Going nowhere: what’s your excuse for idling?
Practice the ’60-second rule’ to save money and the environment.


Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2019

Think about the last time your vehicle sat parked for more than 60 seconds with the engine running. Perhaps you were warming up your car on a cold morning, waiting to order your lunch at the drive-thru, or picking up your kids at school. Maybe you did all three on the same day.

For every 10 minutes your car idles, you burn over one cup of fuel and release 690 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere according to Natural Resources Canada. You also waste the money you spent to buy that gasoline. All while going nowhere.

Many people still believe that idling for a few minutes is ultimately more efficient and better for their cars than turning their engine off and on again.

However, modern engines are optimized to use a minimal amount of fuel to start up. Idling for just 10 seconds burns more fuel and emits more CO2 than restarting your engine. There is some additional wear and tear on your battery and starter, but this is minimal over the lifetime of your car.

According to Natural Resources Canada, 60 seconds is the point where the savings from turning off your engine outweigh any additional costs from maintenance. This is why they advocate following the ’60-second rule.’

As for warming up your engine on a cold day, today’s engines don’t need to be warmed up for more than a few seconds before driving off. If you’re concerned about starting your vehicle in winter, use a block heater to keep your engine warm overnight. On the coldest days, block heaters can increase fuel efficiency by up to 25 per cent.

The fastest way to cool down the cabin in summer is to open the windows. Air conditioning draws a lot of power and can increase fuel consumption by 20 per cent. Blasting the air conditioning for several minutes before taking off only wastes time, fuel and money.

These days, there are no more excuses for idling your vehicle for more than 60 seconds. Next time you find yourself going nowhere in your car, do the smart thing for the environment and your wallet – and turn off the engine.

Additional information on idling can be found on Natural Resources Canada’s website at: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/communities-infrastructure/transportation/idling/4463