There is, but it’s going to be very hard to determine. This is a topic that has generated quite a bit of controversy, especially with the popularity of the Cash for Clunkers program. It depends on a number of elements including the mileage of both vehicles, the impact of creating your new car, what happens to your old car afterwards (continues running, scrapped for parts, landfilled as is, etc), how many miles you drive, among others. The emissions from creating a vehicle are anywhere estimated to be from 11-28% of the vehicle’s lifetime emissions. Calculate how many gallons of fuel you would use for your old vs. new vehicle (miles travelled/mpg). If you are looking at a major improvement and your car really is the sort that is bringing down our collective mpg average, then maybe its time to consider scrapping it (so no one else can still be producing tons of emissions from it) and looking at a new vehicle. If you’re a middle of the pack sort of a driver though, then it’s probably best to hang on. But like I said, it’s messy and very tough to find that crossover point.
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