There are several ways car owners can be kinder to the environment – and their vehicles – while driving. According to Gary Kendall, co-owner of Brentwood’s Kendall Automotive, simple acts such as routine maintenance and not idling the car for extended periods of time can make the vehicle last longer and care for the environment.
Kendall also noted that technological advances have helped drivers cut back on harmful emissions. “They make more modern chemicals now that seem to be good for the environment,” he said. “And there are guidelines for that stuff to be used.”
When it comes to environmentally friendly driving, Kendall knows what he’s talking about. Located at 205 Oak St. in downtown Brentwood, Kendall Automotive is the city’s 2011 Business of the Year. A few years ago, the shop was honored by the Contra Costa County Green Business Program as a Certified Green business, a title Gary and his wife Karen hold proudly.
Kendall Automotive met several criteria to earn the honor, such as practicing safe disposal of hazardous waste (e.g., antifreeze and oil) and using shop towels instead of paper towels. The shop uses water instead of aerosols for jobs such as brake cleaning, and recycles whenever possible.
“I thought we couldn’t become green because of this old building,” Karen said. “(The county) sent a rep here, and she said, ‘No, no, you’ll be surprised what you can do.’ … It’s not that difficult, really.”
Another major way car owners can help the environment is by getting to know their car better, studying up on when to get oil changes and additives.
While it’s generally accepted that drivers should change their oil every 3,000 miles, Gary Kendall said that’s a waste of resources. He recommended drivers check with their car’s manufacturer to find out the best schedule for oil changes, since each one is different. Kendall feels that it’s somewhere closer to 5,000 miles, which also makes it easier to remember when to take the car in.
For those who opt to change their own oil, it’s best to contact the county to find out the best place to dispose of the used oil. The county has drop-off locations where drivers can safely get rid of hazardous waste such as motor oil, antifreeze and oil filters. For more information, call the Contra Costa County Hazardous Waste Program at 800-750-4096. Leaving oil in the garage or out in the open could be harmful to the environment.
Drivers should also become smarter about engine additives, using them only when necessary, and consider filling up tires with nitrogen instead of air. Many tire shops own a nitrogen tank and will use that if you ask. Racecar drivers use nitrogen in their tires because it maintains pressure longer, which improves gas mileage.
Kendall also recommends getting your car’s air filter inspected periodically, and changed when necessary. Drivers should also avoid unnecessary hard accelerations and hard braking, which not only gulps more gas, but leads to more trips to the auto shop.
To save gas, drivers can coast up to a red light, if they see it soon enough.
“Drive respectably,” Kendall said. “Don’t jackrabbit starts and jam on the brakes stopping. Anticipate lights ahead and coast accordingly.”