Car Idling: Is warming up your car a good idea?

For every two minutes a car idles, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to drive one mile. While it may be tempting to idle your car for a few minutes to â??warm it upâ?? during winter, 30 seconds is plenty of time to get going. Tailpipe emissions from cars contain pollutants that impact human health and the environment.

Viewer Tip: If just 10 percent of the estimated 65 million garage-owners in the United States cut idling by five minutes per day, weâ??d save about 84.5 million gallons of gas in a year! Remember that driving your car is the best way to warm it up.

Excessive idling can actually damage your carâ??s engine, but frequently restarting the engine has little impact. Cut-down on idling even more by turning off the engine if you are sitting in a drive-through or school pick-up line for more than 10 seconds â?? 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.

This information is provided by Living Lands and Waters. Learn more at or at

(Sources: California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center: Should I Shut off the Motor When Iâ??m Idling my Car? 2006-2011.; Rogers, Elizabeth and Thomas M. Kostigen. The Green Book. 2007.)

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