Beyond tailpipe emissions: 7 automotive habits that are killing the planet

    As we go about maintaining our automobiles, we could inadvertently be harming the environment. Here are a few habits that you should avoid.

    Published On Jun 05, 2024 07:30:00 AM


    World Environment day car care tips

    The automotive industry bears the brunt for being a major contributor of global CO2 emissions that’s leading to visible climate change, but tailpipe emissions aside, there are many other habits concerning your vehicle that are harmful to the environment. So, on this occasion of the United Nations’ World Environment Day, here are seven ways in which you can lower the environmental impact of your vehicle and its usage.

    1. Reduce chemical-based car care products

    Car care products such as waxes, polishes and rim cleaners often contain hazardous solvents, alcohol and wetting agents. These eventually run off into the drainage system and seep into the ground and even into ground water sources, thus harming the environment. It is, therefore, important to read the labels on such products and avoid them if they contain harmful substances. Instead, choose products with trusted ecolabels or that are fully biodegradable. These may not be available at your local store, but can be bought online easily. Additionally, encourage your professional service stations/car washers to also use eco-friendly and chemical-free products.

    2. Segregate and treat hazardous waste

    Regular disposables from your car, such as used batteries, used engine and transmission fluids, and old tyres, are hazardous for the environment if not disposed properly. Used batteries containing lead and acid often end up at local landfills, and the corrosive substances can seep into the soil and pollute it; used car fluids end up running off into waterbodies and into the soil through the drainage system without treatment. It is, therefore, important to segregate such hazardous waste for treatment and safe disposal. Segregation also helps in recycling of components such as used tyres and select plastics. Additionally, take your vehicle to garages that treat waste water, in order to separate oils and sediments, before they discharge it into the sewage system.  

    3. Use a bucket to wash your car

    As convenient as it may be to wash your car with a pressurised hose pipe, it is usually a very wasteful method. Pressurised washers use a lot more water than is usually required, and water is, of course, an invaluable resource. So, unless your car is enveloped in grime, you can resort to using a bucket and a used rag for your regular TLC. If you are opting for commercial car washes, consider the ones offering waterless options. Moreover, people washing cars in streams and rivers is a very common sight in our country, but such practices should be avoided as it pollutes the water with oil, which ultimately affects all life-forms downstream.

    4. Shed extra weight

    Weight-saving measures are often associated with improving a car’s performance, but it can also go a long way in improving your vehicle’s fuel-efficiency, or in the case of an EV, its range. Consider not carrying unnecessary luggage on road trips and when pottering around town, and make sure you’ve emptied your trunk of all things that you don’t need. Other weight-saving measures can include not donning your car with unnecessary accessories such as roof racks and aftermarket interior upholstery, and extra heavy floor mats. All this adds to the car’s overall weight, which will have a measurable impact on your efficiency over an extended period.

    5. Timely and proper servicing

    Ensuring that your vehicle is serviced at regular intervals, and by authorised technicians, is almost a given to maintain the basic hygiene of your vehicle, but routine servicing also helps check emissions, as your car will be in its optimal state of efficiency. Additionally, changing engine oil and air and fuel filters leads to smoother operation of the components, leading to their extended lifespan and reduced fuel use. One must also ensure that all wheels are aligned properly and are running at recommended pressures to maximise efficiency.

    6. Avoid blinging out your car

    Its no secret that we absolutely love chrome on our cars, but the production of most chrome-plated trimmings, and their byproducts, are very harmful for the environment. It involves the use of toxic acid baths and heavy metals such as lead, which can leak into natural environments; in addition, chrome contains hexavalent chromium, which is a known carcinogen. The plating process is also known to contribute to airborne emissions. Apart from just blinging out your car, chrome does not add any functional benefits, so you might as well save some money there.

    7. Aftermarket paint application

    It’s very commonly seen that people resort to local garages or detailers to fix minor scratches or scuff marks instead of getting it done at an authorised service station because it’s significantly cheaper. While it’s absolutely fine to avail such local services, do ensure that the painting process is conducted in a concealed paint booth that captures all the particulate matter and toxic gases, and filters the air completely before releasing it into the environment. Furthermore, such garages must have a proper drainage to ensure toxic chemical compounds used in paints do not run off into waterbodies or the soil.

    Also see:

    Beat the heat wave: How to keep your car cool at 50 degrees

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