top of page

Can You Make Your Old Car More Environmentally Friendly?

Most people associate old cars with poor fuel economy, thinking they'll have to constantly refill an older car with gas.

But an interesting study by the Kyushu University in Japan found that while newer cars typically produce fewer CO2 emissions on the road, when you take the amount of energy it takes to build these vehicles into account, the scales are shifted and can even make an older environmentally friendly car a better option in some situations.

But to make the most of your older car, there are still things you can do to make it more eco-friendly. While it may not compare with the most eco friendly car models, such as plug-in hybrids with regenerative braking in terms of vehicle emissions, there are simple steps you can take to improve your miles per gallon and help the environment in the process.

In this article, let's look at some of the best approaches that will help you drive a more environmentally friendly car without having to upgrade to a newer model.

Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly and Efficient

In some situations, scrapping your car can be the most environmentally-friendly thing you could do. But if your vehicle is still in pretty good driving condition and you don't want to waste a ton of resources that come with buying modern green vehicles, there are things you can do to reduce your car's energy consumption when driving.

Let's explore some of the best methods for making an eco friendly car of your old vehicle.

Avoid Aggressive Driving

The way you drive your car on a daily basis can have a considerable impact on how much fuel you use. And it will also likely determine how quickly different components of your car will wear down, potentially requiring expensive repairs that might force you to think about whether it's time to junk your car. That's because

rapid acceleration and braking tend to worsen fuel efficiency and put a lot of strain on your car parts.

To avoid these issues, you should reconsider whether the aggressive maneuvering is really enhancing your driving or helping you get where you want faster, or if it might even make your rides less safe, putting you and your family at more risk of getting into accidents.

Therefore, the best thing you could do to have an environmentally friendly car is to drive with less sudden actions, using more gradual acceleration and braking in situations where that's possible.

Mind Your Speed

Another easy method environmentally friendly car drivers can utilize is minding their speed in different situations. By making sure you always drive under the speed limit, you can dramatically reduce the fuel your car uses and the environmental impact through emissions.

In fact, for every five mph you add above 50 mph, you are likely to pay $0.27 more per gallon of gas.

Today, many countries are implementing speed restrictions not just to increase safety but to help drivers save on gas and reduce pollution. You can take a proactive approach and mind how fast you drive, which will help you save money every month while also allowing your old car to instantly become much better for the environment.

Don't Skip Maintenance

One of the easiest ways to extend your car's life and make it as eco-friendly as possible is to ensure that you're servicing your vehicle at regular intervals.

For example, it's crucial to change the engine oil according to the car manufacturer's instructions. The same goes for the critical filters that help reduce the emissions your car releases.

Otherwise, your car will not only perform worse and wear down faster but also become much more harmful to the environment, releasing compounds into the atmosphere that can even be a health hazard to nearby people.

Check Your Tires

If you want an instant boost when making a more environmentally friendly car from your old vehicle, you can achieve that by regularly checking your tire pressure and ensuring that it stays within the recommendations.

Tires on today's cars are optimized to roll smoothly at a certain pressure, and anything below that will impact friction and resistance, which means your tires and the entire car will need to work harder when building momentum and accelerating.

You don't need to check your tire pressure every day or even every week, but doing it every few weeks or every month will ensure that you maintain good tire pressure and enjoy more miles per gallon while also positively impacting the environment.

Wash Your Car with Eco-Friendly Materials

It's important to regularly wash your car to prevent rust and the wearing down of different exterior elements, as it can help increase your car's lifespan. But even though it's important, maintaining an eco-friendly vehicle requires you to be mindful about what types of cleaning materials you use so that you don't pollute the wash water that ends up in the ground.

It's also vital for an environmentally friendly car owner to be mindful of their water usage in a typical car wash. It's very easy to waste upwards of a hundred gallons of water per wash, especially when washing with a hose, so you need to consider how to fully utilize your wash kit and reduce your water use.

You could even consider utilizing commercial car washes, which tend to be more optimized and can use a few times less water than a typical owner would at home. However, if you still want to wash the car yourself, think about using waterless products such as sprays, which will minimize the amount of soapy water you will need. Also, always dispose of the dirty water in a way that won't harm the surrounding nature or underground water sources.

Decrease Your Load

The car's weight has a deciding impact on its energy consumption and fuel economy. After all, the bigger the load, the more power is required to get it moving at a certain speed.

But while there's little you can do about the default weight of your car or the weight of passengers you're driving, you can rethink how much you need to take with you everywhere you go.

Many people tend to haul around a lot of unnecessary items in the trunk of their car that they rarely or never use. Unfortunately, all those pounds add up quickly and can put more strain on your vehicle while significantly worsening how much fuel an internal combustion engine will need when driving.

Limit AC Use

The addition of air conditioning in modern vehicles has completely changed travel in hot weather. What used to be an unbearable journey has become something most people don't even think about.

However, while it's clear there are instances when AC is essential, there are situations where it makes sense to be mindful of using it.

Air conditioning can increase fuel consumption by 10-20 percent, which is quite a lot when you consider the current gas prices and the environmental impact that an extra gallon can have.

To reduce the impact, simply crack open the window in situations when the weather isn't too hot. Sometimes, you just need a light breeze to make your ride comfortable, saving you a lot of fuel over the long run while also helping you make a more environmentally friendly car of your old vehicle.

How Long Should You Keep Your Car

As you've probably seen at this point, you can do a lot with an older car when you make a few simple changes in how you drive and take care of your current vehicle. And in many cases, driving an older car and not wasting the resources of a new electric or hybrid vehicle being manufactured can be a positive for the environment on its own.

That being said, there will come a time when keeping your current car will simply not make sense if you want to be an environmentally friendly car owner.

For example, your car will start having more severe breakdowns as it gets older. And at some point, the repairs it requires will get close to or even exceed the car's value. At that point, you will likely need to make the decision to let the car go and sell it to a reputable junk car buyer, using the money you earn to buy a more environmentally friendly car.

Another important factor you should consider is whether your car is still safe on the road. Your and your family's safety should be a top priority, so if your vehicle is behind in safety features compared to newer hybrid or electric vehicles, it's probably time to consider an upgrade.

Bottom Line

Even though hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming more accessible, some people don't have the option to switch immediately. And when you consider that producing new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles leaves a massive carbon footprint, getting your old car to last longer might be the wiser choice.

With the help of the tips above, you should be able to make most types of vehicles more fuel efficient, reducing tailpipe emissions and their energy impact, as well as the amount of harmful materials you release in the atmosphere.


bottom of page