Buying a more environmentally friendly car

Generally, smaller cars are more fuel-efficient and emit less CO2. So not only can you feel you’re helping the environment if you choose a smaller car, it’s likely to be cheaper to run too. The size of your car is also a factor when issuing a car insurance quote, so it could mean you get a cheaper rate from Churchill.

Buy a car with a 1.4-litre engine or smaller and you may find you could get cheaper road tax. However, bear in mind that the tax on newer cars is rated on emissions, so this will also have an impact on your tax costs. Once you’ve decided on the type of car you want, most models offer a range of engines that vary in terms of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. How much your car weighs is also related to how much fuel it uses – heavier ones use more.

Look at the label

If you want to buy a new car (on the whole, the newer the car, the better it is for the environment), you’ll find that most of those on display in car showrooms have a colour-coded fuel efficiency rating. The coding runs from band A to G. A and B represent the cars that emit the least CO2. The label also contains other information, such as the running costs you can expect for the car over 12,000 miles.

Though diesels can cost around £500 more than petrol cars, they use less fuel and so don’t give out as much CO2. However, petrol cars produce fewer toxic emissions and the fuel now tends to be cheaper. One way of deciding what would be the right choice for you is to think about where you do the majority of your driving. If it’s long distance or motorway driving, then the diesel engine may be best. Or if you’re mostly driving around town, a petrol engine might be better.

Greener fuel

You can also buy cars that run on a more environmentally friendly fuel, although these aren’t always easily available. Biofuels come from renewable sources. Liquid Petroleum Gas cars can’t be bought as new in the UK but petrol cars can be converted. These give off lower toxic emissions than diesel and older petrol engines, but fuel consumption is worse. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) operates quietly and emits fewer toxic chemicals than normal fuels. Many petrol and diesel engines can be converted to run on CNG.

Our friends electric

More and more car makers are producing cars that run wholly or partly on electricity. Find out more about hybrid and electric vehicles at (opens in a new window).

Remember, if buying a new car means dumping your old one, it should be taken to an Authorised Treatment Facility. There are over 1400 of these in the UK and they arrange for vehicles to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. The Cartakeback (opens in a new window) website will let you search for your nearest Authorised Treatment Facility.

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