While cars are not the greenest mode of transportation, there are plenty of simple steps that you can take to have a lighter impact on the environment. You can start by following these tips for eco-friendly car care.
Regular car maintenance
When it comes to car maintenance, small fixes can make a big difference. The more efficiently your car is running, the less fuel it requires and thus the lower its impact on the environment.
- When filling your gas tank, stop when you hear the first click of the pump switching off. That click indicates the tank’s optimum level.
- Measure your tire pressure regularly. Driving on under-inflated tires can add to your gas bill and take 15 percent off the life of your tires.
- Change your oil every 5,000 to 7,000 kilometres if you frequently make short runs of under 10 kilometres, if you drive in city traffic with many stops and starts, if you tow a heavy load regularly, or if you drive in dusty, sandy or salty conditions.
- Check your vehicle’s fluid levels every 500 kilometres in order to top them up or replace them.
- Check and replace windshield wipers when the rubber in them has worn out.
Changing your car’s oil
Even if you don’t use your car very often, you should change the oil in your car at least every 10,000 to 12,000 kilometres, or once per year. Here’s what to do with the used oil.
- When you top up your car’s oil, place a container under the engine to catch drips. Clean any spills immediately with a damp cloth.
- If you change the oil yourself, dispose of it responsibly. Place the used oil in a secure container. Never pour it down a drain.
Washing your car
- Avoid washing your car on the driveway with a hose as it wastes water and allows dirt, grease and detergents to run down drains. Instead, place it on a grassy area while washing to minimize runoff.
- Use a sponge and bucket or watering can. It takes a little more time than using a hose, but it saves water.
- Wash your car in the shade as this will slow down evaporation, which in turn will help to conserve water and avoid streaks on the paint as the car dries.
- A chamois and vigorous rubbing is the best way to achieve a streak-free finish.
- If you don’t want to clean your car yourself, take it to a car wash. It will probably use less water than a hose and the oil from your car will be diverted into the sewer, not a storm drain.
Making your own cleaning products
Environment-friendly car cleaning products are easy and inexpensive to make at home. Give these two recipes a try.
Car wax: Wax forms a protective layer between your car’s paint and the corrosive emissions from other cars and road dirt.
- 250 millilitres (1 cup) linseed oil
- 60 millilitres (4 tablespoon) carnauba wax
- 30 millilitres (2 tablespoon) beeswax
- 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) vinegar
Place the ingredients in a saucepan or the top half of a double boiler and heat slowly, stirring gently until the wax melts. Pour the mixture into a heat-resistant container. Once the wax is solid, rub it onto your car with a lint-free cloth, using a brisk side-to-side motion without undue pressure. To finish off, soak the corner of a clean cotton rag in a little extra vinegar and polish the wax to a rich shine.
Windshield cleaner: This cleaning mixture will keep your windshield free of ice and frost in cold weather.
- In a pump spray bottle, mix three parts vinegar with one part water.
- Wet a clean cloth with the mixture and coat the car windows with it. Allow to dry.
Keeping your car well maintained means a smoother ride for you and a lower impact on the environment, so everyone wins!