Engine idling makes no sense for the environment or for your car, Terry Lowrey writes. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

LETTER: The problem with idling

From reader Terry Lowrey

While governments talk big and spend money to address climate change, it appears they are missing the most immediate, simplest and most cost effective solutions. We need to boil it down to what can be done right now — today!

One of the biggest things we drivers can do is to stop idling our engines unnecessarily. Look around and you will see people sitting in their cars and trucks idling and texting, idling while dropping off or picking up the kids from school, idling at drive-thrus or while waiting to fuel up or wash the vehicle, idling to warm up or cool down the vehicle, idling while talking to their friends or neighbours, idling while waiting for the ferry or at railway crossings, idling at construction zones, even guys idling while fueling up their diesel pickups and that is illegal! Canadians are known to idle about 25 per cent of their time behind the wheel.

Idling engines consume approximately 0.6 litres of fuel per hour per litre of engine displacement. At idle a 3.5 litre engine consumes about two litres of fuel per hour and emits 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) per litre of fuel. Across the country each day this adds up to 2.2 million litres of fuel and produces five million kilograms of greenhouse gasses. This is equal to the amount of fuel required to drive an extra 1,100 vehicles for a year!

Idling also wears out the engine faster because an idling engine can’t fully achieve operating temperatures. The incomplete combustion pollutes the engine oil prematurely. The best and fastest way to warm up your engine is to drive the vehicle — start it up and go. Read your owner’s manual to confirm that this is true. Even for diesel engines, a warm up or cool down period isn’t necessary. The cost of any mechanical wear on your starter is negligible compared to the savings on fuel you’ll realize. Plus you can double the oil and filter change period.

If you’re stopped for longer than 30 seconds, turn off the engine — it doesn’t take that much effort to turn a key!

Terry Lowrey

Crescent Bay

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