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    Vehicle Maintenance

    All vehicles, new or old, require regular maintenance to operate at their optimum emission levels. Check your owner's manual to determine exactly what should be done and how often, since many newer vehicles require less frequent maintenance than older vehicles. Additionally, be aware of maintenance requirements under the manufacturer's warranty.

    Performing regular tune-ups is the best way to keep your car or truck running efficiently. Typically, a tune-up might include the replacement of the air filter, fuel filter, hoses, belts, spark plugs, oil filter and other fluids. Additionally, items that should be checked and/or replaced regularly throughout the life of your vehicle include: tires, fuel injection system, brakes, transmission and the emission control systems.

    The improper functioning of any of these parts or systems can result in loss of fuel economy. The use of more fuel than necessary or improper fuel combustion will lead to additional emissions coming from your vehicle.

    You can significantly reduce pollution from your car or truck by driving less; improving your driving habits; making sure your vehicle is well-maintained; and, if you’re thinking of buying a used vehicle, making sure its emission-control system is running properly.

    Here are some tips to keep in mind:

    During driving:

    • Reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled. This is the most effective strategy in lowering vehicle emissions. It includes carpooling/van pooling, telecommuting, riding public transportation and planning ahead to combine trips.
    • Avoid excessive idling. Idling for more than 30 seconds burns more gas than it takes to restart the engine.
    • Avoid drive-through windows, take advantage of staggered work schedules and drive during off-peak traffic hours.
    • Avoid drag. Remove heavy items from your vehicle when possible and avoid carrying items on the roof. The drag created by excess weight can reduce your fuel efficiency.
    • Do not “top off” your gas tank. This leads to additional evaporative emissions, or even spills.

    During maintenance:

    • Perform routine maintenance according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Replace oil and filters at recommended times, using an energy-saving grade of motor oils (labeled EC or Energy Conserving). You might be surprised to learn that the emissions from one poorly maintained vehicle can equal those from 25 properly functioning vehicles!
    • Don’t tamper with your vehicle’s emission controls and be sure to get your vehicle inspected annually.
    • Pay attention to a loss in fuel economy. This usually signals an increase in emissions.
    • Watch for signals from your vehicle’s tailpipe that your car or truck may be running inefficiently. Black smoke means there is too much gas in the air-fuel mixture and the fuel injection system should be checked. Blue smoke means the engine is burning oil and too many hydrocarbons are being released.
    • Pay attention to dashboard lights that warn of engine problems. Newer vehicles are equipped with on board diagnostic equipment - under-the-hood computers with dashboard displays, altering drivers to malfunctioning emission control equipment. Travel at steady speeds. Acceleration causes more emissions.
    • Keep your tires properly inflated to ensure maximum fuel efficiency.
    • Check your vehicle’s wheel alignment and adjust as necessary. Incorrect alignment can waste fuel.
    • Make sure that your gas cap fits properly. This helps prevent gasoline vapors from escaping into the air.