Cars with smokey tailpipes are one of the most common causes of carbon emissions. In the United States, cars and trucks account for about one-fifth of all emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The average passenger car emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, while the average sport utility vehicle (SUV) emits about 8.9 metric tons.

In the United States, a typical automobile on the road emits 650 grams of CO2 each kilometer. The higher emissions generally accrue to larger vehicles. In Europe, the average emissions for a new petrol car in 2018 was 123g of CO2/km.

With global warming and climate change being such huge topics of concern, it’s important to know where these emissions are coming from and what we can do to reduce them.

Mind blowing, right?

Car Emissions? (What are they?)

Emissions are any chemicals in exhaust gases that harm air quality, particularly carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC), as well as nitrogen oxides (NO).

What Gas Do Cars Emit?

Healthy engines produce less emissions, while older or “unhealthy” engines generate more.

The main pollutant from cars are:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Hydrocarbons (HC)
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx)

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that is naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun’s rays inside the Earth’s atmosphere, making the planet warmer.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced when carbon-containing fuels are not burned completely.

Hydrocarbons (HC)

Hydrocarbons (HC) are molecules consisting of both carbon and hydrogen atoms.

They are found in petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are a group of closely related gases that contain nitrogen and oxygen atoms.

NOx emissions can come from both mobile sources, like cars and trucks, and stationary sources, like power plants.

How Do Cars Produce Emissions?

Cars produce emissions as a result of the combustion process that takes place in the engine.

Combustion is a chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidizer (usually oxygen from the air) that produces heat and light.

During the Combustion Process

When it comes to car emissions, there are three main things that contribute: the fuel itself, the engine, and the way the car is driven.

The fuel itself is the first thing that contributes to emissions. The fuel is what burns in the engine to create the energy that moves the car.

The type of fuel will have a big impact on emissions.

The second thing that contributes to emissions is the engine itself. The engine is what takes the fuel and uses it to create energy.

The way the engine is designed and how well it is maintained will have an impact on emissions.

The third thing that contributes to emissions is the way the car is driven. The way the car is driven will affect how much fuel is used and how much emissions are produced.

Taxi’s Have the Most Emissions

Out of all of the cars on the road, taxi’s have the most emissions.

This is because like most public transport systems they are driven for long periods of time and they carry a lot of passengers.

The more people that are in a car, the more weight the car has to carry, and the more fuel it will use.

They also have a horrible habit of sitting idling in traffic, which wastes a lot of fuel and produces a lot of emissions.

What Can Be Done To Reduce Emissions?

There are a few things that can be done to reduce emissions from cars:

  • Use a cleaner-burning fuel.
  • Drive less.
  • Keep your car well maintained.
  • Drive more efficiently.
  • Go electric (BEV).

Use a Cleaner Burning Fuel

One way to reduce emissions from cars is to use a cleaner-burning fuel. Cleaner burning fuels include things like natural gas, propane, and electricity.

Drive Less

Another way to reduce emissions from cars is to drive less. This can be done by carpooling, using public transportation, or simply driving less overall.

Keep Your Car Well Maintained

Keeping your car well maintained is another way to reduce emissions. Things like regularly changing your oil and air filter can help keep your car running more efficiently and produce fewer emissions.

Drive More Efficiently

Driving more efficiently is another way to reduce emissions from cars. This can be done by things like avoiding sudden accelerations and braking, and planning your routes so you can avoid congested areas.

Go Electric (BEV)

One of the best ways to reduce emissions from cars is to go electric. Electric cars have zero emissions and are much more efficient than gas or diesel-powered cars.

Depending on which country you live in, there are also a number of government incentives available to encourage people to switch to electric cars.

Electric cars are the future of transportation and are crucial in reducing emissions from cars.


Are combustion engines bad for the environment?

Pollutants in vehicle emissions can harm lung tissue and cause or exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma. Motor vehicle pollution also contributes to acid rain formation. Pollution negatively affects the environment by releasing greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.

How Much Co2 Does A Car Emit Per Mile?

In the third quarter of 2021, average carbon dioxide emissions from newly registered cars were 116.2g/km, which is 35% lower than in 2001—a decrease of 35% over 20 years. On a mile basis, the average new car now emits around 185 grams per mile.

What is the Co2 Emissions Per Gallon Of Gas?

The CO2 emissions from petrol and diesel are about 2.4 kg per litre, or 10.9 kg per gallon for petrol and 11.7 kg per gallon for diesel (1 gallon is 4.546 litres).

How do you calculate emissions from a car?

To calculate the emissions from a car, you need to know the fuel efficiency of the car and the amount of fuel that is being burned.
The fuel efficiency of a car is the number of miles that the car can travel on a gallon of fuel.
To calculate emissions, you multiply the fuel efficiency by the amount of fuel that is being burned.
For example, if a car has a fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon and it burns 1 gallon of fuel, the emissions would be 30 pounds of CO2.

How much co2 does a bus produce compared to a car?

A car releases 89 pounds of CO2 each 100 passenger kilometers, whereas a full bus emits just 14 pounds per 100 passengers traveled. This implies that a bus produces about 1/6th of the emissions of a car with one occupant.

What percentage of carbon pollution is caused by cars?

Air pollution from cars, trucks, lorries, buses and other road vehicles accounts for about 30% of global carbon emissions. 72 percent of these emissions are produced by road transportation – primarily automobiles, vans, trucks, buses, and other vehicles. Road transport’s air pollution consists of a variety of pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), black carbon particulates, and other particulate matter (PM). All of these pollutants contribute to harmful air quality and climate change.

What are the benefits of electric cars?

Electric cars have many benefits over traditional gasoline-powered cars. They emit zero emissions, they’re more efficient, they’re cheaper to operate and maintain, and they have a smaller environmental impact.

How much carbon dioxide does an electric car emit?

Electric cars produce zero emissions. The emissions come from the power plant that produces the electricity to charge the car.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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