It’s no secret that tailpipe emissions from our cars and trucks are the top contributor to poor air quality in the winter. During temperature inversions, we watch as the soot pools in the valley floor, every trip to work or to the grocery store contributing a little more to the problem.
But where there are problems, there are opportunities. According to Envision Utah/Utah DAQ projections, cars are the single biggest opportunity for improvement in our air quality because of the pace of change in technology. While other methods to improve air quality will include a buffet approach —piecing together dozens of strategies from lowering our thermostats to upgrading our window insulation — there is a quick, inexpensive fix for our cars: tier 3 vehicles.
Starting with 2017 model year cars, car manufacturers in concert with the EPA will begin to phase in Tier 3. Tier 3 is a fleet average for a cleaner vehicles rolling off auto-lots nationwide. The equation is simple: get more cars that emit less from their tailpipes on the road, and the average emissions from the vehicle fleet will decrease, and our air quality will improve.
But we have an additional challenge in Utah. Utah is growing faster than almost every other state, which mean that even though technology is improving, we will simply have more and more cars on the road. If these cars aren’t as clean as possible, we may offset some of the benefits of cleaner technology. How can we address this? Speed up the adoption of cleaner cars and quickly get as many clean cars in Utah as we can.
So the next time you visit your auto dealer, ask about smog ratings.
Ask them about smog ratings. The price difference is often nominal, but the impact in smog ratings can’t be understated. The average car sold in Utah today has a smog rating of 6. That’s not bad, but an 8 is a full 70% cleaner could average smog ratings of 8 across the state that would be the same as taking nearly three out of every four vehicles off the road. These cars are available, but you’ll need to ask. Look at the window stickers, and when given the choice between two cars of the same model, ALWAYS go for the one with the better, higher smog rating.
Clean air is something we all value, and we can all contribute to cleaner, healthier air. No single act will improve air quality more than buying the cleanest possible car that suits the needs of you and your family. If you’re looking to buy a new car, keep in mind those smog ratings. Your lungs but more importantly your and grandchildren — will thank you.