Air Quality: Be PART of the solution

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In the UK nearly 5% of deaths can be attributed to air pollution. The biggest cause of poor air quality in the UK is down to car fumes. Diesel engines emit significantly more pollution than equivalent petrol-powered vehicles.

Opting to drive less will help improve local air quality, but if you have to drive, there are things you can do to reduce your emissions.

Before you set-off

Keep your tyres pumped-up

Under-inflated tyres create more resistance, making your engine work harder. This can increase your fuel consumption by up to 3 per cent.

Clear out any extra weight

Remove unnecessary clutter and roof racks. This will reduce your car's weight and air resistance.

Change the oil and the oil filter

A new oil filter ensures that only clean oil is flowing through the engine and therefore less exhaust emissions are released.

Plan your route

Planning your route in advance, and using a map or satnav, can help you take the shortest route and avoid getting lost.

Change the fuel filter

The fuel filter cleans the gasoline that is needed to power your car's engine. Over time, fuel filters become clogged with dirt and debris and can no longer properly clean the fuel passing through the engine. This causes the engine to burn more fuel than is necessary and increases the amount of exhaust gases released.

Change the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve

An old PCV valve can become dirty and clogged with old oil which prevents it from doing its job of reducing emissions. Replacing the PCV valve can help you reduce your car's exhaust fumes.

Take your car for a tune-up.

Excess amounts of exhaust emissions can be caused by a wide variety of reasons that only a trained mechanic can diagnose.

While driving in your car

Following these smarter driving tips could cut your CO2 emissions by around 8%. This could add up to an annual saving of one month's fuel.

Drive at an appropriate speed

Sticking to speed limits helps conserve fuel. Driving at a slower speed also gives you time to anticipate traffic ahead, helping you drive more smoothly. Driving at 50mph instead of 70mph can improve fuel economy by 25%

Speed up and slow down smoothly

Every time you stop and start, your engine uses more fuel and produces more emissions. Check the road ahead and slow down early and gradually, giving the traffic time to start moving again before you reach it. Then you can gradually speed up again without needing to brake suddenly.

Change gears at the right time

Changing up gears a little earlier can reduce revs per minute (rpm) and reduce your fuel usage. If you drive a diesel car, try shifting up when the rev counter reaches 2,000 rpm. For a petrol car, change up at 2,500 rpm.

Remember to change down a gear at the right time too; if your car is struggling, it will also use more fuel.

Avoid leaving your engine running

If you're likely to be at a standstill for more than a minute or two, switch-off the engine. When the engine is idling, you're wasting fuel.

Don't use air conditioning unless you really need it

Using air conditioning and electrical devices like mobile phone chargers increases your fuel consumption, so keep their usage to a minimum.

Try using the fresh air vent to keep cool and park in the shade on a sunny day or use a windscreen sunshield. This will keep your car cooler inside and stop fuel evaporating from the engine and fuel tank.

Get in and go

Modern engines are designed to be most efficient when you get in and drive off; unnecessarily revving wastes fuel, money, increases engine wear and emissions.

Consider driving less

Reducing your car travel is a key step to reducing climate change effects and local air pollution (and resulting health problems).

Nearly a quarter of all car trips are less than two miles, a distance you can cycle in less than 15 minutes. Cycling and walking distances under two miles could help you get fitter and save you money in fuel. You could also consider:

  • Going to a meeting? Contact the organiser to see if they could set up a car pooling services; you never know, someone from down the road may be going your way!
  • Planning ahead: so you can combine errands.
  • Car sharing: is your employer signed up to KCC's Kent Journey Share? If not found out why or join direct
  • Using public transport: using the train or bus can save on time (and frustration) spent hunting for a car parking space, plus save on parking fees and emissions!

Further Information

If you want to know more about air quality or have any suggestions on air quality contact the Environmental Protection team.

View this information in leaflet format.