Environmental Car Care

(NUI) - Make every day Earth Day. Good driving habits and periodic vehicle maintenance will help you, your vehicle and the environment, say the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

A vehicle that's properly maintained and operated runs more efficiently and cleaner than a neglected vehicle. What's more, your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale value.

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.

* Under-inflated or misaligned tires waste fuel by forcing the vehicle's engine to work harder. Moreover, properly maintained tires last longer, lessening the burden at landfills.

* If you do your own repairs, dispose of used motor oil, antifreeze/coolant and old batteries properly. Some repair facilities accept these items or you can call your local government for additional drop-off sites.

* If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, find a good
technician. Ask friends for 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. Repair facilities with ASE-certified technicians usually display the ASE blue and white sign.

* 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.

* Even in times of low fuel prices, why waste gasoline? Speeding and sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Use cruise-control on highways to maintain a steady pace. When waiting for friends or family, you should shut off the engine. Also, consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.

For a free brochure with earth-friendly automotive

tips, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-sized envelope to: ASE Environment Brochure, Dept. NU-992, 13505 Dulles Technology Drive, Suite 2, Herndon, VA 20171-3421.

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