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How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint from Driving

Climate change is no longer something that will affect us in the future. It’s something we’re seeing affect us today in real-time with wild and unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels, and melting ice caps. It can be overwhelming to think about. Unfortunately, one of the most common ways individuals add to the problem is by driving. In fact, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data, the transportation sector has the highest share of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) at 29%. On top of that, the EPA states that a passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. If you want to take action against car pollution and move the needle forward, here’s how to reduce your carbon footprint from your car.

How to Reduce Carbon Footprint From Your Car | Metromile

Reduce how much you drive 

The most simple solution to reducing car pollution is to drive less. Easier said than done in some cases, especially depending on where you live, but here are some things to consider for each trip:

EPA data states that, on average, passenger cars emit 404 grams of CO2 per mile. If driving less seems complicated, see if you can commit to one day a week. Not driving for one day and opting for biking or walking can cut your emissions, according to transport study data published in Science Daily. According to the data, doing this can reduce your carbon footprint by .5 tons of CO2 emissions a year. 

Drive efficiently 

How much you drive is an important factor when it comes to car pollution. But if you’re looking for more air pollution solutions, looking at how you drive — and not just how much — is also important. 

Going too fast and hitting the brakes can be dangerous, but it’s also inefficient and can waste gas and harm the environment. 

According to, “Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds, and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.” 

So if you want to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint, drive at the regular speed, brake on time, and ease into accelerating. 

Be a more mindful driver 

Sometimes a little mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to reducing car pollution. That means becoming a smart driver and being more mindful of your trips and how it impacts the environment. 

For example, if you don’t have to drive during rush hour, wait a bit longer. Sitting in traffic can hurt your gas mileage. 

Also, think about your trips and errands. Can you batch errands and make less frequent trips? Additionally, remove any excess weight that is weighing your car down. According to, “An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by about 1%.”

Keep your car in good shape 

Just like it’s essential to keep your physical health in good shape, you want to keep your car in good condition as well. That means performing regular car maintenance like oil changes, changing your air and oil filters, and more. According to

  • Fixing an oxygen sensor can improve mileage by up to 40%
  • Having proper tire pressure can improve gas mileage between 0.6% up to 3%
  • Using the recommended manufacturer’s motor oil, you can improve gas mileage 1% to 2%

Maintaining your car has an impact on your gas mileage, which is measured by the term miles per gallon (MPG). According to data from the EPA, the tailpipe CO2 emissions from burning one gas gallon is 8,887 grams CO2. Keeping your car running well may improve your MPG and be a way to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Swap your car for a greener option 

If your current car is a gas guzzler and doesn’t get great mileage and you want to reduce your carbon footprint, consider swapping it out for something that’s more environmentally friendly. 

You can choose from:


As you can see from the chart above, the higher the MPG, the lower the amount of greenhouse gases. The converse is also true, with lower MPG leading to higher amounts of greenhouse gases. 

An electric vehicle will have no tailpipe emissions, but the car may create other emissions depending on how the electricity is powered as well as in the manufacturing phase. 


Using this tool from the Alternative Fuels Data Center from the Department of Energy, you can see common electricity sources as well as emissions by type of vehicle. As you can see, all electric still wins out. 

If you’re unsure of what type of vehicle to look for and want more information, check out this Green Vehicle Guide by the EPA. 

Avoid idling 

You might think you need to “warm-up” the car in the morning or feel like you’ll just keep the car running for a bit while you make a quick stop or wait for someone. But it’s best to avoid idling completely when it comes to your car. According to, “Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner (AC) use.”

Remember the scary stat earlier about how burning one gallon of gas created 8,887 grams of CO2? Idling can get you a quarter to halfway there then, so it’s definitely something you want to avoid. Just stop the car. 

The bottom line 

Car pollution is a big issue in the fight against climate change. If you want to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint, taking these steps will be a good start. For more information, you can check out the EPA’s Carbon Footprint Calculator to see where you stand. Also, if it’s possible and easier for you, simply drive less to lower your environmental impact. If that’s possible, you can benefit from pay-per-mile auto insurance coverage. You pay for gas by the gallon, so it makes sense to buy insurance by the miles you drive. Using Metromile, you pay for each mile you drive and a base rate, so you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Get a free quote today. 

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Naturalist David Attenborough has called climate change “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced.” Fortunately, while some consequences of climate change, such as rising seas and coasting flooding, are irreversible, it’s not all bad news. According to NASA, “it may not be too late to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change.” However, it’ll take a good amount of effort from governments and individuals alike.

It may not feel like you can fix climate change by yourself, but reducing your personal carbon footprint is a good place to start. Below, we’ll cover a few changes you can make in each major area of your life — transit, home life, food, and clothing — to do so.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint | Metromile


Out of all the air pollution solutions we’ll cover in this article, rethinking how you travel may be the most impactful.

