It costs Americans Millions. Do you idle when you don't have to?

Turn off that car when you can and save money and the environment. / Mike Morrison

It's estimated that Americans waste about 3.8 gallons of gas every year by idling their vehicle unnecessarily and this is not only costly and wasteful but also adds greatly to the air pollutants in the air we breathe.

Now most of us know how to get that motor running and head out on the highway but too few of us are in the habit of turning off that engine instead of idling in place and that's not very green.

Stopping unnecessary idling is a great way to help improve air quality, respiratory health, and the life of your car's engine and all it takes is a turn of the wrist.

The key to all of this of course is understanding the benefits of not idling in place, changing your habits and making an effort not to sit idly by when you don't have too.

Its true it's hard not to idle at certain times like when your in line at the fast-food restaurant or at the bank but that's a great time to park the car and go inside.

Picking up the kids from school is another great place not to idle. Not only can you save money and the environment but we really don't want our kids breathing in all the extra toxins idly put in the air.

Idling your car in the morning to warm it up may actually do more harm to the engine than good and the wear and tear of restarting your engine more frequently to avoid idling can actually be far less costly than the fuel you would burn idling your car unnecessarily.

There are many places and times when you can turn off that car and make a huge difference. Save money, the environment and even add to the life of your car simply by not idling in place.

Idling = zero mpg

Have you ever left your car engine running while you waited to pick up your children, or while you waited in the drive-through line at your bank or a favorite fast-food restaurant? Have you sometimes let your engine idle for several minutes to warm up your car first thing in the morning?

Most of us have. But when you leave your car or truck running while it's parked or sitting still, the engine produces air pollution. This pollution contributes to problems like smog and global warming, and is also harmful to our health. Vehicle exhaust contains air toxics and fine particles, among other pollutants, which are associated with increased incidence of respiratory ailments and heart disease, as well as greater cancer risk.

Stopping unnecessary vehicle idling is one relatively easy way to contribute to improved air quality and respiratory health in our communities.


Idling can be a hard habit to break. But remembering to turn off the ignition while parked or waiting not only helps air quality in the immediate vicinity, but can also save fuel â" and money.

Schools and other organizations

No one wants their children breathing exhaust, and yet a great deal of idling takes place at schools, where buses and cars line up to drop off and pick up children. Help make schools a healthier place for kids. Use the free No Idle Zone toolkit to implement an anti-idling program.

The Truth About Idling

Each day, Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline by voluntarily idling their cars, and an engine that idles for 10 minutes yields 90 grams of pollutants like carbon dioxide. Plus auto industry experts now say that idling is bad for your car.

Let's dispel some common myths about idlingâ|

Myth #1: Your engine needs to warm up before driving in cold weather.

Reality: Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to warm your engine is to drive the vehicle. With today's modern engines, there's little need for idling on winter days before driving away.

Myth #2: Idling is good for your engine.

Reality: Excessive idling can actually damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems. Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature. This leads to the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.

Myth #3: Turning off and restarting your vehicle is hard on the engine and uses more gas than if you leave it running.

Reality: Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling. The bottom line: more than 30 seconds of idling can use more fuel than restarting the engine.

Keeping the Engine Running

Starting a car sucks up fuel, some say, so keep the engine idling when possible. That's bad advice: today's fuel-injected vehicles are efficient and don't waste gas during start-ups anymore. In fact, idling can cost you up to half a gallon of gas an hour, so turn off the engine if you're not going anywhere.