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How to Make Your Car Use Less Fuel and Last Longer

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The average life of a car is 11 years, according to research firm R.L. Polk. This life expectancy can be extended if you make the right choices in parts, maintenance and driving habits. What’s even better? The right choices are green; they lessen the impact of pollution and waste. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reports transportation makes up for 30 percent of the United States global warming emissions. Global warming endangers our health and puts our food and water supply at risk. Follow these practical guidelines to ensure your vehicle lasts beyond its expiration date, while saving the earth.

Lighten Your Load

It’s a common misconception that eco-conscious choice are expensive and impractical. According to UCS, monitoring the fuel economy of your vehicle tells you how your car is running and if it needs attention.

To maximize fuel economy, do not carry weight in your vehicle you don’t need, as every additional 100 pounds results in a 1 to 2 percent decrease in fuel economy. Approximately 50 percent of your car’s energy is spent overcoming wind resistance, according to “Your Guide to Eco-Driving.” So, the heavier your vehicle, the more resistance it must overcome.

Use Only OEM Parts

When you take your car for repairs and maintenance, ask your mechanic if he uses aftermarket parts, which are made by companies other than the manufacturer. Most major car manufacturers don’t support aftermarket parts, which means they could void parts of your warranty. For example, Honda has stated it doesn’t support the use of aftermarket parts in collision repair. The company cited the need for safety, as well as energy efficiency, as the reasons for adhering to OEM parts during vehicle maintenance.

OEM parts tend to cost more than aftermarket parts, but they could save thousands in repairs down the road. Ford recently conducted tests comparing OEM parts and aftermarket parts and found repair costs to a replaced bumper skyrocketed from $3,800 to $5,000 with the use of the copycat part.

Slow Down, Turn Down A/C

This tip is completely free and will save money while reducing your carbon footprint. Slowing down can decrease your carbon dioxide emissions while also increasing your fuel efficiency. AAA suggests decreasing speed by about 10 mph to see maximum effects.

GE’s guide to eco-driving also cautions you to avoid accelerating and braking harshly, as this can use up 30 percent more fuel, plus it’s easier on your brakes and tires. Take care of your tires by checking the pressure regularly and updating them when they are worn. High-quality tires can greatly improve your fuel efficiency. Additionally, use the air conditioning sparingly. In the hottest months, the cooling system in your vehicle can use up to one gallon of fuel per tank to cool your car. This kind of use can add up pretty quickly, resulting in increased emissions, as well as costly trips to the gas station to fill up.

Saving money and making your car last beyond its years is a breeze when you make the greenest choices possible. You don’t need to work any harder than you already do. Just make smarter, more efficient choices, and simplify your life.

Karen Holly, the author of this post, has been an insurance agent for more than 10 years and shares her auto, life and home insurance expertise on her company’s blog.

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