Cars and trucks driving on country highway.
May 2020

Smart Ways Drivers Can Reduce Their Carbon Footpri

International Mother Earth Day occurs on the 22 April every year, when we remind ourselves of the pollution our cars emit and the effects it has on our future generations. 

‘Carbon’ is essentially a word we use to mean greenhouse gas emissions comprising CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and other toxic gases. These are released into the atmosphere in the various types of human activities and driving a car is just one of them. 

CO2 and cars – Facts & figures

Here are some CO2 figures from various sources (no figures were found or available for South Africa):

  1. Whether your vehicle is old or new, for each litre of petrol a car consumes, approximately 2.3kg of CO2 is produced. 
  2. For each litre of diesel a car consumes, approximately 2.7kg of CO2 is produced. 
  3. An average car emits about 6 tons of carbon dioxide every year. 
  4. In Europe, passenger cars account for approximately 61% of total CO2 emissions from road transport. In the US, driving accounts for 47%. 

Note: The more economical your vehicle, the less CO2 it will produce. Bear this in mind when looking for your next second-hand car. 

Ways to reduce CO2 emissions from your car

Since we are so dependent on our cars to get around, we need to think of ways and take extra steps to reduce our impact on the environment. To begin with, calculate the CO2 created by your vehicle, then make use of the following tips:

  1. Drive smartly 
    1. Not in a suit, but by adopting smooth driving habits, not stop-starts and heavy braking. Hard acceleration and braking can lower mileage by between 15 - 30% on the highway and 10% to 40% in heavy traffic. (Source: US Department of Energy)
    2. Try to idle as little as possible. Switch off rather than keep the engine running unnecessarily. 
    3. Speed matters. More speed increases aerodynamic drag and use more fuel. Studies show that for every 8km you drive over 96 km per hour (approximate figures), fuel economy is lowered by 7%.
  2. Carpool – Share rides rather than drive solo. 
  3. Regular car maintenance 
    1. Proper tyre inflation can improve your mileage significantly.
    2. Regular car services that clean or replace your air and oil filters can reduce your fuel consumption.
    3. Keep your engine tuned – some maintenance adjustments can increase fuel efficiency by up to 40%.
  4. Choose economy over looks – It’s worth mentioning again, that the more economical your vehicle, the better its fuel efficiency, and therefore the lower the CO2 emissions.
  5. Consider weight – When looking for a new second-hand car, consider that a lighter vehicle requires less energy to power it on. 
  6. Consider shape – When looking for your next second-hand car, bear in mind its aerodynamics and wind resistance factor. 

We cannot stop our vehicles from emitting CO2, but we can take simple steps to increase fuel efficiency. The advantages are tenfold. Safer driving, money-saving, and planet-friendly. 


Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.