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An Idle Car Is…

February 22, 2012

flickr / Rob Friesel

the Devil’s Playground?  Not quite.  But it is something we can cut back on in our everyday lives to seriously lessen our energy use (or waste) and our carbon footprint.

Idling your car for more than 10 seconds wastes more gas than is needed to start your vehicle. Idling your car is not only a waste of energy, but it’s also pretty harsh on your vehicle too. Excessive idling can do serious damage to your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust systems. Beyond the damage idling can do to your car, idling can do extensive damage to your wallet.  Overall, Americans idle away 2.9 billion gallons of gas a year, which is about $78.2 billion in wasted gasoline money.

Gas Pump

flickr / Michael Kappel

Even if it seems like every minute your car is on is a necessary one, research indicates that the average person idles their car 5 to 10 minutes a day.  And although idling to “warm up” your car might seem like an imperative on a cold, winter day, the truth is that 30 seconds of actually driving the car will warm up your car to the same extent.

I’m not saying you should turn off your car at every stoplight, but it’s good to remember that for every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile. And to those who would argue that restarting one’s engine is harmful to the vehicle, research shows that frequent restarting has little impact on the battery and the starter motor. So, don’t let the winter months add to your bill at the gas tank, and don’t idle!

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