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Is it Green to Idle my Car?

January 19, 2015 by

In the wake of dropping fuel prices, it can be easy to get carried away with our driving habits. Regardless of how cheap gasoline may be at the present moment, maintaining an eco-friendly mindset at all times is key for preserving the environment and lightening the load on your wallet.

Idling Cars

It’s important to remember that your vehicle’s stated highway and city MPG values are only accurate to a point; driving erratically wastes millions of gallons of fuel each year.

This includes rapid acceleration, hard engine braking, and long idle times.

There’s a prevailing misconception that the latter does not consume a lot of fuel, but this is a flawed assumption.

While it’s true that the engine in an idling car is operating at far lower RPM’s and thus burning less fuel than when in motion, you are also getting no gas mileage whatsoever when at a standstill.

Idling is bad

That being said, it’s hardly a surprise that the City of Toronto, which is widely known for its emphasis on green policies, expects its city employees to follow the 10-second rule. If their vehicle is stopped for 10 seconds, they should turn off the engine until normal driving resumes. If everyone in the city adopted this practice, it would be the equivalent of taking nearly 500 passenger vehicles (and their corresponding CO2 emissions) off the streets!

Many people are under the impression that stopping and starting their engine wastes more fuel than idling, but this is simply not the case. This is where the 10-second rule came into effect; although it can be difficult to adjust your driving habits in stop-and-go traffic, it is a mathematical fact that doing so will save you money, as well as reduce your carbon footprint.

The same principle applies to warming up your vehicle. Modern, light passenger cars only require 30 seconds of idling before they can be driven, and even for heavier vehicles this time frame is limited to a couple minutes at most. Although you may not feel the effects of your heater kick-in within that half-minute, your car is still ready to ride.

Avoid falling into the trap of letting your car or truck idle for 10 minutes in the driveway by reminding yourself that this is just throwing away your money. People who do this are the true emission culprits and can strongly benefit from new, green driving habits!

Idling is crucial source of Toronto’s air pollution. Do your part in making our city healthier by reducing your idle times whenever possible!

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