Jim Rink (313) 336-1513
Even though technology has made automobiles cleaner and more efficient than ever before, car buyers can still achieve greater economy and fuel efficiency by following a few simple guidelines when shopping for a new car, according to AAA.
“Only purchase as much car or truck as you need,” said Jim MacPherson, lead reviewer for “AAA Auto Guide: 2003 New Cars and Trucks,” which rates more than 200 new vehicles each year. “A bigger vehicle will usually cost more to operate, may emit more pollutants and, if they have a higher center of gravity, may not be a safer vehicle.”
To help shoppers find a vehicle that meets their needs while having less of an impact on the environment, AAA offers these tips:
- If you only need a large vehicle once or twice a year, consider renting one for those occasions, and purchase a more economical vehicle to meet day-to-day driving needs.
- Pay attention to the emissions ratings that indicate cleaner-running engines. Some vehicles are rated low-emissions vehicles (LEV), ultra-low emissions (ULEV), and super-ultra-low emissions (SULEV).
- Even among vehicles of the same size you can find a significant variation in fuel economy. Driving a vehicle that gets better fuel economy may produce fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.
In addition, some vehicles come with optional engine and transmission choices which can improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
- While shopping, ask which models have these options available. In nearly every case, vehicles cost less to operate if they have better fuel economy and emit fewer pollutants.
Hybrid vehicles – such as Honda’s Civic and Insight, and Toyota’s Prius – can get 35-70 miles per gallon and are readily available.
“Bigger” doesn’t always mean “safer.” Some larger vehicles have a higher center of gravity that makes them prone to rolling over in a crash. No matter what car you choose always check its crash test ratings. These are available online at www.nhtsa.dot.gov or www.iihs.org.
Once you purchase your new vehicle follow these tips to keep it running longer:
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to ensure better fuel economy and more dependable operation.
- Maintain correct air pressure in the tires. Low air pressure causes higher fuel consumption, more wear on the vehicle and dangerous handling in an emergency.
- Always have your vehicle serviced immediately if the “Check Engine” light comes on.
For more tips on saving fuel, look for AAA’s Gas Watcher’s Guide brochure online at www.aaapublicaffairs.com or ask for it at your AAA club office. "AAA Auto Guide: 2003 New Cars and Trucks” is available online at www.aaa.com, at AAA club offices and at bookstores. It retails for $13.95 US/$21.95 CDN.