Photo courtesy of Flickr under creative commons license

I really love what Elon Musk and Tesla Motors is doing. They are creating zero-emission cars as well as solar roofs and batteries that can make driving a car completely solar. The roof collects the sun, stores it in the battery and charges the car. The car drives on battery power creating absolutely no pollution. This is amazing and I want this to become common and it will. In my enthusiasm, however, I often lose sight of the fact that there are billions of cars on the road now and they won’t just disappear. Until everyone is driving a solar powered car, there are ways to reduce their impact on the environment.

Intake And Exhaust

Currently, car manufacturers are making their vehicles more and more efficient and green. This process has been going on since the CAFE standards were created in the 70s. However, it there has been slow progress. But even if you have a car that is less that pristine, there are ways that you can improve its environmental footprint. First, look at things like your air filter. There are aftermarket filters and manufacturer specific cold-air intakes that improve gas mileage and are simple and easy to install. This can reduce the amount of fuel your car uses, thus reducing its impact on the environment.

The same thing applies to the exhaust end of your car. Installing more efficient mufflers can improve efficiency as well as emissions up to ten percent. The combination of these efforts won't turn your SUV into a Prius, but modern exhaust systems can turn down the impact of even full size pickups like the Ford F-150. And if you want to really go the extra mile (on a gallon of gas), tuners can help all of these efforts function at maximum capacity, even further reducing emissions and improving efficiency.

Do The Little Things

When Sarah Palin was on the presidential ticket she suggested people should inflate their tires to the proper pressure. This is a way of improving gas mileage. She received a lot of backlash from her party, mostly because they don’t want people using less gas. The point is, there are opportunities to reduce our fuel consumption and some of them are simple, like having tires inflated properly.

Also, there is a myth that it takes more fuel to start your car than it does to idle. In most cases, if you are not moving for twenty seconds or more, it saves more gas to turn your engine off. So, when stuck in traffic or parked, turn the engine off.

Ultimately, what I’m figuring out is that perfection doesn’t have to become the enemy of the good. Yes, it would be awesome if the scientist Nikola Tesla’s vision of a wireless system that produced clean energy for everyone had come to fruition. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we spent the last century polluting and warming the planet. But now we have the opportunity to change our ways. This won’t happen overnight and that is why we must take the step that is in front of us. And for many of us that means doing some simple, cost-effective modifications to our current cars. This isn’t the ultimate solution, but it is a step in the right direction.