9 Ways To Reduce Your Car’s Emissions

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How much CO2 (carbon dioxide) each car emits from its exhaust will be a hot topic until every vehicle on the road is a ‘zero emissions’ electric model. Major manufacturers are transitioning to this new way of power by producing more battery-powered models, but there are still a plethora of motors out there which don’t have this engine technology.

Upgrading your car is a costly solution to being a more eco-friendly driver, so what are your alternative options to reducing your current car’s emissions? Read on to discover how you can be a greener motorist on a budget.

1. Use fuel additive

fuel additive

If you drive a new diesel car, the chances are that you will have an extra reservoir next to your fuel tank for AdBlue. This is a form of additive which breaks down harmful chemicals in the engine so that gases from the tailpipe are cleaner.

You won’t need to worry too much if you drive a petrol car either, because there are separate mixtures designed to be used for these engines. Unlike AdBlue, which needs to be added to the car regularly in order for a car to comply with EU emissions standards, petrol fuel injector cleaner is optional. However, using it will greatly improve your vehicle’s efficiency while reducing its nasty releases from the exhaust.

Carbon and ethanol are two of the biggest culprits that can escape the combustion process. But universal products such as Redex can be bought online or at your local Halford’s store for little cost.

Remember: Fuel additive should be used approximately every three months in order to maintain the upkeep of your vehicle.

2. Regularly check tyre pressure

AA tyre pressure
Copyright © The AA

Under-inflated tyres can contribute massively to higher fuel consumption. As such your car will be producing more CO2 the longer you ride on them.

Research from UK tyre manufacturing company Michelin showed that tyres which are 20% under-inflated will reduce economy by around 20%.

So, we recommend that you check the pressure of all tyres at least once a month and before every long journey. You’ll be able to find out what PSI (pounds per square inch) is required for the front and rear tyres online or in the vehicle handbook. There should also be a guide as to how much pressure you need when carrying more passengers and luggage.

3. Only drive when necessary

bike not car

The convenience of having a car on the drive means any local trip can be done in minutes. Nevertheless, you should try and avoid using your vehicle full-stop, especially if the weather permits it and you have enough time to make it to your destination.

Alternatively, you could car share or cycle in order to get to where you need to be in ample time without emitting more CO2 than is necessary.

For times when you do need to jump in the car, try to whittle it down to just one journey by combining multiple trips. This is especially effective if you’re driving a diesel car, as lots of short commutes in these vehicles can clog up the DPF (diesel particulate filter). Over time this can prevent the car from being able to remove diesel matter and soot from the engine, potentially resulting in extensive damage and/or higher emissions.

4. Use premium fuel

Premium fuel

Although you’ll pay slightly more (10p-30p per litre) when filling up your car with premium fuel, its contents will mean that your car’s emissions are reduced over time.

You’ll usually be able to identify the better quality petrol and diesel fuels by the label. Names such as ‘ultimate’, ‘premium’ and ‘supreme’ with lots of ‘+’ symbols are typical indicators that you’re getting more bang for your buck.

The difference between the two types is higher octane (petrol fuel performance) and cetane (diesel fuel performance) ratings. What this means is that your car will get more miles to the gallon while your engine also cleaned and protected better.

Remember: You don’t need to constantly fill up with premium fuel in order to see the benefits, just try it occasionally and measure how your car performs compared to standard fuels.

5. Spend less time idling

engine idling

Idling in a car is when the engine is left running while stuck in traffic or parked, for example.

Although most modern cars have intelligent stop/start ignition functions which automatically shut down the engine when it’s not being used, this won’t apply to those of you with older vehicles. Regardless, you can still reduce emissions by turning the engine off if you find yourself in gridlock traffic or even a longer-than-usual wait at a set of lights.

There are financial and environmental incentives to reducing the amount of time you spend idling in a car. For example, ULEZ (ultra low emissions zones) have been rolled out in congested areas such as London in order to combat this habit. If you drive in these zones then there’s a flat-rate daily charge of £12.50 (cars, smaller vans, motorbikes and other light vehicles) or £100 (lorries, buses, coaches and other heavier vehicles).

We recommend turning your engine off if you’re waiting for 10 seconds or longer. In modern cars that have idle stop and go, the time taken to automatically kill the engine when you stop is almost instant. However, it gets fired up again just as quick.

6. Switch your driving style

slow down sign

There are several ways that you can change your driving style in order to reduce your car’s emissions. Here are just a few.

  • Keeping revs down.
  • Braking sooner and less harshly.
  • Changing gear earlier.
  • Keeping to speed limits.

These changes won’t just help you keep safe behind the wheel, but will result in you burning less fuel and emitting less from the exhaust.

7. Change your engine oil regularly

Engine oil

A well lubricated engine is the key to ensuring the longevity of your car, which is exactly what engine oil does. Essentially, it prevents the moving pistons and cylinders from overheating, which in turn prevents wear and tear that can drastically increase the inefficiency of your car. As such, CO2 emissions can also increase as a result.

It takes minutes to check what level of oil is in your engine. Simply open the bonnet, unscrew the dipstick (often a yellow/brightly coloured handle), wipe it clean with a rag and re-insert then remove it, making sure the level is between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ points.

If there’s not enough oil, check which type your vehicle takes and add more before rechecking the levels. You may need to bleed the engine if there’s too much oil.

8. Keep up to date with servicing

vehicle maintenance

By this, we don’t just mean sticking to the mandatory MOT test once your car has reached its third birthday.

There’s a lot of driving which takes place between each MOT, and therefore the chances of issues occurring with your car are increased. So, making regular vehicle checks on vital components such as oil, brake fluid level and tyre pressure will ensure that your car is kept in good condition and won’t produce higher emissions from running inefficiently.

Be sure to keep an eye on your vehicle’s dashboard for signs of any warning lights that could indicate problems with important components such as the engine, brakes and oil level. These are good indicators to use in order to determine when your car needs to be booked in for a service.

9. Improve your car’s aerodynamics

roof rails

This doesn’t necessarily mean making expensive upgrades like adding spoilers, adding carbon fibre trim packs to the body and so on. There are easier, cheaper ways you can ensure your vehicle doesn’t have a lot of drag, which causes more fuel to be burnt and increased emissions.

Here are just a few ways you can make your car more aero.

  • Remove any roof racks/bars when they aren’t being used.
  • Keeping the windows closed and using the A/C to regulate the temperature in the car, especially at higher speeds.
  • Changing your air filter if necessary – this allows the engine to breathe, but can clog up if left and not replaced (usually every 15,000-30,000 miles is the typical lifespan of a filter) which can cause wear and tear problems that increase vehicle emissions.

Looking for a new car with low emissions? Compare prices on the lease deals for the latest models compliant with EU emissions standards.

To stay up to date on the latest car reviews and auto news, check out the Moneyshake blog.