  • According to the American Public Transportation Agency, “the private vehicle is the largest contributor to a household’s carbon footprint.” As such, one of the biggest things you can do to reduce air pollution is to drive less. In fact, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 17% just by reducing your driving by 2,000 miles per year.
  • For short trips, walking or biking are great eco-friendly options. For longer trips, switching to public transportation might be more practical. The APTA notes that “a single person, commuting alone by car, who switches a 20-mile round trip commute to existing public transportation, can reduce his or her annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 pounds per year, equal to a 10% reduction in all greenhouse gases produced by a typical two-adult, two-car household. By eliminating one car and taking public transportation instead of driving, a savings of up to 30% of carbon dioxide emissions can be realized.”
  • If you can’t go completely carless, there’s another thing you can do: drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid or electric car. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, even when accounting for the electricity used to charge these vehicles, they still usually have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline cars because they typically produce less tailpipe emissions.
  • Finally, flying less can also dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. While you probably don’t fly as much as you drive, the BBC says that “mile for mile, flying is the most damaging way to travel for the climate.” 

Again, you don’t have to cut all flights out of your life to help the environment. As one round-trip flight between California and New York can generate around 20% of the greenhouse gasses your car emits in a year, even cutting one flight can make a big difference. And if that’s not doable, you can also make other changes, such as flying nonstop, flying when it’s cooler, flying coach, and supporting airlines that use more efficient fuel. 


Being mindful of the food you eat — and how you shop for it — can also reduce your carbon footprint. Some of the most impactful food-related changes you can make include:

  • Eating less meat. According to Green America, a recent study found that “each meat-eater is responsible for 1.5 more tons of greenhouse gases than a vegan per year.” But you don’t have to go cold turkey (pun intended) to make a difference — even cutting back on your meat consumption, switching to poultry instead of red meat, or eating animals lower on the food chain, such as mackerel, can help.
  • Eating locally. Did you know food travels an average of 1500 miles to get from the farm to your plate? Eating seasonal, local food can help limit your “food miles” and reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 7%.
  • Avoiding plastic whenever possible. Around 4% of the world’s petroleum is used to produce plastic. Instead of buying flimsy plastic bags from the grocery store that you’ll likely throw out after one use, try switching to reusable shopping bags. Also, avoid plastic tableware and products with excessive plastic packaging whenever you can, and recycle the plastic if the label says it’s recyclable.
  • Only buying what you need. Food waste is a huge problem, with Americans wasting 40% of the food they buy on average. Wasting less food can reduce methane emissions from landfills and help conserve energy and resources, both of which can lower your carbon footprint. A few things you can do to lower your food waste include making (and sticking to) a list when you go grocery shopping, avoiding bulk purchases you wouldn’t be able to finish before they spoil, and reusing or freezing leftovers. 

Home life

According to a recent study, energy use in homes accounts for around 20% of US greenhouse gas emissions. There are two main ways you can go about lowering your energy consumption:

  • Using less energy: This includes tactics such as turning off lights when you leave a room, unplugging electrical devices you rarely use, and turning down the heat.
  • Making your home more efficient: This strategy often requires an upfront cost but can pay off in the long run. Some ideas include sealing windows, switching to LED lights, replacing old appliances, and planting greenery around your house.
  • Another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint in your home life? Recycling. As the National Institutes of Health explains, “Recycling saves non-renewable resources. For example, by not recycling paper, 80% more wood will need to be harvested… to meet growing paper consumption demands. However, through active paper recycling, only 20% more wood will need to be harvested.”
    But paper isn’t the only thing you can recycle. Many communities make it easy to recycle everything from batteries to beverage containers, electronics, plastic, organic material, and more. However, the EPA found that in 2018, paper recycling reduced the largest portion of municipal solid waste — 46 million tons — which is roughly equivalent to removing over 33 million vehicles from the road for a year!


  • The fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions, as it takes tons of energy to produce, manufacture, and transport garments. In fact, it takes around 713 gallons (2,700 liters) of water just to produce a simple cotton t-shirt.
  • One of the most helpful changes you can make clothing-wise is to buy used clothing from thrift stores or online platforms such as thredUP. By buying secondhand, you can give clothes another life and divert them from the landfill, where they’d take a long time to deteriorate. Additionally, it can help reduce the clothing industry’s overall emissions, as the fewer new clothes people buy, the fewer clothes they need to make.
  • If you’re uncomfortable wearing someone else’s clothes, you can also support apparel companies that prioritize sustainability and choose fabrics that have a lower environmental impact, such as wool.

Bottom line

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to drive less. But helping fight climate change isn’t the only benefit of cutting back on miles. In addition to saving money on gas, driving less can also lower your car insurance bill if you switch to a pay-per-mile model with Metromile. In fact, our customers save an average of 47% compared to what they were paying their previous auto insurance provider. Get a free quote to see how much you could save — while saving the planet — today.

*Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.

Are Electric Cars Actually Better for The Environment?

