Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint

These days, most drivers are aware of the fuel efficiency of their cars. They have a general sense of the miles per gallon they get, and they know how that mileage impacts their wallets, especially when they pull up to the gas pump. But are you aware of your car’s carbon footprint, and how its carbon footprint can contribute to air pollution in your area and the environment as a whole?

According to the EPA, a carbon footprint is a measure of “a vehicle’s impact on climate change in tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually.” In simpler language, it’s a measure of a car’s emissions. Automotive emissions have been a concern for decades, especially in regions like Southern California, where car emissions have contributed to extensive amounts of air pollution in cities like Los Angeles. Other cities with air-quality problems include Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Sacramento, and Cleveland. In addition, carbon dioxide can affect the ozone in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

So how can you determine your car’s carbon footprint? The EPA makes it simple by rating every car according to the tons of carbon it emits annually. Generally, a car’s carbon footprint relates directly to its fuel efficiency, with the burning of one gallon of gasoline contributing to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That means fuel-efficient cars like the Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic Hybrid (above), the Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the Ford Escape Hybrid have low carbon footprints. According to the EPA, the Prius emits 4 tons of carbon dioxide a year, the Honda Civic Hybrid emits 4.4 tons, the Camry Hybrid emits 5.4 tons, and the Ford Escape Hybrid emits 6.6 tons annually.

Similarly, compact and sub-compacts like the Toyota Yaris (5.7 tons), the MINI Cooper (5.7 tons), the Toyota Corolla (5.9 tons), and the Ford Focus (6.6 tons) also have relatively low carbon footprints. On the high end, the Lincoln Town Car emits 10.2 tons per year, the Audi S6 emits 11.4 tons, the Ford Explorer 4WD emits 12.2 tons, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG emits 13.1 tons, and the Bentley Arnage RL emits 16.6 tons annually.

Obviously, the best way to reduce your car’s carbon footprint is to choose a more efficient car when you’re purchasing a new vehicle. However, no matter which car you drive, you can take certain measures to reduce your car’s carbon footprint. For instance, you can keep the tires properly inflated, change your air filter regularly, avoid sudden acceleration, keep the air conditioning turned off as much as possible, and keep the car at 55 miles per hour on the highway. Of course, you could also car pool to work, ride a bike, or take public transportation whenever possible.

Finally, in a recent meeting with top automotive executives in an attempt to reduce car emissions, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger identified a number of strategies that go “beyond the tailpipe,” according to the San Diego Times-Union. These strategies include synchronizing traffic signals so cars idle less, equipping more cars with GPS systems to they can avoid congested areas, and removing older, less efficient cars from the roads. All good ideas — and all valid goals as drivers, automakers, and governments work together to reduce carbon emissions.

1 Comment

  1. There is a serious misconception that the emissions issue is purely at government or commercial level. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Each individual household is responsible for ensuring that their vehicle is in top condition. Failure to do so means that motorists are increasing their carbon footprint, which, of course, means that there is more pressure or global warming. The check engine light is the first indication that something is wrong, followed by a sluggish response and sometimes even misfires. Motorists will also start noticing a significant increase in their fuel bill. It is imperative to have the check engine light checked out. A diagnostic is usually done on the vehicle to see what the problem is.

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