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How to reduce your car's emissions (and pass the NCT in the process)

Here’s what you can do to make your motor as clean and efficient as possible.
Aug 20th 2018, 1:17 PM 52,879 3

LAST WEEK MY own car had its NCT and it failed on the emissions test. The emissions test measures the levels of certain gases or particulates (for diesel engines) emitted by the vehicle under defined test conditions.

I have spent the last week trying to bring the emissions down to the acceptable level.

If you are in a similar situation, or your vehicle is due its NCT soon, here are some things that you can do to reduce emissions and hopefully pass this part of the NCT.

Repair the exhaust

Inspect your exhaust and repair any holes that you see. My car is 22 years old and this is the first time holes have appeared in the exhaust. The mechanic I brought my car to cut out a section of the old exhaust and fitted a new one. It cost €150 but I’m sure if you shop around you can get this done for cheaper, I just went local and didn’t argue the cost. The mechanic retested the emissions and this reduced them but it was still above the NCT levels.

Get a service

You don’t necessarily need a full service to reduce emissions, but what you should do is get an oil change and change the oil filter too. This will get rid of any gunk or contaminants in the oil and a clean filter will work more effectively.

Changing the air filter too will also help reduce emissions. A new air filter will be more effective at keeping dirt out of the car engine, making the car run more efficiently and producing a much cleaner exhaust.

Fuel additives 

You can buy fuel additives that are supposed to burn fuel more effectively. The additives burn the carbons that would normally cause carbon deposit build-up. This is suppose to extend both the life of your car’s oil and engine. The additives are not only suppose to increase fuel economy but reduce emissions too. So people swear by them, and others, like my mechanic, don’t recommend them. My mechanic told me to run the additive out of my tank before the NCT retest.

Use better quality fuel

Before learning about the ‘Super’ and ‘Premium’ fuel types, my fuel choice was based on which petrol station had the cheapest fuel and I didn’t car about the quality of fuel in the pump. However, higher-grade fuels contain cleaning chemicals which can remove dirt and build up which will automatically improve emissions. These cleaning agents are similar to those found in gasoline additives. So, instead of using additive and premium fuel, I am just using the better quality fuel.

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Inflate tyres

Make sure you inflate the tyres to the highest recommended pressure. This will make them spin easier, which puts less stress on the engine, which in turn causes the engine to burn cleaner at a given speed.

Before the test

When you are driving to the test centre, try and take a spin on a motorway or dual carriageway to get the engine up to operating temperature. Drive in third gear for a while and try to keep at high revs, at least 2,000rpm. Getting your car up to optimal operating temperature should help with the emissions’ reading.

A warm engine has more complete combustion, which burns more hydrocarbons in the process. Also, an engine taking in cooler, denser air runs more efficiently.

READ: Pope my Ride: the new Popemobile is rapid >

READ: Help! I’m looking for a small car suitable for just one person >

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Melanie May


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