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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately1220pm (central) every Wednesday at or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: A properly maintained vehicle will last longer, pollute less and save fuel.

There are many reasons to practice good vehicle maintenance and to take steps to reduce your vehicle’s impact on the environment and public health. A properly maintained vehicle will last longer, pollute less and save fuel.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Avoid excessive idling. Excessive idling wastes fuel and can actually reduce the life of your vehicle. Newer vehicles are designed to warm up in 30 seconds or less, even in cold weather. Turn your engine off if you’re waiting for an extended period of time. Contrary to popular myth you typically don’t use more fuel restarting your vehicle. If you wait over 10 seconds to restart your vehicle, you are saving fuel.
  • Don’t top off your tank. Fuel spilled when your tank is over-filled usually evaporates and pollutes the air. Topping off also produces excessive gasoline vapors that contribute to bad ozone days and are a source of toxic air pollutants such as benzene. Remember you pay for the gas that evaporates or is spilled on the ground.
  • Care for your tires. Keep your wheels aligned and your tires properly inflated to increase fuel efficiency and make them last longer. Studies show that a 7 psi under-inflation can result in 10% increase in rolling resistance. Under inflated tires can lower gas mileage up to 1 mile per gallon. Check the tire pressure once a month.
  • Combine errands to make fewer trips. Your vehicle burns more gas and pollutes more in the first few minutes after a cold start then when warmed up and operated for longer periods. Combine trips or seek alternative modes of transportation like walking, biking or public transit.
  • Watch your speed. The average vehicle loses nearly two percent in gas mileage for every mile per hour over 55. Driving at high speeds also causes tires to wear out sooner because rubber breaks down faster at higher temperatures.
  • Drive smoothly. Over-accelerating and braking quickly are hard on your vehicle. If you can drive smoothly, you’ll save up to two miles per gallon. Fast starts use up to 50 percent more gas than slower starts.
  • Travel light. Clear out the trunk. For every 50 pounds of stuff you’re carrying around, you lose 1/4 miles per gallon.
  • Don’t ignore the light. In newer vehicles, the check engine light on your dashboard will turn on if the on-board computer on tour vehicle senses something is awry with your emission control equipment. Visit your mechanic and have your vehicle checked. If you don’t have a check engine light but your card sounds different, is running rough or emitting smoke visit your mechanic sooner rather than later. Small inexpensive repairs can turn into large expensive problems if left unchecked.
  • Recycle your used car products. Most fluids from your car are toxic and must be handled carefully. You can dispose of many used and unwanted car products properly at a household hazardous waste facility. They’ll recycle them or dispose of them safely. Batteries, tires, antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil and oil filters, diesel fuel, brake fluid and automatic transmission fluid can be recycled.
    • Antifreeze is toxic to pets and harmful to humans. Don’t pour it down the drain. Store used antifreeze in its original container.
    • Batteries contain lead and acid that can be recycled. These materials can contaminate ground water if not disposed of properly.
    • Used motor oil can be recycled at the curb in the Portland area. Pour the oil into an unbreakable, see-through container with a screw-on lid like a milk jug. Never pour oil down a household or storm drain where it can travel directly into streams and underground water sources or disrupt waste-treatment facilities.
    • Tires can be recycled but services vary across the state. Never burn tires. Tires emit highly toxic and noxious smoke when burned.

Source: State of Oregon Department of Environmental Control, Fact Sheet, Save Money and Clear the Air

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The Green Samaritan

The mission of The Green Samaritan is two-fold. First, to gather information so you don’t have to, and then pull out and share the best advice, resources and tips. To get you started they have a Quick Start Reference Guide.

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