Don’t worry, your car isn’t turning your life into a Final Destination plot, but just because it doesn’t have an evil vendetta doesn’t mean us or the environment is safe.
Vehicles are equipped with a variety of features created to help keep us safe from the road, other drivers, and even ourselves, but there aren’t many options keeping us safe from our car.
Why Your Car is Toxic
Severe car pollution affects more than the environment. Getting the lowdown on eco-friendly cars before purchasing a new car or car accessories can save your health as well as others around you.
The outside air pollution caused by gasoline emissions being inside the car is something we don’t often think about when driving. However, in true karmic fashion, whatever we put out, we are getting too.
Why Cars are Bad for the Environment
Vehicles exhaust harmful gases into the air, increasing greenhouse gases that add to air pollution and climate change. A few harmful gases that come from cars include:
- Carbon monoxide (CO) – Doesn’t have a color or odor produced by fossil fuels such as gasoline. Carbon monoxide does not affect global temperature directly, but too much CO damages the planet’s ability to rid itself of the harmful gases that do.
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2) – Comes from diesel-burning vehicles and weakens nature’s ability to grow plants naturally.
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx) – Are created by your engine and are produced the most when a car overheats or reaches high temperatures.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – Unlike the grocery store, organic doesn’t mean good in this case. VOC gases sneak into our air through tailpipes and simply sit in the gas tank while cars are in park.
How to be Aware of Car Pollution on environment
Having to get an emissions test can be a pain, but keeping your car running safely and cleanly protects you and others. With so many things to do and places to go, stopping every time your check engine light comes on can feel unnecessary.
Although it’s unrealistic to stop driving altogether, look out for these things that can keep you and your car from doing more harm:
- A leaking or loose gas cap
- Non-functioning oxygen sensors
- Worn spark plugs
- Dirty air filter
- Old and dirty oil
Poor maintenance will eventually destroy any car, but what we drive is what has long-term effects when it comes to our physical health. Desiring the largest, flashiest thing on the road is the American way, but the bigger the car, the greater the emissions.
Being aware of what vehicles are the most harmful can help you make the best decision when car searching. A list of cars that cause the most air pollution that affects physical health is:
- Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography Long Wheelbase
- Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk 4X4
- Mercedes-Benz AMG G63
- Lexus LX 570
- Infiniti QX80
- Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon
- Toyota Sequoia
- Toyota Tundra
- Nissan Armada
- Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang
- Dodge Durango SRT
- Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT four-by-four
By choosing a vehicle based on how environmentally friendly it is, you can better protect your health while still enjoying being a driver.
How Pollution Affects Your Health
A high percentage of the U.S. population lives in areas where air pollutants surpass the standard levels.
Vehicle air pollution on the environment is the primary cause of human health complications in adults and even premature issues in infants. Overexposure to any of the emissions above can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Eye irritation
- Chest pain
In addition to symptoms, vehicle emissions and air pollutants can also increase the likelihood of more serious conditions such as:
- Inflamed lungs
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year”, essentially making the air in large cities toxic.
Ways to Diminish Your Air Pollution Exposure
Many of us have a car routine when we enter our vehicles, but some of the little things we do or don’t expose us to our cars’ harmful emissions. A few actions to take to lower your risk of damaging health complications because of your vehicle include:
- Roll down your window before turning on the air.
- Don’t run your car in a garage or enclosed space.
- Measure your tire pressure monthly.
- Keep up with oil changes and mechanic examinations.
- Carpool or use alternative forms of transportation more often.
- Don’t slam on your brakes, and accelerate your speed gradually.
- Don’t tailgate other vehicles.
- Drive the speed limit.
- Only run your vehicle when you are ready to drive.
- Choose a car that has start-stop technology.
Whether you live in the heart of Los Angeles or the coast of Honolulu, being aware of the air pollution you breathe because of what you drive is important.
Taking preventive measures will help, but driving an environmentally friendly vehicle to begin with puts you miles ahead of health complications, not to mention some insurance companies give hybrid car insurance discounts.
A list of cars known to have the lowest emission on environment levels is:
- BMW i3
- Toyota Prius
- Jaguar I-Pace
- 2016 Cadillac ELR
- VW Passat GTE
- Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX
- Nissan Leaf
- Volvo XC60 T8
- Tesla Model S
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
- Hyundai Ioniq
How to Find a Healthier Dream Car
Don’t be worried if the car you’ve had your eye on isn’t on this list. You can find out how efficient any vehicle is with an online search or by asking your dealer. Nothing should stop you from getting your dream car, but your dream ride shouldn’t be stopping you.
Overall, driving is a modern-day luxury that helps us accomplish everyday tasks, but knowing the potentially harmful effects can help us be better car owners. As responsible drivers, we have a duty to ourselves and the world around us to ensure our vehicles are not causing any more damage than necessary.
We use our cars to transport ourselves and loved ones, making safety outside and inside the vehicle equally important. Just because you made it to your destination without getting into a wreck doesn’t mean your well-being is secured if your car poisoned you on the way.
Danielle Beck-Hunter writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, BuyAutoInsurance.com.