There’s no doubt that climate change is one of the most pressing concerns of our time. As an individual, that means not just thinking about our carbon footprint but also our “climate shadow”. According to this Mic article, climate journalist Emma Pattee explains that your climate shadow refers to “how the sum of our life’s choices influence the climate emergency.” One action you may consider taking to reduce your environmental impact is to trade in your gas guzzler for an electric vehicle. But are electric cars better for the environment? The answer is generally “yes,” but it is more nuanced than that. Read on to learn more about what to consider.

Are Electric Cars Better for The Environment? | Metromile

Are electric cars more environmentally friendly than gas cars? 

If you’re considering switching to an electric vehicle and in the research phase, you want to know if electric cars are better for the environment. 

When it comes to emissions while driving, the answer is a definitive “yes”. Electric vehicles (EV) have zero tailpipe emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

On top of that, electric vehicles are more energy-efficient, with stating, “Electric vehicles (EVs) are more efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. An EV electric drive system is only responsible for a 15% to 20% energy loss compared to 64% to 75% for a gasoline engine.”

These two significant points make electric vehicles an attractive option. On the surface, it makes them more environmentally friendly as well, but there’s more to it. 

Though electric cars have no tailpipe emissions, they may add carbon pollution based on how the electricity is generated to charge the car. 

For example, if the electricity that charges the vehicle comes from sources like natural gas or coal, then there will be some carbon pollution. However, if the electricity comes from renewable sources such as solar power or wind, there won’t be added pollution. 

Unfortunately, if you’re in the U.S., fossil fuels are the main way electricity gets powered. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as of 2020, roughly 61% of electricity was generated from fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, as well as petroleum. Approximately 20% of electricity was generated via renewable resources.

So while electric vehicles are beneficial due to the lack of emissions, it’s essential to look at the bigger picture. The energy source fueling the electricity can be somewhat problematic. But there’s some good news. 

The EPA combats the myth that electric vehicles are worse for the climate and unequivocally states, “Electric vehicles typically have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline cars, even when accounting for the electricity used for charging.”

How does the way electric cars are made affect the environment? 

Electric vehicles may have fewer emissions and be better for the environment, but what about the way they’re made? 

There are growing concerns about manufacturing electric vehicles, especially as it relates to the environmental impact of electric car batteries. The “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave: How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions” report (pg 31) states:

“The largest manufacturing difference between gasoline and electric cars, of course, is the production of the lithium-ion battery. Emissions from producing the battery come from extracting raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, copper, and iron ores, processing these materials into finished metals, and then fabricating them into the parts of the battery. Finally, when the battery is assembled and installed in the car, there are global warming emissions from the assembly.”

Though the manufacturing of electric vehicles may contribute to global warming, the report also states, “On average, battery-electric vehicles have much lower global warming emissions than comparable gasoline vehicles, despite higher emissions from vehicle manufacturing.” (pg 31)

The EPA agrees, showing lower greenhouse gases (GHG) for the lifecycle of an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline vehicle. 

When considering emissions, you can look at direct emissions, which relate to tailpipe emissions, as well as do a lifecycle analysis to look at emissions throughout the manufacturing and production process.

As you can see in the image below, taking into account total greenhouse gases from manufacturing and end-of-life (which includes recycling and disposal) as well as operation, electric vehicles still have fewer overall emissions. 

Source/credit: EPA

So while electric cars aren’t entirely without a carbon footprint or emission-free, from a lifecycle perspective, it has fewer emissions and may be the lesser of two evils. 

Are electric car batteries recycled?

As noted above, there are concerns about the environmental impact of electric car batteries. Manufacturing them can lead to more emissions, but through the overall lifecycle, it still comes out as a win. 

But as electric vehicles grow in popularity, a new problem has come to the forefront — how to recycle all of the lithium batteries. An article on notes that many current electric vehicle batteries aren’t set up to be recycled, which only adds to the problem as more electric vehicles hit the market. 

Given this issue, the U.S. government is working to create solutions with the ReCell Center, an initiative by the Department of Energy (DOE) that helps recycle lithium-ion batteries

A CNBC article notes that car manufacturer Ford is working with a startup to reuse the materials from electric vehicle batteries. 

Currently, there isn’t a perfect solution to this issue but according to the EPA, it’s a work-in-progress. The EPA website notes, “Recycling EV batteries can reduce the emissions associated with making an EV by reducing the need for new materials. While some challenges exist today, research is ongoing to improve the process and rate of EV battery recycling.”

Are electric vehicles better for the environment if they’re not zero emissions?

If you’re thinking of buying an electric car, consider the pros and cons first. If your primary reason for going electric is the environment, you might wonder, “Are electric vehicles better for the environment if they’re not zero emissions?”

Based on the data above, it’s clear that in many cases, the answer is still “yes”. While EVs have no emissions while driving, they still create emissions in the manufacturing process.  

The Wall Street Journal worked with researchers at the University of Toronto to compile data about electric vehicle vs gas CO2 emissions and created an interactive illustration with their findings. For their example, they compared a Tesla Model 3 and Toyota Rav4. 

Based on The Wall Street Journal data, we’ve included the chart below. 

