The Texas Department of Transportation is rolling out its statewide Drive Clean Texas air quality campaign just in time for the dog days of summer.
The campaign, which runs through the end of August, asks motorists to make simple changes to their driving and vehicle maintenance behaviors in order to reduce car and truck emissions that contribute to air pollution (especially in the hot summer months, when ozone levels spike).
Such changes include: checking tire pressure once a month, get cars tuned up on schedule, driving the speed limit, stopping at the “click” when filling the gas tank
and lightening vehicles’ loads by removing unnecessary items from the trunk or roof rack.
Implementing these changes will help drivers save money at the gas pump, and also keep the air in the Lone Star State clean.
Here are some tips on how to drive clean:
CLEAN AIR TIPS
- Keep your vehicle maintained properly.
Your owner's manual will tell you how often you should change your oil and air filters, service your air conditioner, and get regular engine check-ups. You'll not only be doing the air a favor, but also your vehicle will run better, and you'll save money by getting better gas mileage.
- Check your tire pressure at least once a month.
Tires typically lose about a pound of air pressure every month. The label located on the edge of the driver's door will tell you what tire pressure the manufacturer recommends for your car or truck. When you check your tire pressure, make sure the tires are cold, meaning you haven't driven your vehicle for a couple of hours.
- Keep your tires properly inflated.
So what does tire pressure have to do with air quality? When your tires are low, they produce more drag. More drag makes your engine work harder, and that produces more emissions. Bottom line: the right amount of air inside your tires is good for the air outside your tires.
- Change your oil and air filters regularly.
When your vehicle's filters are very dirty, they can't do the job they're intended to do. That's bad for your engine, and it doesn't do our air any good either. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your vehicle's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
- Use multi-grade "energy-conserving" oil.
Every 3,000 miles (or however often you change your oil), consider multi-grade motor oil labeled "energy conserving." Special additives in the oil help reduce harmful emissions and can improve your vehicle's fuel economy by 5 to 10 percent.
- Stop at the "click."
When you're filling up with gas, don't top off the tank. Fumes escaping from the neck of the tank absorb into the air. Be sure to tighten your vehicle's gas cap all the way, too. A loose gas cap allows gasoline to evaporate and can cost you up to 30 gallons of gas a year to the air.
- Get fuel when it's cool.
Fill up later in the evening when it's not so hot. High temperatures cook gas fumes and turn them into nasty ground-level ozone.
- Travel light.
Carrying around an extra 50 or 100 pounds in your car or truck makes your engine work harder and use more gas. Reduce drag and reduce emissions by removing items from your vehicle that you don't really need to carry around.
DO YOUR PART
The way you drive and maintain your car or truck affects your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and how much you spend on gas. By taking simple steps you can reduce vehicle emissions and save money at the pump.
- Keep Your Car in Shape
Check your tire pressure about once a month.
- Underinflated tires can cost you an extra $90 in gas a year. That’s because low tire pressure produces more drag, which makes your engine work harder. The label located on the edge of the driver’s door will tell you what tire pressure the manufacturer recommends for your car or truck.
Get your car tuned-up on schedule.
- Driving a vehicle that is in need of maintenance can increase emissions and cost you $100 more in gas each year (fueleconomy.gov).
Get regular oil changes, and use energy-conserving oil.
- Special additives in the oil help reduce emissions and can save you $54 in gas each year (fueleconomy.gov).
Take care of serious maintenance problems.
- Repairing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve your gas mileage as much as 40% (fueleconomy.gov).
- Drive Smart
- Driving only 5 MPH over the speed limit on a regular basis can cost you $190 more in gas each year (fueleconomy.gov).
Drive more efficiently.
- Aggressive driving–such as speeding and rapid starts and stops–can cost you as much as $900 more in gas each year (fueleconomy.gov).
Avoid idling at fast food or bank drive-thrus.
- Turning off the car and restarting it uses less gas than idling for 30 seconds or more.
- Carrying around an extra 100 pounds in your car or truck makes your engine work harder and can cost you $50 more in gas each year (fueleconomy.gov).
- Drive Less When You Can
Combine your errands.
- Several short trips, each beginning with a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one longer trip that covers the same distance (fueleconomy.gov).
Carpool, vanpool, or use park-and-ride.
- Lonely drivers put more cars on the road–and more emissions into the air. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters.
- Even if you can’t share rides to the office, consider carpooling with friends to events or on nights out.
Ride a bicycle or walk when possible.
- It’ll help the air, and it is good for your health, too.
- Consider a Hybrid or Electric Car
Check out the many cleaner, low-emission vehicle options.
- The driver of a car that gets 30 MPG pays an average $906 less per year in gas than a driver getting 20 MPG.
- Be Smart at the Pump
Seal your gas cap tightly all the way.
- It may seem like common sense, but not sealing your gas cap allows gasoline to evaporate into thin air.
Don't top off the tank when filling up.
- Stop at the "click" to keep fumes from escaping.
Get fuel when it’s cool: in the late afternoon or evening.
- High temperatures cook gas fumes and turn them into ground-level ozone.