Stop Idling And Turn Off Your Car

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Contrary to popular opinion/rumor, whenever possible it is better to shut off your car’s engine than it is to let it idle. In a time of high gas prices, climate change, and modern car engines, it’s important to learn when we should be shutting off our engines and when we should be leaving them on. Let’s face it; a car going 0 miles per hour is getting 0 MPG. It’s still using a minute amount of gasoline to keep running but it’s not converting that energy into motion — you are at a standstill, and often for much more than just a few seconds. The EPA says that if you expect to be idling more than 15-30 seconds, you can save gas (and money) by turning the engine off and restarting it when you need to move. I have seen cars idling for 10-15 minutes outside of a CVS while one of the passengers sits inside listening to the radio; talk about wasting gas and money!

A report from Yahoo.com citing Minneapolis’ anti-idling ordinance, states that “exhaust is hazardous to human health, especially children’s; studies have linked air pollution to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies” and that car idling is the second-hand smoking of the outdoors. One of the problems is that cars idle close to the curb, where pedestrians are walking. Studies show that children’s IQ levels are lower when they live near major roads with lots of traffic. Ouch. Sure makes idling look like a stupid idea, huh? The Hinkle Charitable Foundation says that we waste 3.8 million gallons of gasoline each day from idling which produces about 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide and that on an annual basis we could be wasting upwards of 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and emitting 13 million tons of CO2 because of it. What a waste.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when in your car and wondering if you should turn your car off or not:

  • Constantly restarting a car will not harm the engine.
  • Idling is not an effective way of warming up an engine. 30 seconds is all you need on those cold winter months to get the oil flowing, and then you can head out.
  • Excessive idling can be hard on an engine and its components.
  • According to the EPA, idling for more than 10 seconds actually uses more gas than restarting the engine.
    Idling is polluting the air with exhaust which isn’t even being used for movement.
  • An idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than one traveling 32 mph.

Gasoline is pricier than ever, oil is a precious non-renewable resource, exhaust pollution damages our planet and its inhabitants, and idling can actually damage our expensive beloved vehicles. So remember to stop idling and shut of your car engine whenever you think you can, like when in traffic jams, at valet stands, or when picking your kids up from school, and if you are capable, park your car and go into restaurants, coffee shops, and banks instead of idling in drive-thru lanes. Your wallet and the environment will thank you!

Photo By biofriendly

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