Distance Driven (miles)
CO2 emissions
Electric carTraditional car
0 (manufacturing plant) 12.2 tons7.4 tons
20,60014.7 tons14.7 tons
100,00024.1 tons42.7 tons 
200,00036.0 tons 78.0 tons 

As you can see, in the manufacturing plant, the electric car creates more emissions at first. What’s interesting is at the 20,600 mileage point, both cars are even. After that point, the electric car continues to have fewer emissions than its gas counterpart. 

So even if EVs aren’t zero-emission, the data shows that they can be a better alternative than traditional cars in the long run. 

The bottom line 

If you’re thinking of opting for an electric vehicle, it’s natural to wonder “Are electric cars better for the environment?”. While there are concerns about the environmental impact of electric car batteries, it’s an issue that is being addressed and in the long run, EVs have fewer emissions. Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to drive less. If you’re a low-mileage driver, then it makes sense to switch to pay-per-mile car insurance. Why pay for miles you aren’t driving, when you can pay only for the miles you actually drive, plus an affordable base rate? Check out your potential savings with a quote from Metromile

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

What Are the Carb States and What Does Carb Compliant Mean?

Imagine that you’re living in Los Angeles in the 1940s. You leave your home to go to the market, but you can barely see your surrounding environment due to an influx of smog. You can only see three blocks ahead of you. You feel the piercing, burning pain in your eyes and feel unwell taking in whatever is in the air. You wonder if there is a chemical attack or something else, but whatever it is, it’s not pleasant and affecting your environment (literally). 

While this may sound like some sort of fiction, this actually happened in 1943 in Los Angeles. After thinking it was a nearby plant causing the problem, it was later realized that smog from cars was the primary culprit. That incident caused a domino effect in Los Angeles with the city creating the Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District and by 1967 establishing the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Now, California has some of the strictest requirements when it comes to smog and emissions, thanks to CARB. As a driver, you may come across this term and wonder what is CARB and what does CARB compliant mean? We’ve broken it down for you in this brief guide. 

What CARB and CARB Compliant Actually Means | Metromile

What does CARB refer to? 

If you’ve seen the acronym CARB related to cars, you probably understand it’s not related to carbs like pasta or bread. CARB refers to the California Air Resources Board and is the state of California’s agency that was created to help combat air pollution in 1967. 

What’s important to note is that California has been a leader in combatting the effects of air pollution and is a trailblazer in the field. The federal Clean Air Act noticed California’s efforts and aimed to reduce air pollution on a national level — while giving California the ability to set its own unique and even stricter standards for emission regulations. 

Since its inception, CARB has done many notable things to reduce emissions including:

  • Setting the nation’s first tailpipe emission standards
  • Creating nationwide standards related to vehicle greenhouse gas emissions
  • Regulations related to manufacturers creating more zero-emission vehicles (ZEV)
  • Eliminating lead in gasoline 
  • Creating new standards for clean-burning fuel 

On top of that, CARB was given the responsibility of monitoring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change in the 2000s. As you can see, the agency has done a lot to help the state of California and is a leader on the national stage when it comes to setting standards related to air pollution. 

What is CARB compliant?

The state agency CARB recently made changes where certain vehicles must be deemed ‘CARB compliant’. But what is carb compliant, exactly?

As of 2020, the Department of Motor Vehicles, in collaboration with CARB, began verifying compliance with certain vehicles to ensure certain standards were met. It is specifically related to a Truck and Bus Regulation to get emissions up-to-date to current standards. 

This is geared toward diesel trucks and buses, so not necessarily the everyday passenger car. To become CARB compliant, drivers must replace their 2010 or older trucks or buses or use an acceptable alternative while reporting as part of the Truck Regulation Upload, Compliance and Reporting System (TRUCRS).

If you need to become CARB compliant and don’t, the DMV may place a hold on your registration. Additionally, if you need assistance to make that happen there are CARB compliant funding programs that can help you out listed here. 

CARB compliant can also refer to other things that are not motor vehicles such as generators, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other types of power equipment. CARB has specific regulations for those items to help reduce pollution. 

Which states are considered CARB states? 

While CARB refers to the California Air Resources Board, other states have joined forces to adopt similar emission standards in their own states. As noted above, California has the ability to set stricter standards and other states are following suit with their own clean air programs. 

Currently, there are 14 other CARB states plus the District of Columbia that have adopted California’s emission standards. The CARB states (aside from California) include:

  1. Colorado
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Maine
  5. Maryland
  6. Massachusetts
  7. New Jersey
  8. New York 
  9. Oregon
  10. Pennsylvania
  11. Rhode Island
  12. Vermont
  13. Virginia 
  14. Washington 
  15. Washington D.C. 

There are other states such as Minnesota, New Mexico, as well as Nevada that are working toward passing legislation to become CARB states. 


CARB refers to the California Air Resources Board whereas the EPA refers to the Environmental Protection Agency. Both entities work toward reducing air pollution and emissions but have some differences. 

