Thursday, January 18, 2007

Idling Gets You Nowhere

January 2007
Read this issue of Greentips online

Would you drive a car that gets zero miles to the gallon? Of course not.
Yet that is your mileage whenever your engine idles. Idling wastes
money and fuel, contributes to air pollution, and generates carbon
dioxide emissions that cause global warming. Some states even have laws
limiting the amount of time cars can idle (see the related links).

Unfortunately, many people believe that idling is necessary or even
beneficial—a false perception that has carried over from the 1970s and
1980s, when engines needed time to warm up (especially in colder
temperatures). Fuel-injection vehicles, which have been the norm since
the mid-1980s, can be restarted frequently without engine damage and
need no more than 30 seconds to warm up even on winter days.

In fact, idling longer than that could actually damage your engine in
the long term. Because an idling engine is not operating at its peak
temperature, the fuel does not completely combust, leaving residues in
the engine that can contaminate engine oil and make spark plugs dirty.
Excessive idling also allows water to condense in the vehicle’s
exhaust, contributing to corrosion of the exhaust system.

No matter what time of year, minimize your idling with the following

When first starting your car, idle for no more than 30 seconds.

Except when sitting in traffic, turn your engine off if you must
wait in your car for more than 30 seconds. You can still operate the
radio and windows without the engine running.

When the time comes to buy a new car, consider a hybrid. Hybrid
gasoline-electric vehicles switch off the engine and use battery power
for accessories when the car is not moving, effectively eliminating
idling. Visit the UCS Hybrid Center website (see the related links) for
more information on these fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists