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Eco-Friendly Driving Tips For Earth Day And Beyond

Everyday Eco-Friendly Driving Tips

Whether it’s upping your recycling efforts, switching to paperless billing statements or vowing to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, reducing your environmental impact can be inspiring. But when it comes to big things like your car, truck or SUV it’s hard to know where to start.

If you’re wanting to fully commit and go electric, there are a few things you should know about electric cars.

But if you’re simply looking to do better with your gas-powered vehicle, we’ve compiled eco-friendly driving tips you can use to help work toward a cleaner, greener planet.

Watch the extra weight

While there are some things you might always want to keep in your trunk, such as an emergency kit, it’s best to clear out any unnecessary items. Toting around an extra 100 pounds can reduce your fuel efficiency. This is just one step toward improving your gas mileage.

Think about the outside of your car, too; for example, roof racks increase wind resistance and can decrease how far you can go on one tank. If you do need to haul gear on the outside of your vehicle, try to use a rear-mounted cargo box instead of a roof-mounted one. At highway speeds, roof-mounted boxes can reduce fuel economy by 6 to 17%, while rear-mounted boxes typically have a 1 to 5% impact.  

Avoid idling your engine

Idling uses more fuel than restarting your car, gives off 80% more pollution than when your car is moving and can even come with a fine in some areas. If you’re staying put for a minute or more, consider turning off your engine.

Several GM models are now equipped with stop-start systems, which help a vehicle conserve fuel by automatically shutting off the engine when the car comes to a stop. Once you take your foot off the brake, the engine automatically restarts.

Pay special attention to ozone alert days

Air quality alert days are when ozone becomes concentrated near the ground, making it difficult to breathe. Emissions from cars can make this worse. On these days in particular, try to refuel in the evening and avoid any gasoline spillage. High temperatures and low wind can quickly convert vapors into ozone pollutants.

Faulty or missing gas caps can be the source of gasoline vapors as well. Although many GM vehicles are now equipped with capless fuel systems, some are not. It’s a good idea to make sure your gas cap fits properly and is on all the way, no matter the weather.

Keep your speed steady and within the speed limit

Once you reach more than 50 mph, you lose fuel efficiency, and that only gets worse as you go faster. It's best to drive the speed limit, avoid accelerating quickly whenever possible and use cruise control when you can.

Recycle all the auto parts you can

Make sure to either recycle or properly dispose of vehicle-related items like motor oil, oil filters, tires, batteries and fluids when maintaining or repairing your vehicle. Depending on where you live, there may be ordinances or laws around proper disposal of these items. When it comes to recycling, tires can find a second life as synthetic turf, playground surfaces or road embankments.

Keep your car in tip-top shape

Make sure your tires are inflated to their recommended pressure. When they’re underinflated, fuel consumption may increase by as much as 3% — not to mention that they're more likely to blow out and potentially cause an accident.

When you follow the maintenance schedule recommended by your dealership, your vehicle will be more fuel-efficient and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Schedule regular tuneups with your local GM dealership to replace air filters or motor oil, get a tire rotation and more.

Checking all of these boxes and still not getting the fuel efficiency you want? It may be time to take advantage of the latest offers and get a new vehicle.

If we all commit to a few small changes, we can make a big impact. Check out more ways to make a difference with your vehicle.

Allison Scott
By Allison Scott, GM Financial

Allison Scott stays plugged in to all things electric cars-related, and likes to balance it out by sharing a budgeting tip or two. When she's not working, you'll find her jamming out to John Mayer, cracking "dad jokes" or cheering on the Dallas Stars.


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