Why Idling is Bad for Your Car (and the Environment) | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Why Idling is Bad for Your Car (and the Environment)

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What do you know about car idling? What you don’t know, might surprise you! A rigorously held belief among many drivers is that warming up the car prevents damaging the engine in cold weather. While you want to avoid over-revving a cold engine, driving gently is a better way to heat up the engine than idling it for 10 or 15 minutes before you leave for work.  Learn more about this and the dangers of letting your car idle.

What Does It Mean to Idle Your Car?

Idling a car is when a vehicle’s engine is running, but the vehicle is not moving. Idling occurs when you are waiting for the red traffic light to turn green.  It seems harmless enough, but is it? Read on to find out what is happening to your car, and to the environment around your car, when you idle.

What Happens When You Idle Your Car?

While many probably don’t think twice about Letting their car idle while in park, letting your car idle is actually detrimental to the modern automotive engine, wastes gasoline, and negatively impacts the environment.

While engines of yesteryear may have benefited from a warm-up, modern engines do not, need more than a few seconds or idling time before they can be driven safely. Contrary to popular belief, turning your vehicle off and on does not damage the engine, drain the battery or waste gas.

Batteries of today are designed to require less power per engine start. They are designed to have better power reserves and recharge faster.  Starters are also stronger and more reliable. So, all those car parts that you were worried about wearing out from turning off the car are no longer something to worry about.

The 10-Seconds Rule

When it comes to cars, apply the 10-seconds rule (no, we aren’t talking about food being dropped on the ground with this one.) Research shows that it is more fuel efficient to turn a car off and restart it (rather than keep it idling) as long as the car will be off for more than 10 seconds.  With modern electronic ignition systems and improved car batteries, if you are going to be idling for more than 10 seconds, it is better for the car, the car’s engine, your pocketbook and the environment to simply turn off the car and restart it when you are ready to press the gas pedal.

The Dangers of Exhaust Fumes

Exhaust emitted into the atmosphere from idling vehicles poses real health risks as exposure can cause lung and respiratory problems.  Exhaust also aggravates asthma and allergies. In addition to these factors, the carbon dioxide emissions from exhaust contribute to global warming.

Not Everyone Has a Hybrid Car

Hybrid cars eliminate idling even when a car is stopped involuntarily (for example at a red light). The technology in hybrid cars are designed to help cancel idling and emissions. However, much of the world still has traditional vehicles so we have to be responsible for how we use them. Choosing not to idle our cars can be one of the simplest things we can do to help our environment.

Prepare Yourself and Your Car for Temperature Changes

Idling your car doesn’t just happen at stop lights. Many people fall guilty of car idling when the temperatures are either really cold or really warm–we want our heaters running or we want our air conditioners keeping us comfortable.  Instead of relying on the car to keep you warm or cold, prepare by dressing for the weather and keeping blankets or cooling tools in your car.

Watch Out, In Some States Idling Could Result in a Fine

And if protecting your engine/environment was incentive enough, a majority of states have what are known as anti-idling laws, and if they aren’t obeyed, you could end up with a fine, reports Popular Mechanics. Designed to help curb the negative effects of idling cars on our environment and reduce vehicle theft, these anti-idling laws sure send a strong message!

Looking for automotive services to help increase your fuel efficiency? Contact Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair or call us at (970) 682-4202 to set up an appointment.

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