Know your limitations. If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. Check out the technicians' credentials. ASE-certified professionals have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning.
Don't try this at home. Your car's air conditioner should be serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. The air conditioners in older vehicles contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which can be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
Instant karma. In addition to helping the environment, routine maintenance will help your vehicle last longer, get better gas mileage, and command a higher resale price. Pretty cool.