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Conscious Car Maintenance

 
pioneer
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Ok, I'm not willing to give up my car at this point in my life. I'm impressed, grateful and in awe of those who do!!

So, I still have to get my oil changed regularly, ugh. There are so many pitfalls to assessing the environmental aspect of this fact...

I'd like to focus on one aspect right now that I can have a direct change on. I used to have my husband do all of my oil changes (my car maintenance is one area of my life in which I shamelessly choose to be a helpless female, sorry to those who may be offended by that). This was primarily a decision based on my ingrained self-reliance thinking. Why pay someone to do it, if we can do it? The last time my oil was changed I was stuck looking at an empty oil bottle and realizing that most likely this bottle coated in oil, and not easily cleaned, is probably not good for the recycling industry; and, like many other seemingly harmless items, may even contaminate an entire batch of recyclable materials. (I don't know enough about the recycling of plastics to know if the oil will be a problem). Now I had to decide, do I try to clean it, using a lot of water, and dumping the now contaminated water where?? Do I put it into the recycling the way it is and hope for the best?? Do I send it to a landfill?? I don't like any of these choices! That's when it occurred to me that a place specializing in oil changes must have a more efficient way of dealing with the oil. When I looked deeper I found out that in fact they do. They don't use the little bottles of oil, they get really big containers with the fresh oil. They also have large containers for the 'waste' oil. So I've decided next time I get my oil changed I'm going to at have a place that specializes in oil changes do it. This will also support my local economy.

I know in can be hard to talk about things like this on a permaculture forum, since most of us don't want to think about our reliance on oil, gasoline, and cars in general. That doesn't change the fact that not all of us are going to jump from from 1 or 2 to a 6 or higher on the Wheaton Eco scale (I don't know where Paul would place someone who has given up use of a car??) overnight. So at least we can be conscious of how we maintain and use our cars.

What are some other things people can recommend to improve your car's impact? (Besides giving it up entirely, or replacing it with an electric car.)

Or do you know more about oil change processes at places like jiffy lube that make it a far worse choice??
 
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What I think I know of Jiffy Lube type places is that they are getting the oil from large containers/barrels so they aren't generating a lot of little jugs of oil covered plastic to recycle.  Yay.  And they collect the used oil and send it back to be refined or remade.  I believe into new motor oil but I could be wrong.  It is reused for something though.  

The fix for the DIY oil changer is to use the empty jugs to hold the used oil.  Then when you get a pile of jugs that are full of used oil, take them to an auto parts store where they'll happily take your oil (and sell it to the refinery) and recycle your jugs for you.  Now I'm assuming that they do recycle them, maybe they just go into the trash...  A similar approach is to post an ad on craigslist saying you have free used motor oil in jugs by your mailbox and they'll be picked up by someone within a few days.  They may or may not recycle the jugs properly either...
 
gardener
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Jackie Frobese wrote:Ok, I'm not willing to give up my car at this point in my life. I'm impressed, grateful and in awe of those who do!!


What are some other things people can recommend to improve your car's impact? (Besides giving it up entirely, or replacing it with an electric car.)



It's a great choice if you can give up your car, but I'm not entirely sure many rural folks could do it, for the reason they live too far away to make biking/walking/public transport a viable option. Also, many rural folks haul big items to and from the homestead, making vehicles a necessary evil.

Keeping your car running smoothly, so it gets its optimal gas mileage, is a good way to keep the environmental impact down, I feel. Not driving more than necessary, too. (ie: combining as many errands as possible into one trip)

I would do a LOT of research into electric cars, in my humble opinion. I read somewhere that the batteries on electric cars have a carbon impact of 5 years. Let alone the other mechanical parts. That means you need to keep the batteries alone for 5 years just to break even on their carbon footprint. Who can keep a car battery viable for 5 years? And, given the fact that (last I heard) about 50% of America's electricity comes from coal, it doesn't seem to me that electric cars are that much of a wiser choice than regular gasoline run engines. If anyone knows these statistics are different than what I have written here, please correct me. It was a few years ago that I read it.

I agree that oil-change businesses are our best solution at this point. And trying to make wise choices in all aspects of our lives, so that we can offset the impact of gasoline.
 
Jackie Frobese
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Stacie Kim wrote:
I would do a LOT of research into electric cars, in my humble opinion. I read somewhere that the batteries on electric cars have a carbon impact of 5 years. Let alone the other mechanical parts. That means you need to keep the batteries alone for 5 years just to break even on their carbon footprint. Who can keep a car battery viable for 5 years? And, given the fact that (last I heard) about 50% of America's electricity comes from coal, it doesn't seem to me that electric cars are that much of a wiser choice than regular gasoline run engines. If anyone knows these statistics are different than what I have written here, please correct me. It was a few years ago that I read it.



Stacie, I've heard much the same about electric cars and electricity production, which is why I haven't historically opted for electric items over gas powered. We are having solar panels installed soon! I'm excited to be creating a way for many of my energy needs to be met more sustainably. I won't however be purchasing an electric vehicle any time soon as I believe its likely better for me to keep driving my existing vehicle than purchasing a whole new one.

Thanks Mike for confirming what I was finding.
 
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I've read that the EV batteries are expected to last 10-20 years, though the warranties are generally 5-8 years.  So it seems at a minimum that you should get the 5 years out of it.
 
pollinator
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There's a way to "cook" plastics into oil, that also can be used to turn heavy oils into lighter kinds of petroleum. It's one of those things that can be as fancy or as simple as you want it to be, but do a search on "DIY plastic pyrolysis" to see some setups.
 
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I find Lucas Oil makes some good products that are especially beneficial for older cars & trucks.
I use the Lucas fuel treatment and my 2001 sedan tells me it went from 21.5 mpg to as much as 23.5 mpg, or about 10% increase (YMMV).

  https://www.summitracing.com/parts/luc-10020-1

I'll use a bottle every second or third fill-up. I buy it by the gallon now and refill the bottle, it's much cheaper that way.

If you have an older car with oil leaks, I highly recommend trying Lucas Engine Oil Stop leak, it helped my old 305 & sb400
  https://www.summitracing.com/parts/luc-10279-1

...and their Transmission Fix is another good product. I use it in my 4l60E and in a turbo 400
  https://www.summitracing.com/parts/luc-10009-1
 
pollinator
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A simple thing for just about anyone to do is to keep your tire pressure at the correct amount. It is especially good to check when the weather turns colder, since the pressure will drop with temperature.
Your fuel economy will suffer on underinflated tires, and you have less control. You can even damage your tire or have a blowout by driving with it too low on air.
You'll also get better life from your tires because they will wear unevenly if over/underinflated (also if misaligned or with worn suspension parts).

You will earn back all the quarters for the gas station tire pump in better fuel economy.

If you don't already own an air compressor, consider it just for this. Never mind all of the other tires to fill: on bikes, wheelbarrows, carts, trailers, tractors... or for powering nail guns, staplers...
 
Mike Haasl
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:If you don't already own an air compressor, consider it just for this. Never mind all of the other tires to fill: on bikes, wheelbarrows, carts, trailers, tractors... or for powering nail guns, staplers...

 Don't forget that for most of those tires (including car tires) a bike pump works as well.
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