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Leaving The Fast Lane

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We want cleaner air, but we also want to drive to work or our vacation.

Vehicles are a significant source of pollution. And with the price of gas now exceeding a dollar a litre in many parts of the country, it just makes sense to change a few habits to save money while improving the fuel efficiency of the family car.

The environmental cost of personal transportation

Whenever your vehicle is using fuel, it produces emissions including greenhouse gases (GHGs). Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a primary GHG, and the amount of CO2 your vehicle generates depends on the amount and type of fuel used.

For every litre of gasoline used, about 2.4 kg of CO2 are produced; for every litre of diesel, about 2.7 kg of CO2 are produced. The good news is that there are many things you can do to decrease your GHG numbers, save gas and reduce your impact on the environment.

Get pumped about tires

Under-inflated tires means your vehicle isn't driving as smoothly as it should, which decreases your vehicle's fuel efficiency and produces greater greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially true in urban areas where poor air quality, like smog, is prevalent. In fact, driving your vehicle with just one tire under-inflated by eight pounds per square inch can reduce the life of your tires by a whopping 15,000 kilometres.

Once a month, you should check your vehicle's tire pressure is correct.

Easy on the gas and the brake

Abandon dreams of being a racecar driver out on the open road. Cruising at the speed limit allows you to take in all of the scenery and cut your gas consumption. With most vehicles, revving up your engine from 100 km/h to 120 km/h will burn 20 percent more gas.

Some drivers leave their left foot resting on the brake pedal while driving. This habit decreases fuel efficiency and wears out the brakes prematurely. It also can be dangerous because it causes heat build-up in the brakes, which reduces braking power. In addition, this means the brake lights stay on all the time and the poor souls travelling behind have no warning when the driver actually applies the brakes to slow down or stop.

Rent a greener car

If your regular ride is a bit of a gas hog, consider reducing your environmental footprint by renting a hybrid for your next road trip. Many companies are now offering these vehicles along with their regular fleet. They’re cleaner and quieter, and the visit to the pump is much less traumatic.

A hybrid vehicle combines the conventional gas engine with a battery. In city traffic, energy stored in the battery powers the vehicle, virtually using no gasoline. On the open road, the gas engine kicks in, but the rate of fuel efficiency is high.

Driving Tips

  • Drive smartly Avoid rapid acceleration and heavy braking. Driving aggressively can lower fuel mileage by as much as 37 percent. Slow down to save gas, and smell the fresh air instead of emissions.
  • Minimize drag Remove roof and rear-mounted racks when they are not needed. A loaded roof rack can increase gas consumption by up to five per cent. Even empty racks increase aerodynamic drag and reduce fuel efficiency.
  • Hot weather Even if your automobile is serviced regularly, be sure to have it inspected before a major road trip in warm weather and advise your technician of your travel plans, such as whether you’re headed to the mountains or towing a trailer.
  • Cold weather Snow building up in wheel wells and under bumpers adds weight and rubs against tires, further increasing rolling resistance. And snow piled on top of the vehicle increases aerodynamic drag and vehicle weight. For safety as well as fuel efficiency, clear snow off your vehicle before you drive away.
Environment Canada's website is the source of this article:  

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