Regular vehicle maintenance and sensible driving habits will help the environment and save you money in the long run, according to the pros at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
Well-maintained vehicles pollute less, last longer and command greater resale values. Follow these tips from ASE to become a more savvy and environmentally conscientious car-owner.
* Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent, for instance. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the owner’s manual to keep your vehicle in peak condition.
* Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to reduce the effort required by the engine – and gasoline consumption.
* Find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations or check the reputation of the repair shop you are considering by contacting your local consumer group.
Check the technicians’ credentials as well, including ASE certification. ASE-certified auto technicians have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning.
* Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-
depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
* Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations; both habits guzzle gas.
* Don’t let the car sit idle with the engine running. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine to conserve fuel.
* Consolidate errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.
* Remove excess items from the vehicle to reduce weight and improve gas mileage. Also, be sure to remove that rooftop luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.
ASE was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. Its certified technicians wear blue-and-white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.