Three Reasons Not to Idle Your Car
1. It causes health problems: Long term exposure to vehicle emissions (for drivers and passersby) has been linked to health issues such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Check out this fact sheet for more information.
2. It’s a waste of money: Idling your car wastes gasoline and causes additional engine wear, costing you money. Idling can use up to half a gallon of fuel per hour. Idling consistently can cost you up to approximately $650 a year, depending on vehicle type, gas prices, and idling habits.
3. It’s the law: Massachusetts law prohibits excess idling. It’s wise to turn off your engine if you’re waiting for over 10 seconds and it’s illegal to idle your car for more than 5 minutes. There is an $100 fine for the first offense, and up to $500 fine for subsequent offenses.
Restarting your car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling
Idling for just 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine.
Warm up your engine by driving it, not by idling
Today’s electronic engines do not need to warm up, even in winter. The best way to warm the engine is by easing into your drive and avoiding excessive engine revving. After just a few seconds, your vehicle is safe to drive! The vehicle’s engine warms twice as quickly when driven.
Warm up the cabin interior by driving, not idling
Easing into your drive is also the best way to get your vehicle’s heating system delivering warmer air faster. Sitting in an idling car means you are breathing in more of the dirty exhaust that leaks into the car cabin. Any warmth you may get from a car heater is not worth the damage to your health. If parked and waiting, it is healthier to get out of your car and go inside a store or building.
Protect your car engine by idling less
Frequent restarts are no longer hard on a car’s engine and battery. The added wear (which amounts to no more than $10 a year) is much less costly than the amount of fuel wasted by idling (which can range from $70 to $650 a year). Idling actually increases overall engine wear by causing the car to operate for longer than necessary.
- “Frequently Asked Questions: The Massachusetts Anti-Idling Law” (MA Department of Environmental Protection)
- “Engine Idling: Impacts on Your Health & the Environment” (MASSDEP)
- Download and share our Make Medford Idle-Free flyer