CARB is the state agency in California and the EPA is the federal agency overseeing things nationwide. As noted previously, CARB can have even tougher requirements than the EPA though. California and other CARB states must abide by CARB compliance, whereas other states would have to defer to the emission standards set by the EPA. 

The bottom line 

If you see the term CARB or have a requirement to become CARB compliant, now you have an idea of what it all means. The state agency has paved the way for other CARB states to reduce air pollution and emissions and create a world that is healthier and safer for you and the environment. 

If you’re a low-mileage driver, see how you can reduce emissions and save money with pay-per-mile auto insurance through Metromile. Grab a free quote to see how much you could save. 

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

Everything You Need to Know About Smog Checks

Depending on where you live and what type of car you have, you might be required to get a smog check. A smog check is sometimes referred to as a smog inspection or emissions testing and is designed to help limit air pollution and make sure your car is compliant with certain standards. If you need to get a smog check, you probably have some questions about the process. Read on to learn what you should know about smog checks and how they work.

What is A Smog Check, Explained | Metromile

What is a smog check? 

Smog checks were first created in the state of California in 1984 to help combat poor air quality and air pollution (more on that later). 

As of 1990, The Clean Air Act vowed to reduce toxic air emissions and part of that is through smog checks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates air emissions in passenger vehicles in the following ways, according to their website:

  • Standards for exhaust and evaporative emissions;
  • Control of hazardous air pollutants and air toxics; 
  • National Low Emission Vehicle Program;
  • CAP 2000 (Compliance Assurance Program);
  • Onboard refueling vapor recovery; and
  • Inspection and maintenance.

But what is a smog check, exactly? A smog check is a type of inspection that looks at a vehicle’s exhaust and pollution risk. According to, a website in collaboration with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) and the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC), smog checks include the following:

  • A visual inspection, to look over your emissions systems 
  • A functional inspection, which checks out the ignition timing, engine light, exhaust gas, smoke, fuel evaporation, and the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system 
  • An emissions inspection with the tailpipe 

After the smog inspection is completed, you’ll get a Vehicle Inspection Report (VIR) which shares the result of the test and if approved, you’ll also receive a certificate that shows you’re in compliance with local authorities. 

Not all vehicles or even all states require a smog check or require that you do all the steps above. Each state has different standards and requirements, so it’s best to check with your local transportation authority such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

Certain states like California have some of the toughest inspection requirements, thanks to the widespread smog making visibility difficult in 1943.  

Changes came about in 1967 with the Mulford-Carrell Air Resources Act, which created the State Air Resources Board. On top of that, the Federal Air Quality Act was passed that same year, allowing California to set its own stricter standards to help combat air pollution. 

How long does a smog check take?

If you need to get a smog check but you’re a busy person and need to fit it in your schedule, you probably are curious and wonder just how long does a smog check take? The good news is the process isn’t too long. Of course, the actual time can vary based on the smog check testing site but in general a smog check should take 20 to 30 minutes. 

How much does a smog check cost?

We all know that owning a car comes with expenses like paying for gas, car insurance, maintenance, repairs — oh and actually paying for the car, either outright or through monthly payments. Well, you can add a smog check to the expense list but the good news is it’s not terribly expensive. 

If you’re wondering how much does a smog check cost, according to, the average cost of a smog check can range from $29.95 to $89.95 depending on where you live and what is required as part of the inspection. 

That’s just the cost of the test though. If you don’t pass the smog check, you may need to pay for repairs. However, there may be limits in place and additional support if you need it. The state of California caps costs at $450 for smog check repairs and you may qualify for a cost waiver if you’re considered low-income. 

It’s important to note that smog check costs can vary based on the provider and state. For example, The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) in California doesn’t regulate prices, so it’s best to shop around to compare prices as you’ll be dealing with private enterprise. However, smog check stations are required to list prices clearly. 

How long is a smog check good for? 

If you’re getting a registration renewal or selling your car, you may need a smog check. Typically, you’ll be notified by the DMV (or similar authority in your state) if a smog check is required. 

You want to bring the notice to the smog inspection and when it’s completed, your smog certificate is typically good for 90 days and should be submitted to the local transportation authority. You may have to pay a smog certificate fee as well, which in California is $8.25. 

If you’re wondering how often you need to get a smog check, that will depend on the state, county, and type of car you drive. For example, in California a smog check may be required every other year as part of the registration process. You’ll want to check with your local state transportation authority on guidelines, but again you’ll likely get a notice if it’s required. 

