Transportation | Ecotrope

What's Your Car's Air Pollution Score?

Ecotrope | Aug. 23, 2012 1:52 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:30 p.m.

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How much air pollution does your car create relative to others on the market? The EPA has a site that will give your car an "air pollution score." I saw this bumper sticker on a fellow hiker's water bottle last week and had to snap a picture.

How much air pollution does your car create relative to others on the market? The EPA has a site that will give your car an “air pollution score.” I saw this bumper sticker on a fellow hiker's water bottle last week and had to snap a picture.

Thanks to OPB’s Amanda Peacher for filling for me on the blog last week. In case you missed it, she posted a link to a slideshow of people who live car-free.

I do not fall in the car-free category (though I did ride my bike to work today). So I was pleased to find this online tool on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website that rates individual cars based on their emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollution.

The tool assigns air pollution and greenhouse gas scores to specific makes and models of cars. My 2004 Subaru Outback wagon got a D- (6 out of 10) on both. It generates 5.2 pounds of smog-forming pollution and 7.3 tons of greenhouse gases per year. Not so great.

By comparison, a 2004 Prius hybrid (which is admittedly a very different ride with two-wheel drive and smaller engine) got a B- (8 out of 10) on its air pollution score and an A+ (10 out of 10) for its greenhouse gas score. (Really? A hybrid gets a perfect score?) The 2004 Prius emits 2.81 pounds of smog-forming pollution and 3.23 tons of greenhouse gases. So, roughly half of what my Subaru does.

You can have some fun with the tool; it will compare different makes and models and different fuel types. I’m still scratching my head over why the 2012 Subaru Outback wagon scores worse than my 2004 model (Maybe it has something to do with the change from a station wagon to a sports utility vehicle?). It got a failing 5 out of 10! Here’s the comparison I did:

According to the EPA, my current vehicle, a 2004 Subaru Outback wagon, is cleaner than the 2012 version. But even so, my car gets a D-. 

According to the EPA, my current vehicle, a 2004 Subaru Outback wagon, is cleaner than the 2012 version. But even so, my car gets a D-. 

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