Tips To Help Your Car “Go Green”

 

Last year marked a turning point in which Earth-friendly alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles gained major attention and an increasing market share. On top of that, the AAA Great Battery Roundup collected more than 20,000 used vehicle batteries and disposed of them in an environmentally sound manner.

But you don’t need to have old batteries lying around or buy a different vehicle to protect the environment. According to AAA spokesman Michael Calkins, you can make a meaningful contribution by adopting two easy-to-implement strategies: regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits.

The following tips can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.

* Keep your engine running at peak performance in order to conserve fuel. Perform regular vehicle maintenance at the intervals recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Seek timely service if the “check engine” warning light remains illuminated on the dash.

To find a trustworthy repair facility, ask friends for recommendations or search on www.aaa.com for AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities near you.

* Check the air pressure in your car’s tires regularly. Underinflated tires require your engine to work harder and use more fuel to maintain a given speed.

* Have your vehicle’s air conditioning serviced only by technicians who are certified to properly handle and recycle automotive refrigerants. Older air conditioning systems contain ozone-depleting chemicals that could be released into the atmosphere.

* Some older vehicles use switches that contain highly toxic mercury to activate hood, trunk and glove-box lights. Many organizations, including a number of AAA clubs across the country, now host mercury “switch out” programs in which these environmentally hazardous parts are removed for recycling and replaced with nontoxic mechanical switches.

* Avoid “jack rabbit” starts, sudden acceleration, and speeds above the posted limits; all of these habits guzzle gas.

* Properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Call your local government waste management agency to find out how. Never dispose of fluids on the ground or in any manner that might allow them to make their way into groundwater, lakes or streams.

Proper vehicle maintenance and environmentally friendly driving habits conserve natural resources, reduce exhaust emissions and reward you with a vehicle that will last longer and be safer to drive. In other words, when you “go green,” the Earth wins, your car wins — and you are the biggest winner of all!

Make Your Next Home Car Wash A Greener One

Whether you drive a perky hybrid or a well-loved clunker, there’s a greener way to wash your own car. Of course, from a standpoint of water use, commercial car washes are the “eco-friendlier” option (they tend to recycle and reuse the water). But there are steps you can take to lower the environmental impact of a car wash at home. Here’s how to wash a car and come out ahead.

1. Get out of the driveway.

Bring the car from the driveway into the yard. This will help prevent the runoff – and all the gas, oil, tar and other particulates on your vehicle – from draining into your storm sewers.  Of course, if you don’t want the chemicals of conventional cleaners seeping into your yard, you’ll want to opt for natural cleaners (some options below).

2. Put away the paper towels.

Washing with paper towels is needlessly wasteful. But there’s no need to buy shop towels or packets of ‘heavy duty’ paper towlettes. Rip up some old t-shirts, use an oversized sea sponge, or repurpose fraying washcloths from your closet. Many old fabrics can be upcycled and used again and again.

3. Step away from the hose.

Leaving the hose on throughout the washing process can waste gallons and gallons of water. Find yourself a couple of good-sized buckets and fill them up—this is all the water you need. If your hose has an automatic shut-off trigger, you can keep it around and gently mist the car to rinse.

4. Consider waterless.

You can put that hose away altogether if you consider a waterless car wash product over a traditional car cleaner. Just apply and wipe off, conserving water and eliminating runoff entirely.

5. Try a greener cleaner.

If waterless isn’t your thing, there are a number of natural car wash products on the market that won’t harm the earth with runoff.

I hope these tips inspire you to spend a day taking care of your car – and the earth – with a green car wash.  Spring is the perfect time for keeping clean, and green!

Tips To Spring Cleaning Your Car

It’s important that as the weather warms, you give your vehicle some care and attention to ensure it’s in top driving condition. Here are seven steps to help your car recover from winter and get it ready for spring.

