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Green driving tips

Eight Simple Tips for Green Driving

Michael Kelly

Purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle isn’t the only way to green driving. Simple changes to your vehicle and driving habits can help reduce pollution. This article explains some of the easiest ways you can help make your car greener and safer, while saving some money at the pump.

Green Driving Tips

tire pressure impact on fuel efficiency

Changes to Your Car to Improve Fuel Efficiency

The following alterations and repairs can help make your car greener. If you are not comfortable making these alterations on your own, ask a mechanic to make them at your vehicle’s next servicing.


Check Your Tire PSI

The pressure in your tires impacts your fuel economy.

On average, every 1 PSI drop reduces gas mileage by 0.2%. Tires inflated to the correct PSI can increase fuel economy by .6 to three percent.

Never inflate your tires to the maximum PSI printed on the tire. Instead, look for your car’s tire PSI sticker. You can find this in the driver-side door jam or the owner’s manual. This sticker has the correct PSI for your vehicle’s tires. Note that the front and back tires may have different optimal pressure levels.


Use the Correct Oil

Be sure to check what grade motor oil your vehicle needs.

Using the correct oil in your vehicle can improve your fuel economy by one to two percent. The wrong oil can lower your gas mileage in an equal amount. Don’t use “high-performance” oil that isn’t a match for your vehicle. Also, use “energy conserving” oil when possible. Energy conserving oil contains friction-reducing additives. These additives can help improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.


Get the Junk out of Your Trunk

Added weight can decrease your vehicle’s fuel economy.

An extra 100 pounds of cargo can reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy by 1%. Rooftop cargo containers and racks can reduce fuel economy even more, sometimes by as much as 25%. Be sure to remove roof racks and storage containers not in use, or switch to a rear-mount cargo box. Rear-mount cargo boxes still reduce fuel economy, but only by 1 or 2%.


Should You Change Your Air Filter?

It is often recommended that you change your air filter to increase fuel efficiency.

If your car predates the 1980s, then it most likely has a carbureted engine. If it does, changing your air filter can increase fuel efficiency and acceleration. Most cars manufactured after the 1980s have fuel-injected, computer-controlled engines. Changing the air filter in these cars may improve acceleration but not gas mileage.

Driving For Better Fuel Efficiency

Simple changes to driving habits can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Most of these changes will also help increase safety for you and others on the road. Best of all, you don’t need a mechanic to start reaping the benefits.


Don’t Drive Aggressively

Aggressive driving is operating a vehicle in an unsafe and erratic way.

This includes fast acceleration, short stopping and revving your engine. Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by as much as 30% when driving on the highway. If you drive aggressively in stop-and-go traffic, you may see a reduction in fuel economy by as much as 40%.

You can break the bad habit of aggressive driving. Here are a few tips:

  • Maintain three seconds of distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you (or more if the weather is bad). If the vehicle in front of you passes a tree, it should take three seconds before you pass that tree. This will help ensure that you have enough time to adjust speeds or stop in response to the driver in front of you.
  • Try to roll to stop signs and red lights. Don’t continue accelerating and then stomp on your brakes. This will wear out your brakes much sooner and reduce your miles per gallon.
  • Install a driver feedback device. These devices track your driving habits and can help you improve your driving behavior–and therefore, your fuel economy.


Use Cruise Control

You can help improve your gas mileage by using cruise control on long stretches of driving.

Cruise control is ideal if you’re traveling on the highway for a long distance and there are very few cars around. It’s not recommended to use cruise control on hilly terrain. This is because the vehicle will have trouble navigating the hills and it will waste more fuel.

Some newer vehicles are being equipped with updated cruise control devices. These devices maintain distance between your car and the car in front of it. This will slow down your vehicle as it gets closer to the vehicle in front of you. The device will then adjust to and maintain the same speed as the vehicle in front of you.


Drive 50 Miles per Hour

Fuel economy plummets when your vehicle accelerates past 50 to 60 mph.

For each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph you pay, on average, $.16 more per gallon of gas. Speeds below 50 mph all seem to have the same fuel efficiency. Driving 40 mph on back-roads may help you save on gas compared to driving 65 mph on the highway.


