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Car Maintenance is a Must!

2010 August 26

By Lina Younes

During last week’s blog on “do-it-yourselfers” and the environment, I mentioned how proper maintenance of cooling/heating equipment and household appliances will help you save money and protect the environment. Well, the same thing applies to cars. Taking care of your car means more than just filling it with gas or changing the oil from time to time. Treating your car well will extend the life of your vehicle, saving you money, and helping to keep the air clean.

Some of the useful tips on car maintenance include:

  • Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended level. When tires are not inflated properly they increase the wear-and-tear of the tire and fuel costs.
  • Getting regular tune-ups will go a long way to increasing fuel efficiency and improving the lifespan of your vehicle.
  • Changing the oil regularly will contribute to a cleaner engine and lower vehicle emissions.
  • Keeping your air filter clean will also protect the environment.

In addition to giving your car the proper maintenance, there are simple steps to contribute to pollution reduction. How can you keep emissions as low as possible? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t top off.  Don’t fill up the car with gas after you hear the click at the pump! Continuing to fill the gas tank after you hear the click is a total waste of money and actually sends harmful gasoline vapors into the air.
  • Whenever you can, combine errands in order to reduce unnecessary driving.
  • Don’t drive aggressively.
  • Avoid stop and go traffic. I know this is easier said than done, but with some planning you can avoid abrupt changes in speed which waste gas, generate emissions, and cause greater wear-and-tear on your car.

For those interested in adopting greener behaviors to reduce their carbon footprint even further, changing your means of transportation might be a good start. How about leaving the car at home at least one day a week for starters? Carpooling, using mass transportation, biking are greener transportation alternatives. And how about good old fashioned walking?

You know, I was actually writing this blog while I was waiting at the service station. These were just some of the green ideas I came up with. As always, I would like to hear your suggestions.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force.  Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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37 Responses leave one →
  1. Charles Roberson permalink
    August 26, 2010

    Changing oil to soon is probably one of the most wastful things anyone can do. Most consumers relie on the old rule that your oil should be changed every 3000 miles. this is not true. Depending on your driving the change oil indicator or change oil soon light on most cars is very reliable. Most vehicles today use the indicator light to let you know when to change your oil . If dealerships and oil change centers would be honest the public could save millions of gallons of oil and help much more with the enviromental effect of changing oil to soon. I could go on and on but I think if people would just read the owners manuel it would help. A program to educate the consumer about vehicle maintance is badly needed. Seems a little knowlede could go a long way.

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    August 26, 2010

    Environmental awareness is key and as you say, a little knowledge goes a long way. Luckily newer car models have the indicator light which tells you when to change the oil. Just wonder how many people make note of it or even read the manual. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Fred Johnson permalink
    August 26, 2010

    The new oil indicator lights are based on 5000 mile oil changes. They are no more accurate than doing it every 3000 miles. The TRUE indication of whether your oil is ready to be changed is its color. The darker it is (more solids in it), the more it needs to be changed.

    Saying that dealers and oil change centers aren’t being honest with the public is just being paranoid. It’s not their job to educate the public, it’s their job to keep their customers’ cars running smooth, and frequent oil changes does that. The benefits from keeping good oil in your car far outweigh any environmental damage that is caused by changing the oil. That, and the oil that is changed out gets recycled anyways.

  4. edgardo berraz permalink
    August 26, 2010

    It’s really,necessary,car is a must.I think than if all the carmakers and all the carowners feeling the goal who is carmaintenance by protect enviroment,all will have to much more dedicated to it.

  5. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    August 29, 2010

    This is a great article with lots of good information in it. Car maintenance should be left to the experts since they have the know-how and tools and infrastructure to maintain cars and pickups in the best environmentally safe way. In California, the State Water Quality Control Board San Diego District is putting together tough new regulations on storm water runoff and is making dry weather runoff near illegal in all but a few exceptions like using water to put out fires. So people should also take their cars and pickups to car washes to clean them because, again, the car wash has the infrastructure in place to comply with the Water Quality Control Board regulations.
    It is always better to leave the car home and use public transit whenever possible. Sadly, in parts of rural California, that is just not possible yet. Good public transportation needs to include good rural public transportation as well. One of the things being done is a new employment program called Employment First to move as many disabled persons from workshops into community jobs as possible and a major issue is public transportation, especially in rural areas. One Regional Center here experimented with a transportation broker and got into trouble with the contract. Meanwhile, in other areas private wheelchair transportation providers are taking advantage of clients and websites say you can go into that business using used equipment, no standards for drivers or equipment, little money needed for start up, and you can charge from $30.00 to over $100.00 a person each way a trip. We need rural public transportation the disability communihty, seniors, and rural people in general can use. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have in place a good model for rural public transportation with 7 fixed route bus lines that serve the entire reservation and that connect the reservation to rural towns in northeastern Oregon and cross the state line to serve the larger cities of Walla Walla, Pasco, and Kennewick, Washington. The tribal bus service is used by many rural people on and off the reservation and ridership continues to increase. A similar system is operated by the Conederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Reservation in Washington connecting that reservation to the large tri-cities area near the Oregon Border. This kind of good rural public transportation is what is desperately needed and hopefully, in a few years, it will be a reality in California’s rural areas significantly reducing the environmental impact of rural car traffic and bringing tribal governments, small towns and rural counties closer together. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  6. lyounes permalink*
    August 30, 2010