According to, there are 33 states that require a smog inspection:

  • Arizona: Certain Areas (Phoenix and Tucson)
  • California: All Areas
  • Colorado: Some Areas (Denver and Boulder)
  • Connecticut: All Areas
  • Delaware: All Areas
  • Georgia: Certain Areas (all 13 Atlanta Metro Counties)
  • Idaho: Certain Areas (City of Boise and Ada County)
  • Illinois: Certain Areas (Chicago and East St. Louis)
  • Indiana: Certain Areas (Gary Metro Area)
  • Maine: Certain Areas (Cumberland County, and the Portland Metro Area)
  • Maryland: Certain Areas (all DC Metro and the City of Baltimore)
  • Massachusetts: All Areas
  • Missouri: Certain Areas (Jefferson County and Franklin County)
  • Nevada: Certain Areas (Cities of Reno and Las Vegas)
  • New Hampshire: All Areas
  • New Jersey: All Areas
  • New Mexico: Certain Areas (Albuquerque Metro Area)
  • New York: All Areas
  • North Carolina: Certain Areas (48 Counties – See the NC DMV site for more info).
  • Ohio: Certain Areas (Cities of Akron and Cleveland)
  • Oregon: Certain Areas (Cities of Medford and Portland)
  • Pennsylvania: Certain Areas (Cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia)
  • Tennessee: Certain Areas (Cities of Nashville and Memphis)
  • Texas: Certain Areas (Cities of Austin, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso)
  • Utah: Certain Areas (Cities of Ogden, Provo and Salt Lake)
  • Vermont: All Areas (1996 or Newer Vehicles Only)
  • Virginia: certain Areas (all DC Metro and Arlington)
  • Washington: Certain Areas (Cities of Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Vancouver)
  • Washington DC: All Areas
  • Wisconsin: Certain Areas (all of SE Wisconsin and the City of Milwaukee)

You’ll want to check with your local state transportation authority to see what current smog check requirements are, as things could change year to year. Also, some vehicles are exempt from the process so you can check out the local requirements to see if and when you need to get a smog inspection. 

How can you pass a smog check? 

If you’re concerned about passing a smog inspection, you want to make sure you’re taking care of your car and doing regular maintenance as required. That means not messing with any of the emission-related equipment and getting your car fixed if the engine light comes on. 

If there are blinking lights, that could be another warning sign that there is an issue that needs to be remedied. Taking good care of your car is the best way to pass a smog check. 

Also, staying on top of the requirements. So if you get a notice, get a smog check ASAP and bring the notice. Go to an approved testing site and get the results. If you’re in California, you can use this tool to find a shop to get a smog test. 

If you don’t end up passing the smog check, you’ll want to take action and get repairs to fix the emission issues. You may be eligible for assistance in your state if you’re low income, such as with California’s Consumer Assistance Program.  

The bottom line 

Getting a smog check is a routine process in many states. Not all states require a smog check though and you may be exempt depending on the type of car you have or where you live. Check with your local transportation authority and if you do need a smog check, shop around for the best places to get one at an affordable cost. 

While you’re keeping up with your vehicle’s requirements to stay in good standing on the road, consider looking into other car insurance options that may be more beneficial for your situation. Metromile offers affordable pay-per-mile insurance that is geared toward low-mileage drivers. Grab your free quote today.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

Electric Cars Pros and Cons

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you may have your eye on an electric vehicle (EV). Maybe you want to reduce your environmental impact or simply save money on gas — or you just like the look of the new Tesla and you’re sold. But then you hear that nagging voice, “Are electric cars worth it?” Before deciding on going fully electric or not, you want to understand the benefits of electric cars. Read on to review electric cars pros and cons to help make your decision easier.

Benefits of electric cars

f you’re wondering are electric cars worth it, it’s key to understand all the benefits of electric cars. Owning an electric vehicle has its perks, so let’s review.

You can save a lot of money

Have you ever lamented about how high the cost of gas is while at the pump? Imagine those days are gone. Instead of filling up your gas tank each week and feeling like it’s taking a good chunk of your discretionary income, you could save a lot of money by going electric. When you have an electric car, you no longer need any gas to fuel your car. 

Instead, you need electricity which is much more affordable. According to, you could reduce costs by 50% by going electric when compared to gas. You can even use their nifty eGallon tool to compare the costs of driving with gas versus electricity. For example, in California, it shows that the cost of gasoline is $3.73 per gallon compared to $1.86 for electricity. 

Being able to cut your costs in half is remarkable for your budget and can reduce your overall spending, freeing up money to put elsewhere — like savings, debt, or even a fun hobby.

Electricity is renewable

The thing about gas is that it’s a finite resource as it uses oil to create gas. Oil is a natural resource. Given everything going on with climate change, it’s important to take a harder look at natural resources and the way they’re being used. 

That’s why electric vehicles are an attractive alternative. Unlike gas which can technically run out, electricity can be renewable. It’s possible to get electricity in renewable ways such as through wind or water powers or even solar energy. 

Renewable energy is on the rise as the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted that usage reached record highs as of 2020, making it 12% of energy consumption. According to the EIA website, “The electric power sector accounted for about 60% of total U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2020, and about 20% of total U.S. electricity generation was from renewable energy sources.”

You can lower greenhouse gas emissions

One of the major benefits of electric cars is the fact that you can reduce your environmental impact. Regular vehicles that use gas greatly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as of 2019 transportation makes up 29% of greenhouse gas emissions, effectively the largest contributor next to electricity (25%), industry (23%), commercial and residential (13%), and agriculture (10%). 

