ASK GARY: What should I consider while driving this Earth Day?
Today is Earth Day, and it judging by the weather, it seems like Mother Earth is celebrating with us! As automobile owners, our choices and driving habits can have a significant effect on the environment, as they will also largely determine the choices and habits of our children. Today is a great day to take the initiative on cleaning up outside litter, buying organic local food , and turning off unused lights, but is also a chance to reflect on the way we do and perceive things.
A great thing that consumers are changing their minds over is the viability of hybrid vehicles. A recent study found that hybrid sales in 2012 were 40% more than in the previous year. I’m also very proud to say that Toyota has sold its 5 millionth hybrid, and has captured over 1/3rd of the hybrid vehicle market. Of course, there are many great non-Toyota hybrids on the market, and recent technological strides have made plug-in electric vehicles a viable option as well. For anyone thinking about purchasing a new vehicle, I’d recommend keeping an open mind about a hybrid or electric vehicle. The Prius C has been receiving many distinctions, from the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award, to awards for its good mileage/low fuel costs and high resale value. Our inventory can be found here, and remember that there are quite a few unexpected perks to owning a hybrid –for Earth Day, hybrids were allowed to park free in New York City, and given free washes in St. Louis!
Another habit many of us should reconsider is idling. Sometimes we’ll just be getting out of the car to make a quick trip, but the amount of fuel used by 10 seconds of idling is the same amount needed to restart the engine –meaning if you park for more than 30 seconds, you should turn off your engine. Beliefs that engines need time to warm up really only apply to very old cars and diesel engines, as most modern engines do not requires this. Idling engines also combust fuel below the peak temperature, leading to excessive residue build up. While turning off your engine doesn’t make much sense to do while sitting in traffic, the next time you are off running some errands, or run back home because you forgot something, consider turning off the engine.
And of course, making sure your tires are properly inflated can yield a drastic improvement on your fuel efficiency, and keep you safer in case of any emergency. It’s a quick and painless process, and can be done at almost any gas station. I’ve made a video on how to properly check tire pressure, and hope you take a moment to watch it.
If you’re really committed to a successful Earth Day, ride your bike instead of driving today! Maybe even take a walk! And if you have to drive, do it with the A/C off, and the windows down! It’s a myth that open windows decreases fuel efficiency by increasing air resistance, and it’s certainly a nice change of pace to experience weather that makes us happy.
As always, drive safe, and drive green!