Reasons to Stop Idling Your Car car exhaust and pollution

Top Reasons to Stop Idling Your Car

You ever hear people say you should warm up your car in the winter before driving it, or that stopping and starting your car uses more gas than idling? Find out why these are myths and other reasons to stop idling your car needlessly so you can do your part for the environment, the economy, and your health.

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Burning Fossils Fuels and Global Warming

First, let’s be clear: idling your electric car is not the issue here.  It’s the over 250 million registered cars in the U.S. that burn fossil fuels that are the issue.

What Greenhouse Gases Do Cars Emit?

Burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases – CO2, methane, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide – that fill the air that cause deadly pollution and smog, acid rain, and contribute to global warming.

How Much CO2 Does an Idling Car Emit?

Air-pollution-and-smog-in-city are reasons to stop idling your car
Smog from vehicles

It is estimated that in the U.S., personal vehicles alone emit about 30 million tons of CO2 every year just from idling. This also comes with an annual financial price tag upwards of $3 billion.  Yes, “billion” with a “b”.

Why people need to keep their engine running while they text or talk on the phone is beyond me. Worse, how about those that run into a store and keep their car running?  Why is that necessary?

Woman texting outside her car is a way to stop idling your car
Turn off your car to text or talk on the phone

Feeling brave? Find how much emitting greenhouse gases your car is emitting by using My Climate’s car calculator.

Top Myths About Idling Your Car

My Car Needs Time to Idle to Warm Up in the Winter

No!  Today’s car technology debunks this widely held belief. This belief only holds true for carbureted engines, which were stopped being manufactured in the 1980’s (the outlier being the Suburu Justy manufactured in 1994).  Fuel injector engines replaced the carburetor.

Can excessive idling damage a car? Possibly. Popular Mechanics says idling your car in winter “to warm up” not only does not protect your engine, “in fact, it decreases it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons.”

Even the U.S. Department of Energy says vehicle owner manuals recommend avoiding idling “to get the best and most economical performance”. Read more on how to start and drive your car in winter.

My Car Needs Time to Idle to Warm Up in the Winter

Actually, you waste more gas to idle your car more than 10 seconds than if you were to turn your engine off and on. Excessive idling (idling for over 10 seconds) also emits more carbon dioxide, of course.

Top Reasons to Stop Idling Your Car

How Bad is Idling for the Environment?

Idling from fossil fuel vehicles has a slew of detrimental environmental effects, from air and particle pollution, to ozone depletion, to global warming and its climate change effects.

Taking excessive idling out of the equation will make a huge positive impact on our environment and global warming problem – the equivalent of taking 5 million vehicles off the road.

Less vehicles running reduces noise pollution as well.

Health Impacts from Cars

Smog from cars has been linked to health problems such as aggravated asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and other serious respiratory complications and illnesses. Reducing idling time can improve air quality for better health.

Asthmatic child with inhaler is a Reasons to Stop Idling Your Car
Car idling contributes to health problems like asthma

Economic Impacts from Cars

Increasing health problems only means increased medical bills, rising health insurance rates, and missed time from working, all which contribute to individual as well as and national economic problems.

Excessive idling is estimated to cost an average of $44 in gas annually per car, and $392 annually for trucks. Don’t forget what Popular Mechanics said how excessive idling can impact your vehicle.

Why pay more in gas and mechanic bills when you can simply turn off your engine?

Obey the Law

Can idling your car be illegal? Possibly. Check the Clean Cities’ IdleBase to see which local and state laws exist that restrict vehicle idling.

What More Can You Do to Prevent Car Idling?

  • First, take the pledge not to idle your car or other vehicle for more than 10 seconds.
  • Share this post with everyone you know and on all social media letting them know you take the pledge and to spread anti-idling awareness and its benefits.

  • Reduce your driving time, or stop it altogether, by walking, biking, or riding public transportation.
  • Learn how much your car usage is emitting greenhouse gases with the My Climate’s car calculator. Then reduce your driving and re-calculate. Keep going for a lower number!
  • Avoid all drive-thru’s.
  • Launch an anti-idling campaign of your own. Get your community, schools and local businesses involved.
  • Contact your local and state legislators to demand they pass more and tougher laws on excessive vehicle idling. Make sure your city and state have the toughest possible in the Clean Cities’ IdleBase and provide regular, public announcements to let all know why vehicle users should not idling their vehicle.

Yes, stopping air travel would help improve our air quality and environment, but people please. Is that realistic?

Why not start with the easy, low hanging fruit? Unless you’re driving a car that could be considered a “classic”, by all that’s holy, stop idling your car excessively.

Let Me Hear From You

I would love to hear if learning the reasons to stop idling your car was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!

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Gwen, CORR Concepts Founder

Gwen is a Sustainability professional with an MBA in Sustainable Enterprises and LEED AP ID+C accreditation from the GBCI. She is also the Founder of CORR Travel. As a Sustainability professional and Earth Steward, environmental sustainability and biodiversity protection is her “religion”. Travel is her passion.

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