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How Green is Your Chosen Used Car?

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 30 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
How Green Is Your Chosen Used Car?

Making sure a used car is eco-friendly is not at the top of everyone's list when it comes to buying one, but there are sound financial reasons as well as environmental ones for choosing a green motor.

There has been a 52 per cent increase in carbon dioxide emissions from UK transport since 1980, according to the Government's Department of Transport. That's not too surprising, as road traffic has risen by 84 per cent and the annual distance travelled by cars has climbed 116 billion miles to 250 billion miles.

A massive increase in private car ownership in the last 25 years has contributed to the problem of traffic pollution. In 1980, 41 per cent of households did not have access to a car, but that figure had fallen to 25 per cent by 2006 and at the same time the number of licensed vehicles rose from 19.2 million to 33.4 million.

Emissions and Economy

Those keen to do what they can to reduce traffic pollution should try to choose a cleaner used car. Concentrate on a car's emissions and its fuel economy. Low emissions - expressed as grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide - and high fuel economy, measured in miles per gallon, will result in a more eco-friendly choice.

Used cars with better fuel economy will be greener and cheaper to run, and savings can be made regardless of the size and power of the car, as miles per gallon can vary by 30 per cent within all performance classes.

Tighter European standards on vehicle emissions have speeded up the introduction of cleaner fuels and greener vehicle technologies. Advances have been so great that a modern car produces only five per cent of the regulated pollutants that were produced by a car in 1970.

If the car is well maintained and the engine properly tuned, its performance and fuel economy will improve. It is important to check tyre pressure too, as under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to three per cent.

Stringent Regulations

In the future, cars will have to meet even more stringent regulations and manufacturers are aware of this. The vast majority of cars still run on petrol or diesel, but future emission standards may be the catalyst for the growth of the hybrid-electric car, which is part conventional car and part battery-electric.

Although more expensive to purchase at present, hybrids use up to 30 per cent less fuel than conventional cars, so the cost can be recouped. It is worth taking a hybrid petrol-electric car for a test drive as these new technologies can be surprisingly good. In addition, hybrids produce significantly less harmful emissions and most are exempt from London's congestion charge.

There is more than fuel economy to consider when choosing a green used car. Not all car manufacturers are as eco-friendly as others, so try to pick a manufacturer that employs good environmental practice. Also, try to choose a car that will be both suitable and reliable for years and years, as this will reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing.

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