Tips for spring cleaning your car

  1. Clean your car’s undercarriage – Depending on where you live, your car has likely been exposed to salt, sand and other grime that can accumulate underneath your car and even cause erosion. Go to a car wash that does a thorough undercarriage wash, or use a garden hose with as much pressure as possible to get rid of all of those lovely winter leftovers.
  2. Deep clean your car’s interior and exterior – Giving your car a full interior/exterior cleaning is a nice way to mark every season change, but it’s especially important in the spring considering the mess that winter brings. Get any residue away from your paint job and give your car a good wax. Clean those floor mats and empty out any extra brushes or winter necessities from your trunk – ‘tis the season to start-a-new!
  3. Take off your winter tires – Many Americans live in a climate that make winter tires a safety necessity when the temperature drops. Once the mercury climbs above 44°F (and starts to stay there!) it’s time to switch back to your all-season or performance tires.
  4. Check your brakes – Road salt can impact the condition of your brakes. Salt can corrode metal and your brake pads rely on clean, properly lubricated metal frames to work properly. Save a step and get this checked while your car is already elevated having its tires changed at a service center.
  5. Check your tire alignment – Potholes are one of the unfortunate elements of winter driving and they can certainly take their toll on your car. Have your tire alignment checked in the spring, and if you kept your all-season or all-weather tires on over the winter, consider having them rotated as well.
  6. Check your tire pressure – Checking your tire pressure is something many people do all year round. Because your tires lose about one pound per square inch for every drop in temperature, it’s especially important to check your pressure throughout the winter and as you get your car ready for the warmer months.
  7. Replace your wiper blades – Your windshield wipers get a real workout keeping your view clear of snow and sleet over the winter, so replacing them every spring (and fall) is a small investment in making sure you have unobstructed views of the road.

Following the steps above will get your car in great shape, helping it to run smoothly on all your fair weather road trips.

Car Care For Spring

While your immediate focus will likely be on restoring your car, van, SUV or truck’s exterior and interior to pristine condition, make sure you also give its mechanical systems a careful once-over to ensure they’re ready to deal with the hot summer weather ahead, particularly if its an older or high mileage vehicle.

You can have your service technician do this for you – and many service shops offer spring service special deals – but by following some basic procedures you can spot potential problem areas yourself and then have them dealt with if necessary by a pro.

You should have been keeping your vehicle washed regularly to help keep rust at bay, but if you haven’t you need to do so before checking it over as it will be easier to spot damage or problems. A do-it-yourself spring cleaning process also allows you to flush out salt and sand deposits from areas that a quick run through the car wash often misses.

Don’t forget the radiator, which may have become partially clogged with debris. A fine spray and a fairly soft brush with long bristles can help here, but don’t be too aggressive and damage the thin fins. Visually check it for corrosion or leaks.

With the engine stopped and cool you can clean the compartment with an engine specific spray cleaner, followed by a rinse (avoiding high-pressure spray on electrical parts). This will not only make this area look good but often reveal problems.

Hoses should feel firm, not mushy, be free of obvious cracks and show no evidence of leaking at connections. Belts shouldn’t be cracked, frayed, brittle or glazed looking and should be firmly, but not too tightly tensioned.

Make sure the engine is completely cool before you check coolant levels. This can usually be done by looking at the reservoir which is marked with maximum and minimum levels. Never remove the radiator cap of a hot engine. If your coolant level is low you can add a 50/50 mixture of anti-freeze and water, but make sure you check it again in a few days and if it is down, or you notice fluid under the vehicle, you probably have a leak that will require attention. Car Care Canada recommends flushing your cooling system and refilling with fresh coolant every two years as the beneficial chemicals in the coolant break down with age.

 

Should You Change Your Own Brakes?

If you have the know-how to do your own brake work or know someone who does and is willing to share their expertise for free, the do-it-yourself approach to replacing pads and rotors can save you lots of money. But be sure you know what’s wrong before you get started, or you could waste a lot of time and money.

The cost of brake parts varies widely by brand and model, and you should certainly expect to pay more for brake work on a BMW than on a Honda.

Doing it yourself also means you choose the parts that go on your car, you’re in charge of quality control and you do it on your own schedule.

If that was all there was to it, we would recommend that anyone with a little mechanical skill perform their own brake repairs. Brake maintenance, though, isn’t always as simple as just removing and replacing parts.

For example, unevenly worn brake pads could be the result of sticking caliper slide pins, the calipers themselves might need cleaning, lubricating or replacement, and excessive brake pedal travel might be the result of air in the hydraulic brake lines, not worn pads.

If you don’t have the knowledge to diagnose what might be wrong or the tools or experience to correct it, you might be wasting time and money by replacing parts because they’re the usual suspects. You might know your car better than anyone, but a good mechanic probably knows much more about brakes than you do.

Repair shops also guarantee their labor as well as the parts they install, so if something doesn’t seem right after a brake job, they usually stand behind it and fix what’s wrong.

If you decide to do the work yourself, be sure you’re addressing the root causes of your brake issues, and make sure pads, rotors and other parts really do need replacing before you buy new ones.

Above all, know your limits, because brakes are what stop your car and you don’t want to make a dangerous mistake.