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Under the Hood: Taking the environment into consideration

Brad Bergholdt, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Q: I believe global warming will destroy our planet. If you agree, I would like to see your responses to readers better reflect concerns for the environment.

In a recent reply, you suggested a reader choose a larger engine for its supposed longevity over a smaller, more fuel-efficient option. In support of this advice, you talked only about the expenses involved. Given that your advice influences the thoughts of many people, I ask you to consider mentioning the environmental impacts of such decisions.

-- Leo

A: Good stuff, Leo! I'll try to better consider the environment in my answers.

In the case of the larger engine for the truck, I think it's justified, as one should go with the most suitable engine for the task at hand -- in this case, heavy hauling. If I were this driver, however, I'd try to drive a Prius or Leaf during my daily commute and other light-duty trips and save the carbon dioxide-belching truck for its intended purpose.

Let's look at some things the typical vehicle owner can do to reduce their environmental footprint:

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CONSOLIDATE TRIPS OR CARPOOL

Engines emit far more pollutants and burn more fuel when they are cold-started. Combining errands leads to more warm starts. Under such conditions, the engine's combustion process, rather than wastefully letting hydrocarbons pass through unburned, creates torque by burning air and hydrocarbons.

MAINTAIN CORRECT TIRE PRESSURE, DRIVE STRATEGICALLY

Underinflated tires roll less easily across pavement, wasting fuel. And by anticipating the traffic ahead, you can avoid unnecessary braking and accelerating, which are also fuel-wasters.

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