Aaron Widmar
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Should I Let My Car’s Engine Idle? Study Says…

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Should I Let My Engine Idle tailpipe (2)

Letting your engine idle can be a dangerous thing!
Photo: JT via CC

We’ve all done it before, and we still do it every day: when we’re waiting in the fast food line, when our child runs back into the house to get something before leaving for school, when we’re delivering pizza, or when we want to be warm after scraping off ice.

Letting the car’s engine idle has been part of driving experiences for as long as most people have owned a car. As it’s become customary for generation after generation, we don’t even give it a second thought. Sure it might waste some gas, but not so much that we can’t afford it.

You might be surprised, then, to find out that letting your car’s engine idle is a bad idea for more reasons than just wasted fuel.


Reasons Why Letting Your Car’s Engine Idle Is a Bad Idea

The following reasons to avoid letting your car’s engine idle are from EcoWatch and other sources. Consider the following and see why initiatives like I Turn It Off are against idling engines:

Saving Gas: We all know that letting your car’s engine idle burns gas, but most of us don’t realize how much we actually use. Add up letting your car warm up, stopping at the bank ATM, waiting for your student at school, and listening to the radio after you arrive home, and you wasted enough gas to go 24 miles. Figure in acceptable idling at stop lights and you’re idling 16 minutes a day, according to this infographic.

Saving Money: Using numbers from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, Slate determined that turning your car back on instead of idling would result in 8.9 gallons of gas being saved each year, and the US as a whole could save $13 million annually. Plus, you can avoid idle car fines that exist in 30 US states.

Saving the Earth: Engine fumes don’t just smell bad. “Every 10 minutes of idling you cut from your life, you’ll save one pound of carbon dioxide — a harmful greenhouse gas — from being released into the atmosphere,” EcoWatch noted. You’ll also reduce noise pollution!

Should I Let My Engine Idle tailpipe

Engine idling is about more than just wasting gas
Photo: Rishabh Mishra via CC

Saving Your Car: The California Energy Commission has reported that idling can damage an engine, as fuel is only partially combusted due to facets not operating at peak temperature. That leftover residue can damage engine component walls and reduce the life of your vehicle.

Saving Yourself: The EPA has warned, “Although convenient, the idling of your car worsens air quality for you and your kids.” Noting links to damaged brain cells, asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease, and cancer, air pollution caused by combustible engine byproducts can cause irreversible damage, especially to children.

If you’re going to idle longer than ten seconds, turn your car off!


  • Aaron WidmarSenior Editor

    Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.