Exhaust fumes

How to lower car emissions

The UK Government has set a target to reach net zero by 2050. This means UK greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 100% from 1990 levels by the year 2050.

The Government is focused on reducing emissions on the roads and encouraging drivers to adopt greener transport.

They are currently investing in new public charging infrastructure to support an increasingly electrified road network- and have set a 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

Clean Air Zones (CAZs) have also been introduced in various cities. These zones levy daily charges on drivers of high polluting vehicles.

By cutting your car’s emissions, you could save some cash while doing your part to save the planet. In this guide, we’ll cover some practical steps that you can take today to make your car cleaner and greener.

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Why should I reduce my car's emissions?

Reducing your car’s emissions will bring about the following benefits:

  • Improved fuel efficiency.

  • Improved performance.

  • Lower running costs.

  • Fewer mechanical issues.

  • Lower repair and maintenance costs.

  • You’ll also avoid many emissions-based charges such as those levied in the CAZs in various cities - and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London.

Your car also needs to comply with emissions regulations to pass its annual MOT test. These requirements are likely to get stricter as the 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars draws nearer.

Reducing your car’s emissions helps towards tackling the climate crisis, as vehicle emissions are a huge contributor to climate change.

You’ll also help to improve the air quality. Emissions cause air pollution, which negatively affects residents’ health, causing asthma, lung disease, eye and skin problems.

Top ways to reduce emissions before your MOT

MOT emissions tests are more stringent these days but there are things you can do to give your car the best chance of passing:

  • Check for obvious problems. If you notice unusual noises, smells, leaks, smoke - or unexplained dashboard warning lights, then make sure you address these issues before your MOT.
  • Go for a drive. Catalytic converters work best when they’ve had time to warm up. Going for a 20 to 30-minute drive just before your MOT will make sure your catalytic converter is reducing emissions effectively.
  • Add extra components such as a diesel/petrol particulate filter (DPF/PPF) and/or a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to help reduce the emissions even more.

Routine maintenance to lower emissions

Keeping your car in tip-top condition is one of the best ways to keep emissions down. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind:

  • Over time, your car’s engine will get clogged up with oil and other deposits, which increases emissions and affects your car’s performance. A cleaning agent can get rid of these.
  • Your air filter can also get clogged easily. A clogged filter stops your car from running efficiently and increases emissions. Replacing it regularly can help you avoid this issue.
  • Driving with low oil levels can negatively impact the engine’s performance, leading to increased emissions. Dirty oil will have the same effect. So, make sure you keep the oil topped up and change it regularly.
  • Servicing your car at the recommended intervals will also help to ensure it’s running efficiently, whilst keeping emissions as low as possible.

Choosing the right fuel

Most premium fuels contain cleaning agents, which work to remove the buildup of dirt in your engine. These premium fuels are generally more expensive than standard options, but many drivers believe the extra cost is worthwhile. Aside from making your car more fuel efficient, they can increase the lifespan of internal parts, saving you money on repair and maintenance in the longer term.

Important: Check what fuel your car can use before switching. You can find this information in your owner’s manual or inside the fuel filler flap.

Driving practices that reduce emissions

What’s happening under the bonnet isn’t the only factor that affects your car’s emissions. Your driving style also comes into play:

  • Stop-start journeys produce more emissions than those where you’re cruising smoothly on the motorway.
  • You should avoid rapid acceleration; try building up speed gradually if possible.
  • Avoid idling. Turn off the engine if you need to stop for a short while.

Here are a few other things you can do to cut your emissions:

  • Remove anything you don’t need from the boot and back seat before each trip. The heavier your car is, the harder it will have to work.
  • Walk or use public transport when it is practical to do so.
  • Try carpooling with friends or colleagues whenever possible. Aside from cutting emissions, this can also help you to save on fuel costs.

Vehicle checks: Tyre pressure, tread depth and air conditioning use

Having incorrect tyre pressure will harm fuel efficiency, which leads to higher emissions – and may jeopardise your car’s safety. Make sure you check your tyres regularly and don’t forget about the spare!

You should also check your tyre tread depth on a regular basis and replace your tyres when necessary. Whilst the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, studies have shown that responsiveness and performance is compromised for tyres worn past 3mm.

The air conditioning is another potential drain on your engine’s resources. The longer you use it, the harder the engine has to work - and the more emissions it creates. Using it less often and turning it off for a while before getting out of the car will help to lower emissions.

Should I consider upgrading my vehicle?

With the UK’s push towards zero-emissions vehicles well underway, it’s clear to see where the future is headed. If your car produces a lot of emissions, you might want to upgrade to a greener model.

Ready to make the switch? Why not sell your car to webuyanycar? The selling process is simple and worry-free with a guaranteed sale. Here’s how it works:

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  • Happy to sell your car? We’ll help with the paperwork and send the money to your bank.