Out and About
Maintain Your Vehicle
With a properly tuned engine and regular scheduled maintenance, you can reduce your car’s emissions and improve gas mileage up to 9 percent, which can save you up to 16 cents per gallon of fuel used. If you repair a serious maintenance problem, the savings can be much greater. Annual Savings: $96 or substantially more*
Check Your Tire Pressure
Tires lose pressure over time, so check the pressure on all four of your tires once a 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. By keeping your tires at their recommended pressure, they’ll last longer, they’ll improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent, and you’ll be safer on the road.
Replace Air Filters
Check the air filter in your vehicle and replace it regularly. Clogged air filters impact your vehicle’s acceleration.
Pay Attention to the “Check Engine” Light
If your “check engine” light is on, get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible. By keeping your engine tuned, you can reduce emissions, as well as help increase gas mileage. Driving a vehicle that is in need of maintenance or repair can increase emissions and cost you $600 more in gas each year.
Change Your Oil
By following the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule and using the recommended grade of motor oil for your vehicle, you can improve fuel economy. You save money by improving your vehicle’s performance and extending its life, while also reducing emissions.
* Based on driving 15,000 miles per year at 25 miles per gallon.
Take Care of Your Tires
Over 51,666 tons of tires were sent to Texas landfills last year! Reduce the number of tires you use by taking care of the ones you have. Test your tire tread monthly using the ‘penny test’. Insert a penny upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread is too low. When you can no longer use the tires, make sure to dispose of them properly. Visit Earth911.com to find a recycling center near you.
Refuel at the Right Time
Refuel in the late afternoon and evening, which reduces the likelihood of ground-level ozone formation. When filling your vehicle’s gas tank, don’t top it off, which can allow fuel to escape as vapor and also increases the chance for spilling gas. After you finish filling up, make sure you properly tighten the gas cap; otherwise, gas will evaporate from your car’s tank.
Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner use. If you expect to idle for more than 30 seconds, park your vehicle, turn it off, and go inside. Whether you’re at a restaurant, at a bank, or anywhere else you might wait in line, avoid unnecessary idling by parking and turning off your vehicle. You’ll dramatically reduce your fuel costs and help keep the air clean.
To reduce air emissions, you can carpool with a coworker, use public transit, or simply combine errands when possible. By ride-sharing every day, commuters can save up to $3,400 a year on gas, reduced maintenance costs, and insurance. Removing one properly maintained passenger car from the road for one year would save an average of 17 pounds of nitrogen oxides from being discharged into the air. Annual Savings: $3,400
Recycle Used Motor Oil
To produce 2.5 quarts of motor oil, it takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of recycled oil. Whenever you change your oil or other vehicle fluids at home, make sure you recycle them. And never pour used motor oil down storm drains, because the drains will carry the oil directly to Texas waterways. The used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water-a year's supply for 50 people. Find a recycling center near you.
Buy a "Cleaner" Vehicle
The next time you’re shopping for a vehicle, consider the benefits of one with a high fuel-economy rating. Here’s how much you could save per year if you switch from a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon to a more fuel-efficient car or truck:
- 25 mpg: $500
- 30 mpg: $900
- 35 mpg: $1,100
- 40 mpg: $1,300
- 45 mpg: $1,500
- 50 mpg: $1,600
In some communities, the TCEQ offers assistance for individuals who need to repair or replace older vehicles.
Drive the Speed Limit
By slowing down and avoiding aggressive driving, you can improve your fuel economy by 7-40 percent if driving in town, or by up to 30 percent on the highway. Slowing down and keeping to the speed limit also helps keep the air clean. Typically for every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 mph, it’s like paying an additional 16 cents per gallon for gas. Using cruise control on the highway helps maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save you gas. Annual Savings: $96 to $552
Lighten the Load
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mpg by up to 1 percent. Hauling cargo on your roof increases wind resistance and lowers fuel economy. A large, blunt roof-top cargo box, for example, can reduce fuel economy by around 2 to 8 percent in city driving, 6 to 17 percent on the highway, and 10 percent to 25 percent at Interstate speeds. If you need to use an external cargo container, removing it when it's not in use will save fuel and money. Annual Savings: $30 to $234
Drive a Clean Machine
To help replace older, more polluting vehicles from Texas roadways in counties with high ground-level ozone, and reduce emissions from vehicles that are already on the road, the TCEQ offers help to replace and repair vehicles through the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Program. Eligible individuals in 16 Texas counties can receive financial assistance to replace vehicles that are more than 10 years old, or to help repair vehicles that have failed an emissions test. Visit www.driveacleanmachine.org to find out more about how you might qualify.