Roll the windows down or use the AC?

There is much debate over the fuel efficiency of rolling your windows down or turning on the AC.

Some people say rolling your windows down and turning the AC off helps improve mileage. This is because your vehicle is not using energy to run the AC. Other people say it’s best to roll the windows up and turn the AC on. Doing this reduces drag. Some people will say to keep windows down and AC off at low speeds and turn the AC on and roll the windows up at high speeds.

What Is the Best Green Driving Option?

best green driving option

A test performed by General Motors and SAE gave a conclusive answer. The test found that AC off and windows down is always more fuel-efficient than windows up and AC on. It didn’t matter what speed the vehicle was driving at. Windows up and AC off, however, is still by far the most fuel-efficient option for driving.

Find an compare the fuel economy on cars from 1984 to the present at

Driving safely and spending less money at the pump are two of the benefits to making your car greener. You can also enjoy knowing that you’re helping to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution. Talk to your mechanic about ways to increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and be sure to practice fuel efficient driving habits.

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26 Responses to "Eight Simple Tips for Green Driving"
    • Alma Truman. | May 10, 2019 at 3:28 am

      I already drive that way, so I printed it out and give to some of my friends that don’t, maybe it will save a life sometime.

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 10, 2019 at 12:23 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Alma!

    • Shirley Watters | April 29, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks for the info. I always wondered about the window/AC debate. Thank you for clearing that up!

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm

        Thanks for reading, Shirley!

    • Gerardo J. Garcia | April 28, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      Interesting information. Thank you.

    • Donald Hoffman | April 28, 2019 at 9:57 am

      Most valuable reminder. Fits into and with what I’d want to transmit to 55 + community to help our environment.

    • Perry kizer | April 27, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      My car has so many new features such as eye-sight cruise control, blind spot monitors, back-up monitoring of people or cars approaching behind me and so much more. I love these items but never assume anything. When are you going to determine these items save lives so when will you pass theses savings onto your policy holders. Have asked that now for last few years and it seems you don’t believe these factors benefits me and you.

    • Richard L Case | April 27, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Do not let your car run to warm it up.Cars are built to start and go

    • Michael Spaulding | April 27, 2019 at 12:13 am

      Good advice except about hybrids and All- electric cars. While possibly green, such cars will costs more than a small efficient gasoline powered vehicle. Even with rebates they will require over 100000 miles to recovery the cost of purchase due to high battery and drive train prices.

      There is also still a ongoing debate about the toxic problems associated with the batteries and other components.

    • Virginia Pennington | April 26, 2019 at 5:57 pm

      I’ve been driving for 60+ years & just learned a couple new tips. Thanks for the info.

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 29, 2019 at 12:55 pm

        Thanks for reading, Virginia!

    • Deborah Webster | April 26, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you for the information! I found it very helpful!!

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 26, 2019 at 5:46 pm

        Thank you for reading Deborah!

    • alvin watters | April 26, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      I already knew that but thanks anyway.

    • Annie Gibbs | April 25, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      Very helpful

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 25, 2019 at 9:46 pm

        Thanks for your feedback, Annie!

    • david rooker | April 25, 2019 at 5:30 am

      i agree with all the info put forth.

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 25, 2019 at 11:10 am

        We appreciate your feedback, David.

    • KATHLEEN BUSCH | April 24, 2019 at 11:19 pm


      • Extra Mile Staff | April 25, 2019 at 11:10 am

        Thank you for reading, Kathleen!

    • Walter J. Fleck | April 24, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      In mild weather I drive with the outside air on (no re-circulation) and the sunroof open. No AC. Less drag and cool fresh air.

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 25, 2019 at 11:10 am

        Great tip for some summer driving, Walter! Thank you for sharing.

    • Al H Schrader | April 24, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Useful info.

      • Extra Mile Staff | April 25, 2019 at 11:09 am

        Thank you for reading, Al!

    • charlotte m. ruff | March 21, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      Helpful. Thanks.

    • charlotte m. ruff | March 21, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      Helpful info. Thanks.

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