Is Idling Bad for Your Car? Yes, Here’s Why:

Is idling bad for your car, is a topic this driver is curious about.

Is idling bad for your car? Truth be told, it’s not just bad for your car, it’s also doing a great deal of harm to the air and people, especially kids. With today’s climate change crisis and the loss of the Australian ozone, this is a key consideration for all motorists.

A Transport Energy/Emission Research (TER) study found that in Australia, drivers are likely to idle for as much as 20% of their driving time. According to ABC News, transport causes 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia.

With roughly 20 million cars in Australia, imagine the benefit to our environment if we all change our idling habits…. The TER study findings confirm the impact – reducing idling would be the same as removing 1.6 million cars from our roads. 

Find out more…

What is idling your car?

Idling is when you leave your car running while it’s stopped, for instance after you’ve started the engine and before you drive off. Lots of people do it – most probably we all do. But nine out of 10 times it’s unnecessary.

In the good old days, people would idle their cars to warm up the engine and get it ready for driving. However, modern cars don’t need to be warmed up; watch this video to see why:

Why do people idle their car?

There are many reasons people idle their cars, and while a few are good, most aren’t. Check out the good and bad further on.

One of the main reasons people idle their cars nowadays is checking their phones. Picture this… You’ve already hopped in your car and switched on the engine, but you just need to write a quick text or make a call before you head off.

Another reason is drive-through take outs. You’re waiting for your food to come through and you’re stationary, but your car’s switched on. Same applies to picking up your kids from school and parking with the engine on and ready to go (we feel the ‘kiss and ride pressure too!).

Here are more examples of when people typically idle their car:

  • Stopping in heavy slow-moving traffic
  • Stopping at traffic lights
  • Keeping the heater running while quickly popping out of the car to grab something
  • Ditto with the aircon
  • Charging the car’s battery
  • Warming up older cars’ engines

Many of these situations are ‘recreational idling’, often referred to as excessive idling and are the driver’s choice. How you drive can have an enormous effect on your car.

Read how to save money on car running costs and improving fuel efficiency.

Why is idling bad for your car (and people too)?

The turn of phrase ‘the devil finds work for idle hands’ was probably coined long before cars were invented. Yet it applies just as well to an idling car as to an idle person. Why? We hoped you’d ask.

Here are some top reasons not to idle your car:

  • Wastes fuel and therefore money
  • Causes air pollution
  • Can cause damage to the engine and exhaust system
  • Can increase car maintenance costs
  • Resulting car fumes stunt lung development, cause asthma in children and is bad for everyone’s general health
Is idling bad for your car - this guy hasn't realised it is.

When is it OK to idle your car?

There are some situations where it’s necessary to idle your car. However, these are far and few between, and idling time should still be limited.

Here’s the list:

  • You seldom drive your car – idling briefly just to get the motor running smoothly can keep it healthy
  • You drive a diesel vehicle, in which case idling clears exhaust fumes
  • You’re stuck in traffic

As you can see, there are very few cases idling is OK. Avoid it as much as possible.

Waste not, want not

According to the TER study, idling your car for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than switching off the engine and starting it again when you’re ready to go.

With that in mind, why not save petrol and money by reducing your idling. Imagine how you could put every dollar saved into online car insurance to protect your car finances instead.

How would you, like to proceed?

How would you, like to proceed?