The Maintenance Work that Can Help Your Vehicle Lower Its Emissions

Lower Vehicle Emissions

Many of us would like to help take care of our environment. Pollution benefits no one and clean air is something we can all agree is a good thing. Unfortunately, our vehicles tend to produce a fair amount of pollution over the course of their lifespans, though they produce far less than they did in the past. Without even talking about electric vehicles, cars and trucks being produced these days are notably more fuel-efficient than they ever were before. While getting better gas mileage and lowering the amount of emissions that are polluting the air are great developments, it’s important to recognize that these changes aren’t voluntary. In fact, many of these changes have come about and enforced through government regulations. This is why emissions are part of your regular vehicle inspection.


In Colorado, there are a variety of rules to be aware of when it comes to emissions and your inspection. If you have a newer vehicle, you have a seven year grace period where you don’t have to worry about the emissions test. However, any vehicle older than eight years old will need to pass the emissions test in order to receive a passing grade on the inspection. When thinking about auto repair, you may not consider emissions as part of the whole deal. But, regular maintenance and some best practices can actually help lower your emissions. A lot goes into keeping your car running smoothly and in great condition. Your mechanic can help you far more than you think when it comes to prolonging your vehicle’s lifespan and making sure your vehicle is running at maximum efficiency. While getting brake pads changed and tires rotated are certainly important to your safety, don’t discount the importance of regular maintenance when it comes to lowering your vehicle emissions.


In order to both pass any inspections you have coming up and to just have a more efficient car that will pollute less, it’s important to understand what can be done to lower your emissions. Some things, like behavioral changes, can lower emissions in the macro over the course of years as you drive. But, that’s not the same thing as passing a computer related diagnostics test like the one that happens during inspection. That will require some repairs. Here is what you need to know about keeping your vehicle emissions to a minimum.


Can emission levels change over time?


If you bought your car and it was rated as being a low emission or efficient vehicle, will that always be the case? In comparison to other vehicles not constructed with those features as selling points, yes. Overall, your emissions will most likely stay lower. But, in comparison to the day you drove your vehicle off the sales lot, your emissions may have gone up since then.


This may seem a bit counterintuitive. How can a low emission vehicle start producing more emissions? The explanation is rather simple: wear and tear. As a car or truck gets older and is used more, the internals are no longer pristine. Parts break down or become worn out or get filled with gunk. As these things happen, other parts of the vehicle have to work harder to fill the gap. When a vehicle’s efficiency gets negatively affected by wear and tear, emission levels can go up because it’s no longer working at that day 1 capacity.


That’s why regular maintenance and repairs when needed not only keep your vehicle running safely, but it improves efficiency as well. Even the simplest fixes that you need to get done anyway can make your vehicle more efficient and keep emissions under control. Let’s take a look at some of those repairs and tune-ups. Hopefully, you’re staying on top of many of these anyway.


What types of repairs can help?


You may be surprised to learn that some of the most routine tune-ups and maintenance can actually have an effect on your vehicle’s emission levels. Take for example how much of an effect your motor oil can have on your emissions. You know that you have to change your oil regularly, anyway. Whether you do it or not is up to you, but it’s strongly recommended that you do so every 4,000 to 5,000 miles. That’s because the longer you live oil circulating through the engine, the more “solid” it becomes. As the oil becomes more dirty and more of a gunk, it clogs up the engine and allows carbon to build up. That carbon is then emitted from your vehicle as smog and now you have a higher emission level. By keeping your engine free of gunk by consistently changing your motor oil, you’ll keep it from building up carbon.


Your gasoline choices can also affect how much pollution comes from your vehicle. Not only should you be using higher quality gasoline, but you may want to buy gasoline additives as well. These additives act as a cleaning agent that keep your intake valves and ports clear.


Also be sure to change out filters, especially the air filter, when necessary. When the air filter is too old, it isn’t as good at keeping dirt and contaminants out of your engine. Much like with dirty oil, the more contaminants in your engine, the higher your emissions.


Finally, be mindful of your tires. Especially, in regards to pressure. While this doesn’t lower emissions directly, it increases your fuel mileage. Higher fuel mileage means fewer pollutants.


What are some ways to lower emissions while driving?


While driving habits won’t necessarily help when it comes time to have your vehicle hooked up to an onboard diagnostics machine to read your emission levels via computer, they will help when it comes to your emission levels during your day to day use of your vehicle. Of course, driving less is one way to do that, but we don’t all have that luxury of choice.


However, not pushing your vehicle so hard can lower your emissions. For example, stop and start traffic leads to higher emissions. Flooring the gas pedal and braking suddenly often has a cumulative effect of creating more pollution because the vehicle is working harder. One of the biggest culprits of pollution is idling. While it may seem inconvenient to turn your car off while you’re sitting there waiting for your kids to come out of school, turning off the engine can lower pollution greatly. Additionally, few modern vehicles need to warm up during the winter months to run properly.


How often do I need to worry about efficiency?


The thing about emissions inspections is that they don’t happen terribly often. If you stick to the recommended maintenance schedule that every vehicle should be on anyway, your emission levels should stay in the optimal range.




Keeping your vehicle emissions low is important for a variety of reasons. Yes, it’s good for the environment, but you also have to comply with regulations. Regular tune-ups and some types of auto repair can help you achieve this along with being more mindful of how you’re operating your vehicle. If you lower your emissions, both your wallet and the planet will be thankful. Call us today to schedule a time to bring your vehicle in for service. At Independent Motors, we’re dedicated to helping your vehicle perform at its best for years to come.