You don’t have to be a hypermiler or own an electric vehicle or plug-in to be more eco-driven.
Green driving has lots of benefits. Not only is it better for the environment, but it saves you money. We’ve put together five of our favorite sustainable driving tips to help you get all your car care and driving done while increasing your MPG and decreasing your emissions.
1. Go waterless.
Eco-friendly waterless car wash and wax is a biodegradable enzyme-based spray that dissolves dirt and grime on your car. It completely eliminates the need for a hose, bucket, soap/detergent, and wax. All you need to wash your car is a spray bottle and 2-4 microfiber towels.
You don’t need any water, which is important for anyone who lives in a drought-prone area. You don’t need to drive to and from the car wash, which reduces gas consumption and vehicle emissions. You don’t need to worry about the dirt, grime, and chemicals on your car getting into your watershed, which is important for water quality everywhere. And you don’t need to worry about how much money is in your wallet. Waterless car wash and wax is the cheapest way to get a quality car wash.
We’ve tested all the leading waterless car wash products, and there are several good options on the market. Our top pick is Aero Cosmetics Waterless Wash & Wax All. If you order from our Shop and use our discount code, you can get 15% off this great product.
2. Check your tires and tire pressure regularly.
Tires are critically important for vehicle safety and fuel economy. Underinflated or worn tires increase the risk of accidents, and low tire pressure substantially reduces MPG. You should regularly check your tire pressure and wear and tear. Doing so would not only save you money on gas and reduce your emissions, but it could save your life.
If your tire pressure monitoring system does not display individual tire pressure (and many do not), we highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive tire pressure gauge and plug-in inflator. We’ve tested all the leading products, and you can find our top picks in our Shop.
3. When you need new tires, go with lower rolling resistance.
Low-rolling resistance tires (LRRTs) are designed to reduce friction and increase fuel economy. They are often standard on hybrids, but are rarely considered for replacement tires on other types of cars, even though they would meet the needs of many drivers. So when you need to replace your tires, you should look at lower rolling resistance options that match your driving style and conditions. You’ll increase your MPG and reduce your emissions.
4. Be cool, not ice cold.
Running your AC in the car consumes substantially more fuel than leaving it off, especially at slower speeds. So if you want to be cool and sustainable, then you need to reduce your reliance on AC. Here are some simple tips for cooling your car with less AC:
• Get a good sunshade. It will more than pay for itself in increased cabin comfort and reduced fuel consumption. Visit our Shop for our top picks.
• Roll your windows down and leave the AC off for the first 4-7 minutes of every drive on a warm day. Our testing shows this technique will cool the car almost as fast as AC, but without any fuel penalty.
• When you turn the AC on, don’t blast it.
• If your car has eco-mode, use it in stop and go or variable driving conditions. With some versions, it will automatically reduce AC usage when the car is accelerating. It’s a brief reduction, so the car won’t warm, but it saves you gas. If you don’t have eco-mode, you can go with an old-school hack and manually turn your AC off when you are accelerating over longer distances (e.g., merging onto a highway) and then turn it back on when you are at cruising speed.
5. Carpool within your social network.
Carpooling is perhaps the most overlooked form of sustainable driving. Although most people associate carpooling with driving to work (perhaps with a stranger), we advocate for something different and more appealing: Carpool with your friends. If you carpooled 10 miles per week with a friend (e.g., taking turns driving kids to and from sports practices or picking them up after school), you would drive 520 fewer miles each year. According to the IRS, that’s worth about $280/year in reduced wear and tear and gas savings. And your vehicle emissions would be substantially lower as well. So they next time you are heading out with a friend, or your child has a soccer practice with another child in your neighborhood, take one car instead of two and save big.
If you would like more tips like these, visit our Smarter Driving Tips Page and download our curated list of Sustainable Driving Tips.