If it’s time to replace your car, or even buy one for the first time, will you go for new or used? You might be surprised to learn that a used car has a lot of environmentally friendly benefits.
Avoids adding to the environmental impact of manufacturing
Vehicle manufacturers have dedicated energy managers whose job is to find energy efficiencies. Thanks to their efforts, consumption of energy and water and output of CO2, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and waste has reduced considerably over the last few years (results can be seen on this SMMT report).
Nevertheless, by purchasing a used car, you are helping to make that car’s existing manufacturing footprint go further and mean more rather than introducing a new one into the system.
Keeps another car out of the scrapyard
Around 1 million cars are scrapped each year, so even with 95% of each one being recycled that’s still a lot of vehicle parts and possible pollutants ending up in landfill.
Sometimes it’s unavoidable; old cars inevitably reach the end of their life. However, each time you choose a used car over a new car, you’re keeping it out of the scrapyard for as long as possible.
Benefits from a wider range of spare parts
Replacement of vehicle parts is an inevitable aspect of car ownership. The problem is, it can be pretty costly, especially for new models.
When your car is in for a repair and they need to order in replacement parts, you can request the garage use recycled parts which are much cheaper than brand new parts. If the garage can source the right parts and is prepared to fit them it should reduce your bill.
Because recycled parts come from end-of-life vehicles, they are Original Equipment and specific to a vehicle make and model, older cars benefit from a much larger pool of parts than new cars and your repairer is more likely to locate the right one.
New cars might be a little misleading with their fuel economy figures. According to the AA, the gap between the fuel consumption you really get compared with the official published figure can be up to 40%. In 2001, the difference was only 8%. A car that’s 3 to 5 years old might be around 25%.
While this doesn’t correlate directly to an environmental impact, the knowledge should help you manage fuel use more efficiently. If you keep your car well maintained there is also no reason why it should become less fuel efficient as it ages.
Hybrids and electric cars still have a way to go
If you really want to be environmentally friendly, then why not just choose a car that’s built for that very purpose?
Hybrids and electric vehicles do have lower emissions and better fuel mileage than regular cars, but they still have an environmental impact in other ways. Most hybrids use nickel-hydride and lithium-ion batteries, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, nickel is a probable human carcinogen and there are also environmental concerns regarding the mining required to create the batteries.
Electric cars also aren’t emission-free unless the electrical outlets charging them are connected to a renewable energy source. Unfortunately, it’s more likely that at this point in time that the electricity comes from a coal-burning power plant.
Or just keep your current car (unless it’s a diesel)
If you are considering changing cars simply because you’re bored with your current one, the most environmentally friendly option would be just sticking with it. Unless it’s a diesel. Did you know that recent European data shows that diesel cars emit 10 times more toxic pollution than trucks and buses?