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Walking Mountains Sustainability Blog

What You Need To Know Before Idling Your Car

Posted by Walking Mountains Science Center on Jan 29, 2019 4:17:12 PM
Walking Mountains Science Center

How Bad is Idling Your Car for the Enviornment

What You Need to Know Before Idling Your Car

There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding the potential effects of idling your car engine. Many on the road don’t know much about the negative effects of this activity.

Information about what to do after a car accident, how to prepare your car for the winter, and checking tire pressure is readily available online, but clear information about idling your car is not. Thus, it’s important to dispel certain myths for drivers.

The following are some of the more common questions drivers have about this topic. Keep these points in mind whenever you’re behind the wheel.


Can you receive a fine for idling your engine?


It’s a situation many people experience: you park outside a building to pick someone up, leaving the engine idling until they arrive. Can doing so result in a fine?

It depends. Different jurisdictions have different laws. That said, it’s best to err on the side of safety if you’re not familiar with the local regulations. For instance, drivers can be fined as much as $2,000 for idling their vehicles in New York City. This is due to the potentially harmful effects idling can have on pedestrian health. It’s simply best to assume the area you’re driving in has similar laws.


When can’t I idle my engine?

Keeping your engine running when doing so is necessary for the proper operation or examination of the vehicle is acceptable. Thus, if you’re stopped at a red light, that doesn’t mean you have to shut your engine off.

Idling occurs when a driver parks the vehicle but leaves the engine running for an excessive amount of time. However, it’s important to understand that “excessive” doesn’t exactly mean what some drivers may assume. In New Jersey, for example, diesel vehicles are not permitted to idle for longer than three minutes.


Does idling harm the environment?

Idling can have a greater impact on the environment than you might expect. One study revealed that idling your engine for longer than a mere 10 seconds emits more CO2 into the air than simply restarting the engine. It also uses more fuel, meaning you can waste a lot of money when you idle your engine.

Idling also contributes to noise pollution. These are all good reasons to avoid it.


Does idling harm vehicles?

You already know idling increases your fuel consumption. It can also lead to oil contamination. As a result, important engine components may sustain damage. Additionally, idling often causes water to condense in the vehicle’s exhaust system. Corrosion may occur at a faster rate as a result.

Many people aren’t aware of these consequences. However, all drivers should be. It’s easy to simply assume that idling your engine for a few minutes doesn’t cause any damage. However, the facts demonstrate that it can have a major impact on your vehicle, your wallet, and the environment.

Topics: Climate Action Collaborative

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