    Thank you for your insightful and thorough comment. Keep them coming.

  7. Golam permalink
    September 4, 2010

    It’s a great article with a lot of information. It is always better to leave the car home and use public transit whenever possible. That way we can save our envirnment.

  8. manjit permalink
    September 21, 2010

    Only want to say your site is as Great. The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and i can see the love in this field. Well with your permission allow me to keep up to date with succeeding post. Thanks a million and please keep up the accomplished work.

  9. Car dealers in illinois permalink
    September 27, 2010

    For your safety, I recommend to have your car inspected regularly, at least once a year, by a mechanic. I mean not just visual inspection by one of the fast lube places, but a mechanic that can lift your car and check major components such as brakes, suspension, etc., while having your tires rotated, for example. This is because many components (e.g ball joints), can not be inspected visually.

  10. Badger car leasing permalink
    November 17, 2010

    Driving smoothly and under light throttle is the best way to help the environment and don’t use the car on short journeys!

  11. Chuck permalink
    January 22, 2011

    Keep your car clean while helping protect our planet by going to a professional “Green” car wash. many studies have proved washing in your driveway not only wastes water, but the chemicals used to clean your ride are now washing down the storm drains, into the rivers and lakes and then killing our fish. Professional car wash use eco friendly chemicals and many places re-use the water and treat it before it finally gets sent to the area’s local water treatment center, not into our rivers and lakes.

  12. concrete driveway permalink
    March 7, 2011

    Yeah! I am agree with your point.
    Maintenance is just like maintaining your concrete driveway.

  13. wheelchairs permalink
    April 11, 2011

    I appreciate your post, i learn few things in this post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

  14. Waqas permalink
    May 24, 2011

    Great post, I agree environmental awareness is the key and regular car Maintenance is a must, I love keeping my car clean and upto mark, for my car interior and exterior I get steam cleaning done and for the engine I keep regular reminder to remind me when maintenance is due

  15. gerald permalink
    June 7, 2011

    Turbo is necessary for boosting up the speed and gain momentum in driving experience

  16. Headlight Restoration Kit permalink
    June 15, 2011

    Most people are forgetting about their lenses when it comes to car maintenance. Whenever I’m on the streets I see so many cars with heavily hazed headlights… yellowed, cloudy, scratched… I’d like to know how they get past the safety inspections with such headlights.

    Changing oil and cleaning air filter is definitely important but so are headlights. They are a highly safety relevant part of your car so before keeping on driving with poor lights think about investing 10 bucks in a Headlight Restoration Kit. They are easy to use, almost everybody should be capable to restore headlights this way.

  17. wheelchairs permalink
    July 4, 2011

    Very good post, I was really searching for this topic, as I wanted this topic to understand completely and it is also very rare in internet, that is why it was very difficult to understand.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  18. R. Elliot permalink
    August 25, 2011

    Hi Lina, this is a terrific post. It looks like you’ve covered just about everything as it relates to car maintenance.

    Love what you said here:

    “How about leaving the car at home at least one day a week for starters? Carpooling, using mass transportation, biking are greener transportation alternatives. And how about good old fashioned walking?”

    I’d written a similar post not so long ago. What’s interesting is that even though my intent was to make the piece more about how to save money on gas, than how to be green we arrived at many of the same conclusions.

    Thanks for the insightful post!

  19. Rob permalink
    January 7, 2012

    This is a good article and it has reminded me that with the cold weather, I oughta check my tires again. They lose air when it gets cold. Good thinking.

  20. Lina-EPA permalink*
    January 10, 2012

    You read my mind! In fact that’s the subject of one of my upcoming posts. Happy new year.

