If a New Car is On Your Christmas List Read About How Your Purchase Can Help the Air

Along with plush leather seats, GPS, surround-sound and a sporty look, now you have another good reason to buy a new or newer car: Helping to curtail air pollution.

Short of driving less (the best means of reducing auto air emissions), buying a clean-air car is a good thing to do to keep our air clean, especially if your current vehicle is an older model.

How do I make a wise buy of a clean-air car?

Brand new models have to meet the strictest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards when it comes to emissions. If you are looking for a used car, look for one that is six years old or newer (these are exempt from federal smog-check requirements, too).

More things to consider

Check the Environmental Performance Label on the car you are contemplating buying. Be patient in deciphering the label as the coding can appear to be a little technical, but there are some simple numbers that give you a good indication of how the car stacks up against government standards and against other vehicles. Various websites can explain the labels, including www.OurAir.org and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District’s site at www.sbcapcd.org. The Environmental Protection Agency site, http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/index.do provides helpful charts that help you rate the greenest vehicles by year, type and state.

Ratings for SUVs (sport utility vehicles), minivans and trucks do not mean the same as ratings for cars. These vehicles are not required to meet the same emissions standards as cars in the past. However, the standards for some of these vehicle types have been changed so the newest models will be cleaner that in the past.

Look at the fuel efficiency ratings as well as the air pollution rating. The two don’t always match, but fuel-efficient cars are often also less polluting. Obviously, the better the fuel economy of the vehicle, the less production of carbon dioxide it will emit.
Short of driving less, buying a new — or newer — car can help you curb air pollution from exhaust. On how best to proceed with your quest to buy an air-friendly car, you can do a search at several helpful web sites, including: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency site, http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/index.do.