How to Reduce Car Emissions

This guide provides actionable steps and insights into making your vehicle more eco-friendly.

Understanding how to reduce car emissions is important as a car owner, especially when preparing for the MOT (Ministry of Transport) test, addressing a failed MOT due to emissions, or simply seeking to minimise the environmental impact of their vehicle.

What are Car Emissions?

Car emissions refer to the gases and particles released into the atmosphere by the exhaust of an internal combustion engine in a vehicle. These emissions primarily consist of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons (HC), and particulate matter (PM), which contribute to air pollution and climate change. Reducing these emissions can significantly impact air quality and public health.

How to Reduce Car Emissions Before MOT

It’s important to take proactive steps with the maintenance of your vehicle to ensure it passes the MOT. Here are our top 7 practical tips to ensure your car is as clean-running as possible:

  • Regular Maintenance: This is the single most important vehicle maintenance tip. Keep up with your vehicle’s service schedule. Regular oil changes, air filter replacements, and spark plug checks can improve efficiency and reduce emissions.
  • Tyre Pressure: Maintain the correct tyre pressure. Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
  • Use Quality Fuel: Opt for premium fuel every once in a while that contains additives to clean the engine and fuel system, reducing emissions. For diesel cars, some engines require AdBlue which reduces emissions by a significant percentage.
  • Fuel Additives: Consider using a fuel additive (or cleaning agents) designed to clean the engine and exhaust system, improving the combustion process and reducing emissions.
  • Change Oil: Regularly changing your vehicle’s oil and using the recommended grade of oil improves engine efficiency. Clean oil reduces engine friction, which can lower emissions. Consider synthetic oils that can provide better protection and efficiency for the engine.
  • Change Air Filter: Before your MOT, check the exhaust system for leaks, as these can lead to higher emission readings.
  • Battery Health: Ensure your vehicle’s battery is in good condition. A failing battery can affect the performance of the car’s fuel injection system, leading to higher emissions.

How Do I Find Out the CO2 Emissions of My Car?

Knowing the CO2 emissions of your car is useful for environmental awareness and tax purposes. Here’s how to find this information:

Vehicle Registration Document (V5C): The CO2 emissions are listed under section ‘V.7 CO2 Emissions’ in your car’s V5C logbook.

Manufacturer’s Website: Most manufacturers provide detailed specifications, including CO2 emissions, for their vehicles online.

Online Databases: Websites like the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) or the DVLA offer tools to look up the emissions of your vehicle using the registration number.

Can Driving Style or Habits Reduce Emissions?

Beyond vehicle maintenance and repairs, adopting eco-friendly driving habits can further reduce emissions:

  • Drive Smoothly: Avoid sudden accelerations and heavy braking. Smooth driving is more fuel-efficient and reduces emissions.
  • Reduce Weight and Drag: Remove unnecessary items from your car and avoid using roof racks unless needed, as they increase air resistance and fuel consumption.
  • Use Air Conditioning Sparingly: AC increases fuel consumption. Use it judiciously or opt for opening windows when the car isn’t moving fast.
  • Plan Your Trips: Combining errands into one trip ensures the engine stays warm and runs more efficiently, reducing emissions per trip.

How to Pass the Emissions Test for MOT?

Regularly service your car to ensure it is in good condition. A service will include changing the oil, air filter, and spark plugs, which can significantly impact emissions. Ensure that the engine management light is not on. If it is, have the issue diagnosed and fixed before the test.

In addition to this, you can drive your car for about 20 minutes before the test to ensure the engine and catalytic converter are at the correct operating temperature. This helps the catalytic converter work more effectively.

For older cars in particular, some garages offer a pre-MOT emissions check. This can help you identify and fix any issues before the actual test. There are also fuel additive products such as “Petrol Pre-Emission Test Treatment” that claim to reduce harmful emissions and smoke. They have been known to be temporary fixes and prolonged use may not be very good for vehicle health so make sure you address any underlying mechanical issues that may be causing high emissions as soon as possible!

Does AdBlue reduce emissions for diesel vehicles?

Yes, AdBlue does reduce emissions for diesel vehicles. AdBlue is a trademarked name for Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), a solution made up of urea and deionized water. When injected into the exhaust system of a diesel-powered vehicle, it helps reduce the harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted by the engine into harmless nitrogen and water vapour. This process is known as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).

The primary purpose of AdBlue is to comply with stricter emission regulations and to help vehicles meet the Euro 6 standards for diesel engine emission levels. By significantly reducing NOx emissions, AdBlue plays a crucial role in improving air quality and making diesel engines more environmentally friendly.

Vehicles equipped with SCR technology have a separate AdBlue tank, and drivers need to periodically refill this tank to ensure the system works effectively. The consumption rate of AdBlue varies depending on the vehicle’s engine size, driving style, and conditions, but typically, a vehicle might use around 1 to 6 litres of AdBlue per 1,000 kilometres.

In summary, reducing car emissions is not only crucial for passing the MOT test but also for contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.

Marketing at ClickMechanic

Louanne is a marketing and communications professional in the automotive tech industry currently at ClickMechanic, boasting over 5 years of experience.

Louanne’s work at ClickMechanic might revolve around branding and customer engagement, but her passions extend far beyond the marketing sphere. A true foodie at heart, she loves exploring diverse cuisines and talking about her culinary adventures across the world. Her writing prowess shines through in her car-related blog content, where she offers invaluable driving tips and practical car repair advice.

In her Suzuki Jimny 4-wheel drive, Louanne combines her sense of adventure with her automotive know-how, transforming every drive into a lesson and a pleasure.