Courtesy of UCAIR

Top 5 myths about idling your car

By UCAIR | Posted - Jan 27th, 2016 @ 10:03am

This winter you've probably heard a lot about the importance of reducing idling, especially during inversion season. In fact, not idling is one of the most important things we can all do to help clean up the air.

Right now there are a lot of myths out there about idling that we'd like to put to rest so that we can all breathe a little easier:

Myth: Isn't it the best way to warm up a vehicle to let it idle for several minutes?

Fact: No. Idling is not an efficient way to warm your vehicle, even in cold weather. A slow drive-off during the first mile is the best way to warm a vehicle's transmission, tires, suspension, steering the wheel bearings.

Myth: Can't frequent re-starting of my vehicle's engine cause serious damage?

Fact: Re-starting has little impact on engine components like the battery and starter. You can actually reduce wear and tear when you turn off your vehicle, rather than idling. Excessive idling can damage your engine's internal parts.

Myth: Doesn't turning off and re-starting my vehicle use more gas than if I left it running?

Fact: Just 30 seconds of idling uses more fuel than re-starting the engine. If you're going to stop for 20 seconds or more (except in traffic) shut the engine off. Some experts estimate 10 seconds is the break-even point.

Myth: Pollution from an idling vehicle doesn't have a significant impact to our health and environment.

Fact: Actually, the impact of idling pollution is quite significant because the toxins emitted from idling vehicles impair our lungs and heart. Idling fumes have been linked to asthma, decrease lung function, cardiac disease, cancer and other serious health problems. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory ailments are most at-risk. Prolonged exposure can possibly lead to death.

Myth: Idling doesn't waste much fuel.

Fact: An hour of idling time consumes approximately a gallon of fuel or more per hour depending on the vehicle.

5 reasons not to idle

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Decreases fuel costs and dependency
  • Improves air quality and contributes to a clean environment
  • Decreases need for unnecessary engine maintenance
  • Improves overall health of citizens

Idling is a habit we all easily can break if we just take a moment and think about the overall effects of the pollution emitted into our air. 50 percent of Utah's air quality problems come from vehicles. Our vehicles are an everyday necessary, but it's important to use them wisely. You can do your part – Turn Your Key and Be Idle Free!

Test your idling knowledge (in the app and can't see the quiz? Click here).

For more information about other ways you can improve air quality this inversion season visit and


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Updated: Monday September 24, 2018 12:35 pm