Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Trails To You

A couple days ago we discussed some of the ways to have a more environmentally conscious holiday season. One of the largest contributors of carbon emissions is through travel in a vehicle. For those who are traveling by car it is important to ensure proper maintenance is done prior to leaving on the big adventure so carbon emissions are reduced. There are three easy solutions for quick and inexpensive maintenance that will greatly help -- changing out the air filter, proper tire inflation and tread and reducing drag.

The videos below are just over a minute long or less and show how easy it can be to do these simple fixes ourselves. Of course the option to take the car in to a mechanic for a complete maintenance overhaul is always a great idea before a long road trip but it is best to contact the repair shop of choice at least two weeks prior to the scheduled travel date to ensure an appointment is available, especially at the holiday season when hours may be different or appointments are booked out well in advance.

This video shares how to change the air filter on our cars. Changing the air filter allows the car to intake proper oxygen levels thereby reducing engine contaminates and providing better overall gas mileage. An air filter is relatively inexpensive considering the importance; a standard filter for my Toyota Corolla will run about $15 at a local Auto Zone.

In this video we learn the importance, not just for environmental reasons but safety as well, for proper tire inflation and tread. A tire gauge can be purchased at any auto parts store and they are generally about $3.00 for the pen style (please note there are digital models available that are more expensive). Some pen style gauges like the one seen in this video also have a tread gauge attached. The cost will go up only slightly for this addition.

One of our newest readers, Hyla of Green Earth Journey, made a fantastic recommendation to lessen the stuff in our vehicles to reduce drag and improve gas mileage. For many families there will be at least one child in the car which can significantly up the stuff factor. So what do we do to lessen the burden? First estimate how long of a trip it will be. If a family visit will last a couple weeks why not consider shipping a small box of toys or other items in advance; one full shipping truck is a great improvement over 50 half full vehicles. For shorter trips, be sure to take only what is needed for the time that will be spent. Before leaving on the journey, open up all areas of the vehicle and remove what is not needed. Many times we are on the go and unused items can build up in a vehicle and become forgotten. A good example of this is my own trunk; I carry my ladder with me to job sites but it certainly does not need to accompany me to Thanksgiving dinner. Remove the unneeded items from the interior areas (do not forget to check the trunk and recycle whatever possible) and then bring the car to a car wash for a quick scrub and vacuum. Removing all excess from the vehicle including dirt and debris will greatly improve the efficiency of the automobile.

For a total investment of less than a tank of gas, we can all travel safer and more environmentally friendly this holiday season.


artjewl said...

Lucifredika here, acting as Devil's Advocate:

As far as the air filter goes, wouldn't tossing a dirty air filter every 30 days have more environmental impact than fewer mpgs?

(I didn't know these existed!)

Oh, and what's your take on fuel additives? (I use this one.) They increase your efficiency, and the bottle can be recycled, but does the fuel efficiency offset the energy needed to recycle the packaging?

Thanks for the tips & reminder -- I'm overdue.

(PS- my capcha is "undershe" ... what does it all mean, Basil?)

Octavine Illustration said...

i love the new blog!~

kim* said...

this is very interesting

Jenn said...

Its funny but I was thinking the same thing about tossing the filter every month. When I was driving a lot for work I still only went in about every 3 or so months for an oil change and even then they didn't always change the filter, sometimes they would bang it out & show me it could go for another couple months. Guess that is all judgement call.

Don't know how I feel about additives. There is a lot of mixed feeling out there (even by different mechanics) that they are either fantastic & totally necessary or a complete waste of money because the ingredients in the additive are already in the gas you buy. I have never used an additive before and have not found my car to run any worse (lower mpg) because of it. Instead I will put in the super plus gas about every 5 or so tanks and tehn do about an hour of highway driving. This helps to blow out teh engine crud as well.

I guess it is all in what we believe to be the best solution (this is one of those times where I would say it is a personal choice trade off...I have many of those when it comes to the environment!) Thanks for opening up the conversation Lucifredika ;)

Hyla Waldron said...

Thank you for mentioning me Jenn!


Matt S said...

In regards to the air filters artjewl recommended, I have to say she's totally on target with them. I used them before, and I got an extra 3-5 MPG (a VW Passat which averaged 32MPG around town and up to 40MPG on the highway), my car had more zip, and they are washable, so you can re-use them almost indefinitely. They cost 2-3 times what an ordinary air filter would, but with the gas and waste savings, they are worth the premium price.