Electric cars don’t have an exhaust pipe to create greenhouse gas emissions. That’s not to say there is no environmental impact. 

If you use coal or natural gas to power electricity, it can leave carbon pollution. If you use one of the more natural ways listed above, you don’t contribute to carbon pollution. 

The EPA does state on their website, “Even accounting for these electricity emissions, research shows that an EV is typically responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) than an average new gasoline car. To the extent that more renewable energy sources like wind and solar are used to generate electricity, the total GHGs associated with EVs could be even lower.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the national averages for annual emissions per vehicle is 11,435 pounds of CO2 equivalent for a gasoline vehicle whereas for all-electric vehicles it is 3,774 pounds of CO2 equivalent which represents 3x less CO2 than gasoline vehicles.

You can take advantage of tax credits

Another major perk of owning an electric car is the tax credits you could qualify for. According to the U.S. Department of Energy website, you could get up to $7,500 in tax credits. Your car must be all-electric or plug-in hybrid and made in 2010 or later to qualify. 

Tax credits are more effective than deductions at lowering the amount you pay in taxes as they’re dollar-for-dollar. Meaning, if you owed $10,000 you could effectively lower your tax bill up to a maximum of $7,500 and only pay $2,500. 

It’s important to note that the tax credit is only available up to the limit. So if your tax bill is only $2,000, you can receive the credit for up to $2,000 and the rest won’t help your tax situation any further. Deductions lower your taxable income which can lower how much you pay in taxes but is not dollar-for-dollar.

Less maintenance is required

When you have a regular car, you need to fill up the gas tank regularly and also change your oil at regular intervals. All of that can add to the cost and time it requires to maintain the car. When it comes to considering electric cars pros and cons, this is a huge benefit. On top of that, there may be fewer repairs needed as well.

Better performance

Electric cars tend to be much quieter than gas vehicles. That noise reduction can improve performance and quality of life and lead to a smooth ride on the road. Electric vehicles tend to be more energy efficient in stop-and-go traffic as well and electric motors actually react faster than mechanical engines. All of these factors combined make for a better performance and experience as both a driver and passenger.

Downsides of electric cars

Now that you know the benefits of electric cars, it’s time to consider the cons as well. Here are the most common downsides of electric cars.

Electric cars can be pricey

Though you can benefit from the cost savings on gas, there’s no doubt that electric cars are more expensive than standard cars to buy. In some cases, thousands of dollars more. 

But Business Insider recently discovered that there is a new group of EVs priced at $35,000. Additionally, Axios noted that electric vehicles are more expensive to buy but not to own. Due to lower maintenance costs it may all even out. But just be aware that you could pay a higher sticker price.

Charging can be a lengthy process

When you have an electric vehicle, you can’t just go to the pump and get on your way. You do have to charge your vehicle for it to work properly. Depending on your make, model, and year, your EV could take between 4 and 20 hours or more to charge. Having a charging station in your home can certainly help, but you need to make sure you budget for that time to adequately charge your vehicle.

You can’t go as far or as long as gas cars

A major downside to owning an electric vehicle is that you can’t go as far or as long as you might want. Electric vehicles can typically go between 60-100 miles when fully charged, but many modern EVs may get up to 250 to 350 miles per charge. Compare that to up to a maximum of 400 miles on a single gas tank (depending on car and efficiency), it’s a notable difference. Going on a road trip is less ideal in this scenario with an electric car.

Finding a station can be tough

If you don’t have a charging station at home, you’re at the mercy of public charging stations. While some cities may have plentiful options, not every place does and it can all depend. The lack of stations in your area could present a challenge if you’re in a bind and need to go somewhere. Be sure to do research about charging stations in your neighborhood and what options are available.

Car insurance premiums may increase

Another downside to consider is that car insurance premiums may be higher with an electric vehicle. The website ValuePenguin found that electric vehicle insurance premiums were 23% higher than regular cars. Part of that is due to the fact that electric cars can be more expensive. So if something were to happen to you, it may cost more to repair.

Electric cars pros and cons

You can save a lot of money Electric cars can be pricey 
Electricity is renewable Charging can be a lengthy process
You can reduce your environmental impact You can’t go as far or as long as gas cars 
You can take advantage of tax credits Finding a station can be tough 
Less maintenance is required Car insurance premiums may increase 
Better performance 

Are electric cars worth it?

If you’ve been thinking of buying a new car it’s natural to wonder, are electric cars worth it? The benefits of electric cars are generous and pretty clear cut but you also want to know about electric cars cons as well. It may cost more to buy and insure your car, but you’ll likely make up some of that with reduced costs on fuel.

If you are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, chances are you don’t drive much or are actively looking to drive less. Pay-per-mile auto insurance can be a good fit for you and help you lower car insurance costs.

You can see if pay-per-mile car insurance is right for you with Metromile. Download the Metromile app and take a Ride Along™ trial for free. For about two weeks, you’ll drive like you typically do (you should keep your existing insurance policy to keep covered during the trial). After, you’ll see how much you could save if you switched to a usage-based insurance policy.

