2018-04-15 / News

How drivers can make road trip season more eco-friendly

Many drivers anxiously await the arrival of spring, when they can rev their engines and enjoy the burgeoning greenscapes synonymous with the season. Though the colors of fall foliage might be more closely associated with road trips, many drivers enjoy the first few warm days of spring when they get a chance to hit the open road with their windows down for the first time in months.

Driving is not always the most eco-friendly activity. However, there are various ways to enjoy spring road trips without compromising the environment.

• Do not idle your vehicle. When engines are running but cars are not moving, this is referred to as “idling.” It’s hard to blame drivers for idling their vehicles in winter, when many motorists try to warm up their engines and their vehicles’ interiors so their morning commutes are as comfortable as possible. Idling cars might not be moving, but they are still burning fuel, meaning drivers who routinely idle their vehicles are adversely affecting fuel efficiency. It’s also important to note that idling is no longer necessary in modern vehicles. That’s because the electronic fuel injection systems in today’s cars require just a few seconds to get full oil pressure throughout the engine. Such systems were not present in older vehicles.

• Take it easy on the road. Road trips tend to be more enjoyable and are certainly safer when drivers take their time and don’t rush to their destination. And driving slowly happens to be more eco-friendly as well. According to the online automotive resource Edmunds.com, gently gaining speed is much more fuel-efficient than accelerating quickly. Always obey speed limits and avoid quickly accelerating when stoplights turn green.

• Empty the trunk. During winter, many drivers understandably carry some extra items in their trunk to account for inclement weather. Keeping ice scrapers, extra coolant or even a snow shovel in the trunk might make sense for drivers who live in regions that routinely encounter heavy snowfall. When spring arrives, drivers should remove any unnecessary items from their trunks. Such items will increase the weight of the vehicle, thereby reducing its fuel efficiency. Athletes and outdoors enthusiasts should also remove golf bags and sporting equipment from their trunks when taking trips where such items won’t be needed.

• Don’t top off at the gas pump. Many drivers, especially those on road trips who want to avoid extra stops at the filling station, top off their gas tanks when nozzles shut off automatically. Such a practice is harmful to the planet and may not be doing your vehicle any favors, either. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes gasoline needs some extra room in gas tanks to expand. Without that extra room, the gas may evaporate into the vehicle’s vapor collection system, adversely affecting emissions and potentially damaging the vehicle.

Motorists can employ several simple strategies to make spring road trip season more eco-friendly.

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