What You Can Do
Use the Glossary of Terms to explain terms and abbreviations used on this page.
- The tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks account for almost a third of the air pollution in the United States.
- Your choice of vehicle makes a difference for the environment. Use this Guide to choose the cleanest vehicle that meets your needs.
- Be responsible about using and caring for your vehicle and it will reward you by polluting less and lasting longer.
- For specific vehicle tips, and to view our vehicle public service campaign, visit SmartWay for Consumers .
Using the information in this Guide, you can choose the cleanest vehicle available that meets your needs. The choice you make will affect the quality of the air we breathe, because passenger cars and trucks are major contributors to air pollution. Even with continued improvements in air quality, almost 100 million people in the United States still live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, much of which can be attributed to the increased use of passenger cars and trucks. Children and the elderly are the most at risk from air pollution.
Choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
The better gas mileage a vehicle gets, the less fuel it burns. Less fuel burned means fewer natural resources are used and less pollution is created from the extraction and processing of the fuel. Less fuel burned also means that less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is added to the atmosphere. To help you select a more fuel efficient vehicle, EPA and the Department of Energy publish an annual Fuel Economy Guide, available at www.fueleconomy.gov.
Drive fewer miles
Vehicles make up almost one-third of smog-forming emissions nationally, and because we are driving more and more miles every year (up 127% since 1970), vehicles continue to be a significant contributor to air pollution. Whenever possible, take public transportation, carpool, and combine activities into one trip.
Maintain your vehicle properly
Your vehicle is designed to perform best when maintained according to the instructions found in the owner's manual. A poorly tuned vehicle can pollute significantly more than one that's well-maintained.
When the weather is warm, try to refuel early in the morning or late in the evening. This will reduce the amount of evaporative emissions being pushed out of the tank during the heat of the day, when smog most easily forms. On Ozone Action Days, try not to refuel at all. And never top off your tank beyond the automatic shutoff point.