  21. May 2, 2012

    i was very amazed with the posts, i’ve read it all and i’d love to read the future posts in this site! it is full of knowledge and i am very much impressed.

  22. May 11, 2012

    There are many ways to do to take care of your car and make it looks new even if not. It is really very important to take care of our car since this is our way to make traveling to other places faster and easier. I believe that the best ways to take care of our car are by performing regular washing, checking the oil, gasoline, warming up every morning, relaxed driving, avoid humps and more. In fact, having a good car will ensure our safety on the road while traveling because we can avoid car failure while driving. Thank you for sharing this informative article, keep it up!

  23. August 7, 2012

    Hi Lina,
    Thank You for Sharing a awesome article…This article is regarding both Automobile maintenance and eco-friendliness….Keep up the work…Good!

  24. Ron permalink
    September 13, 2012

    About air filter… Replacing your filter is not always needed. You can clean it with some compressed air and that will help you to save some money.

  25. car servicing permalink
    June 11, 2013

    Ron, cleaning out your air filter is a short term solution to getting a replacement for one of the hardest working components in your engine.

  26. Sarah Davies permalink
    June 17, 2013

    You have touched on a very imporatnt topic. There are many benefits of car servicing including:
    Reduced maintenance costs
    Better Fuel Economy
    Enhanced durability
    Increased safety on the road

  27. Steve Davis permalink
    September 26, 2013

    I agree with you and also think that we should maintain our car. if we keep our car in a good condition, then we can also keep it environment clean and keep our car in an exotic condition.

  28. Marc permalink
    October 7, 2013


    The other great thing about servicing your car, is that you can have the car for a longer time, because the factories producing the cars omits a lot of CO2 and other harmful gasses too…
    Using public transportation as much as you possibly can, is also a great way to keep down CO2 emissions…

  29. Mark permalink
    November 1, 2013

    Re: ‘Don’t top off your tank’. Wrong, not the issue. Your vehicle has a carefully designed and self testing vapor emissions containment system known as EVAP. When you add in extra fuel after the pump stops you foul that system. It’s like running on a full stomach. Not fueling your vehicle correctly can damage the very system that keeps it environmental. Also, can lead to ‘Check Engine’ lamp on and moderately expensive repairs. Any repairs due to lack of maintenance or incorrect operation increases your carbon footprint.

  30. Mark permalink
    November 1, 2013

    Re: Oil change intervals. Quantifying too frequent oil changes as taking millions of barrels of oil is subjective but probably accurate. However, in my experience as an automobile technician and later an service writer I have never found frequent fluid changes of any kind do be a waste. Those vehicles required far less parts and repairs. Subjectively, the carbon footprint of wearing out your vehicles components is astronomical when followed from mining to manufacturing to distributing to disposal.

  31. Joshua J. Winx permalink
    December 12, 2013

    I like these tips. That I do. I also love how many of these tips can help people. Thanks!

  32. John Alex permalink
    January 21, 2014

    That’s really a very good post. Through this post you have create a bundle of information for car maintenance and a lot of people will get the best solution regarding to best cars maintenance. But I also want to participate in this conversation by adding some points.
    Timely changes of engine oil increase the engine efficiency and fuel consumption will also come in good position. Car servicing also have a lot of benefits like it enhanced durability, better fuel productivity and this will also increased safety on the road. You will get the desire solution.

  33. Sarah J permalink
    July 11, 2014

    Hi Lina,
    I live in Enfield, UK. I have recently purchased a used Sedan from a car dealer. It is an EXL sedan V6 2010 make with 4 door. Fortunately not having any issue with this one. But I must appreciate your useful car maintenance tips provided in the blog. Regular car checkup, at least once in every 6 months is always recommended.
    One more thing I just want to add here is before opting for or anywhere in UK; one must research well about the authenticity of the service provider. It will help you & your vehicle to enjoy a genuine service always.

  34. Affordable Mechanics in Ipswich permalink
    July 24, 2014

    Very helpful car tips! These are the kind of tips that I’d like to share with my clients.

  35. long permalink
    August 29, 2014

    I work with car maintenance routine is always a very important thing, it helps you keep your vehicle safe and strong.

  36. ashley daniel permalink
    September 29, 2014

    scheduled maintenance is necessary for the car to have a long life. Fluidity checking,Air in tyres are need to be checked frequently.

  37. Julia Roberts permalink
    March 19, 2015

    Superior material! I am intimidated by the excellence of information. There are a lot of high-quality funds here. I am sure I will visit this site again soon.

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