Drivers can also save up to an extra 15% off their initial Metromile auto insurance quote if they show they’re a safe driver during their Ride Along™ in select states.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.

The Top 10 Questions About Electric Cars, Answered

How Do Electric Cars Work | Metromile

You’ve heard about electric cars, and now you’re thinking of buying one. The only problem might be that you have a few questions. 

While electric cars might be cool or more popular nowadays, there can still be some confusion. We’ve gone ahead and answered the top 10 most common questions about electric cars.

1. When was the first electric car made?

While you might think electric vehicles are a modern phenomenon, electric cars are older than you think. 

The first electric vehicle was created as early as 1828. It wasn’t until the 1870s that electric vehicles became smaller scale, more usable, and practical.

2. How do electric cars work?

Electric vehicles, sometimes called battery electric vehicles, “have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “The vehicle uses a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged into a wall outlet or charging equipment, also called electric vehicle supply equipment.” 

Electric cars don’t use liquid fuel, so there aren’t any fuel pumps, fuel lines, or fuel tanks. Because they run on electricity, they also don’t emit any car exhaust from their tailpipes.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

3. Do electric cars use oil?

Electric cars don’t use oil. Instead, electric vehicles use electricity stored in a battery to run an electric motor.

Because electric vehicles operate differently from traditional cars, this also means they don’t require oil changes as a part of your car maintenance checklist.

4. Do electric cars have transmissions?

One of the major differences between conventional cars and electric vehicles is the transmission. Electric cars don’t have different speed transmissions. Instead, electric cars have just one single-speed transmission, which is part of the electric motor that runs the car.

5. How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Charge times for electric cars can vary based on different factors, such as the battery size and charging capacity. Cold weather and other environmental factors can also impact charging speed.

According to Kelley Blue Book, which used data from car manufacturers’ websites, electric vehicles can take as few as four hours to as long as 12 hours to max out its charge.

Here’s how long it might take for some common electric vehicles to charge fully:

Charging time of major electrical car models

6. How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The cost to charge an electric vehicle depends on local electricity costs and whether you have to pay to use a charger. In California, electric vehicles might cost about $7 or more to fully charge. 

According to, there are sometimes free public chargers available, while other chargers may have a flat fee, a monthly subscription, or a per-use cost by time. 

You can also consider purchasing an at-home charger for your vehicle, which could cost between $400 to $1,000. You should also budget for any installation or set-up costs, such as fees, permits, or long-term maintenance.

7. How do I charge an electric car?

There are three main ways to charge an electric vehicle: 

  1. Level 1 charger: This is a regular 120-volt outlet in your home and the slowest way to charge your car. Your car will likely come with a cord for you to use this type of charging at home. 
  2. Level 2 charger: If you’re looking to charge your electric car outside of the home, it’ll likely be a 240-volt or 208-volt charger. Level 2 chargers can charge your electric vehicle more quickly. You can also install a Level 2 charger at home. 
  3. Fast charger: Fast or rapid electric vehicle chargers, sometimes called DC fast charging or DC quick charging, is typically the fastest charge available. You could get up to 50 miles or more in range after about 20 minutes. Fast charging isn’t available for all electric cars, so be sure to check your car owner’s manual before you try to use a fast charger. 

You’ll want to check your owner’s manual to see which type of charger works with the make and model of your electric car.

8. How much are electric cars?

Electric vehicles vary in price by make, model, and year, with some costing as much as a traditional entry-level car.

Here are the typical starting costs of some common electric vehicles in the United States:

typical car cost for electrical models

9. Are electric cars better for the environment?

Electric vehicles can be better for the environment because they can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because they don’t use fossil fuels or gas to run an engine or motor, electric vehicles don’t produce any tailpipe emissions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “While charging the battery may increase pollution at the power plant, total emissions associated with driving electric vehicles are still typically less than those for gasoline cars—particularly if the electricity is generated from renewable energy sources like wind.”

10. Who makes electric car batteries?

As electric cars become more popular and commonplace, the need for electric car batteries has increased. There are now many electric car battery manufacturers. 

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, many electric vehicle battery pack manufacturers are assembled in the United States. 

Some major electric car battery manufacturers include:

battery makes for electrical cars

The bottom line

Electric vehicles aren’t just a trendy fad but are here to stay. They can be a more environmentally friendly way to drive compared to traditional cars.

If you drive an electric car or are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, chances are you don’t drive much or are actively looking to drive less. Pay-per-mile auto insurance can be a good fit for you and help you lower car insurance costs.

You can see if pay-per-mile car insurance is right for you with Metromile. Download the Metromile app and take a Ride Along™ trial for free. For about two weeks, you’ll drive like you typically do (you should keep your existing insurance policy to keep covered during the trial). After, you’ll see how much you could save if you switched to a usage-based insurance policy.
Drivers can also save up to an extra 15% off their initial Metromile auto insurance quote if they show they’re a safe driver during their Ride Along™ in select states.

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.