Idling your vehicle truly gets you nowhere. It increases our dependence on petroleum, reduces the fuel economy of your vehicle, costs you money, produces pollutants, and wastes precious natural resources. Researchers estimate that idling from heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel annually. When you make an effort to turn off your vehicle, you’re on track to doing something better for yourself, your wallet, your environment, and your community.
Modern Cars Don’t Need To Idle
Advances in vehicle technology have eliminated much of the need for idling, making it easier than ever to avoid. Computerized controls in today’s vehicles bring the engine and catalyst up to their operating temperatures more quickly when the vehicle is moving than when it is idling. The catalytic converter that reduces emissions also operates much sooner if the car is driven right away rather than idled. Even on the coldest day, it takes a modern vehicle less than 5 minutes to warm the engine if the car is moving. In contrast, it takes the engine almost twice as long to warm up if the car is merely idling. In moderate weather, the catalytic converter can even maintain its operating temperature and immediately resume emissions reduction if the driver restarts the car for up to 30 minutes after he or she turns off the ignition.
Similarly, today’s gasoline and diesel vehicles alike do not suffer damage from turning the key on and off. Starters and batteries are much more durable than people believed they were in the past. In fact, today’s owner’s manuals, which usually contain information on how to get the best and most economical performance, generally do not recommend idling.
Idling Can Even Be Illegal
As if money wasted and pollution out the tailpipe aren’t bad enough, some jurisdictions in the United States have laws against idling of passenger vehicles.
You could actually be subject to a fine if an enforcement officer sees you idling unnecessarily in:
• The District of Columbia
• New Jersey
• Rhode Island
• Parts of Colorado, Missouri, and New York State.
Use the link below to download the complete U.S. Department of Energy Idling report.