Motorists Seeing 'Green'

(NUI) - Car companies are working hard to engineer vehicles that pollute less and get better mileage; petroleum companies are producing cleaner gasolines; and the federal government is encouraging alternate-fueled vehicles. So what are you doing?

Motorists who want to go 'green' don't have to change the world. They need only change a few habits to make a difference, say the experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

ASE suggests regular vehicle maintenance and nonaggressive driving as two easy-to-implement consumer strategies.

The following tips from ASE can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care:

* Keep the engine running at its peak - a misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended by the owner's manual.

* Underinflated or misaligned tires waste fuel by forcing the engine to work harder.

* If you do your own repairs, dispose of used motor oil, antifreeze/coolant and old batteries properly. Some repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local government.

* If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, find a good technician. Ask friends recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. Check out the technicians' credentials. ASE-certified auto technicians have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning.

* Your car's air conditioner should be serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. The air conditioners in older vehicles contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which can be released into the atmosphere through improper service.

* Speeding and sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Use cruise-control on highways to maintain a steady pace. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.

* Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. If possible, put cargo in the vehicle rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.

For a free brochure with earth-friendly automotive tips, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-sized envelope to: ASE Environment Brochure, Dept. NU-002, 13505 Dulles Technology Drive, Suite 2, Herndon, VA 20171-3421.

ASE was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.

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