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Green car maintenance solutions - Vinegar radiator flush and more

Keep your engine cleaner with green methods!
Keep your engine cleaner with green methods!
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

We Americans have a love affair with our cars. Green car maintenance is an inexpensive way to cut down on the environmental hazards of vehicle ownership. A large percentage of U.S. environmental pollution can be attributed to cars. Not all of us can afford newer models with updated environmental controls. It's a good thing that we can at least implement green car maintenance.

Vinegar radiator flush

We all know how toxic radiator fluid, or antifreeze is. There are less toxic alternatives to conventional antifreeze. These are still toxic to some degree. Fortunately, there is a simple non-toxic radiator flush that works well as a green car maintenance solution. It's called white vinegar. Next time your radiator needs flushing, mix white distilled vinegar with an equal amount of water as a radiator flush.


Here's how to implement this green car maintenance solution: Open and drain the radiator fluid into a pan for recycling. Close the drain and fill the radiator with the vinegar solution. Start the engine and run until warm. Let it cool. Drain out the vinegar solution. This acid soak will loosen any chemical build up. Flush the residue out (drain open) with good old H20. Close the drain, re-fill the radiator and you're good to go.

Windshield washer fluid

Once again, it's vinegar to the rescue. For this green car maintenance solution, pour ½ cup vinegar into the wiper fluid reservoir. Now fill to the line with plain water. Vinegar is a natural antifreeze. It isn't strong enough to use as radiator fluid but it will help keep windows from fogging. It's also a streak free window cleaner.

Green car wash

Pour ½ cup vinegar into a 5 gallon bucket. Add water to fill. This solution gets your car clean without soapy detergent washing off into our water supply. Clear vinegar in a spray bottle will quickly remove bugs.

Note: Soak orange peels in olive oil for an effective tar and tree gum remover.

Green car wax

No vinegar this time. Just good old beeswax. Simply heat ¼ cup of beeswax. Mix with ½ cup vegetable or olive oil. Pour into a Tupperware container and you have one of the best car waxes out there. Use just as you would a commercial wax. Rub in gentle circles on a dry car. If you don't mind spending a little more, you can use the melted beeswax alone for an even better finish.


Due to the disappearance of honeybees, it's more eco-friendly to leave bee products for the bees. So, for an even greener choice, use coconut oil in place of the beeswax.

Battery terminal cleaner

If your car won't start due to corroded battery connections, try this simple trick. Just mix 1 tsp of baking soda in an 8 ounce glass of water. Pour small amounts at a time onto the battery terminals until the corrosion bubbles away. Not at home? Buy plain seltzer water from a convenience store. It does the same thing. Nowhere near civilization, but you're a soda pop addict? Carbonated drinks work too. Don't forget to rinse off the sticky residue with plain soda water as soon as you get to civilization!

Green car parts cleaner

Cleaning built up grease and grime on that old jalopy you're fixing up? Need a green car maintenance solution? Clean metal car parts with vinegar and baking soda. Place parts in a metal tub or bucket. Fill the bucket with vinegar. Add baking soda until you see a bubbling action. Wait a couple minutes. Remove the parts and wipe clean. Presto, shiny new parts for your older car without harmful chemicals.

Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a closed Yahoo! property.

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