Tips: Car Maintenance

Not only do vehicles generate air pollutants that are harmful to the environment, but vehicle maintenance also creates wastes including used oil, antifreeze, batteries, and old tires. Proper maintenance of your car, truck or van and proper waste disposal can help reduce the impact of vehicles on the environment.

  • Winterize your vehicle by checking your air filter and fluid levels, checking tires for tread wear and proper inflation, and checking the condition of your windshield wipers. Be sure to check your car for drips and leaks. Properly maintaining your vehicle will reduce pollution and replacement parts, and help you keep safe on the road.
  • If you change your own motor oil, collect and store the used oil in a sturdy plastic container and take it to a recycling center. Dumping oil down storm drains or on the ground can contaminate ground water. Also consider using refined oil in your vehicle.
  • Purchase extended-life antifreeze for your car. Most extended-life coolants do not contain silicates and phosphates -- common in conventional antifreeze -- that can be abrasive to water pump seals. Take your used antifreeze to a recycling center. Call auto stores and your local government environmental agency to find the recycling center nearest you.
  • Take used or damaged car batteries to auto stores that stock or repair lead-acid batteries for safe disposal. The batteries contain toxic amounts of lead and acid. They are banned from many solid waste collection programs and all municipal solid waste landfills.
  • Return used car tires to retailers or wholesalers that recycle or retread them. Tires are banned from most landfills, and illegally dumped tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests.
  • Join or form car/vanpools for traveling to work or school. Fewer cars on the road means less pollution in the environment.
  • Make sure your car has a clean air filter -- a dirty air filter can increase your car's fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent.
  • Instead of disposing of a low-value car, offer it to charitable institutions in your area. The gift will be tax-deductible.

Tips from EPA.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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