5 Ways To Make Hybrid Cars Even More Eco-Friendly

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John Krafcik, president of TrueCars.com, told NPR that sales of "green" cars — whether hybrid, electric or plug-in — were down 5 percent from October 2013-14. Meanwhile SUV sales were up 20 percent and trucks saw a 17 percent increase in sales.

Some of this was due to lower prices at the pump, combined with consumers' selective memory when it comes to gas prices. Whether you're an environmentally conscious Prius owner or the big man on the block in your Escalade, all drivers can reduce their carbon footprints with a little effort.

Beat The Traffic App

Idling — sitting in traffic or running your engine without moving for 10 or more seconds — burns more gas and emits more carbon dioxide than starting the engine, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can avoid idling by being proactive with the routes you choose to take.

The Beat the Traffic app for iPhone and Android provides real-time traffic reports so you can choose the smoothest route. It allows users to save three different routes once they've driven them so you can choose the right one before puling out of the driveway. The app is free for both operating systems.

Low Rolling Resistance Tires

Hysteresis is the natural process of deformation and deflation of rubber. Cars with low rolling resistance "smart" tires are more energy-efficient and last longer.

The ContiEco Contact EP by Continental is an affordable option for smaller cars in temperate climates. Low rolling resistance tires are the future for all light vehicles, so more options will continue to become available.

Voltage Stabilizer

There are two types of voltage stabilizers: one connects directly to the positive and negative terminals of your battery, while the other plugs into your cigarette lighter. Both control electrical flow from the battery as it reaches the components it operates. A quality voltage stabilizer maintains a consistent flow of voltage, which subsequently decreases emissions and improves overall operations of electrical components in the vehicle.

Whether you choose the 12-volt or battery-mounted variety, both cost right around $30.

Pulse Spark Plugs

Spark plugs have been around for more than a century and virtually nothing has evolved as it pertains to the technology. Pulse plugs are the first major advancement.

Pulstar plugs use a fine-wire electrode that gives any vehicle better horsepower and fuel efficiency. You can expect a 10 percent increase in miles per gallon, better engine torque and lower overall carbon emissions just by installing these plugs. Pulse plugs are designed to last 100,000 miles and also come with a one-year warranty that covers all defects.

Common Sense

No matter what type of technology and gadgets you use on a vehicle, the way you drive and maintain your car ultimately determine fuel economy and carbon emissions.

Driving aggressively — speeding, slamming on brakes, etc. — burns more fuel. Keep your speed below 65 mph and maintain an adequate following distance to prevent hard braking. Remove excess weight from your vehicle. The more cargo you carry, the less miles per gallon you'll get. Use freeways as much as possible. Some commuters try and take short cuts by utilizing regular streets and avoiding rush-hour traffic. The starting and stopping, along with excessive idling, burns more fuel and leads to higher carbon emissions.

An eco-friendly vehicle depends on both its equipment and driver. Small changes in driving habits and car components can make a huge impact on the environment.

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