Over the years, there have been many inherited beliefs about car idling that have influenced our driving habits. Many drivers still idle their cars to warm up the engine despite driving the latest car models. Others also believe that idling doesn’t use a lot of fuel and that it’s better for the car’s engine to idle than to restart.
However with use of modern technology in today’s vehicles, these are nothing more than outdated myths. It is important to understand that while idling isn’t inherently harmful to your car, when done excessive and unnecessary, it can have a negative impact.
Here’s why excessive idling damages your car.
- Idling in cold weather harms your engine Before the 1980s, car engines relied on carburettors to keep the engine going. Idling was essential to warm up the carburettor before driving. Today’s cars use electronic fuel injection systems that, together with more sophisticated engines, alternators and leading start/stop battery technology, make idling unnecessary. The best and fastest way to properly warm up your car’s engine is to start driving gently for the first few minutes.
- Idling wastes petrol A common myth is that idling uses less fuel than starting your car. The truth is that 10 to 30 seconds of idling burns more fuel than restarting your car. For every two minutes you idle, you could have driven 1.5 kilometres. Save more fuel by turning off the engine whenever you’re going to stand still for more than 10 seconds.
- Idling drains your battery Your car battery powers all the electronics in your vehicle and needs to be recharged by the alternator. When your car is idling, the battery charges slower and takes more strain from electronics.
- Idling burns up oil The moment you start your car, engine oil gets circulated and used. Idling for long periods will therefore use more oil and you’ll need to refill your oil more often.
- Idling causes engine damage While idling, the fuel in your car is only partially burned. Long periods of idling can produce a build-up of fuel residue and cause engine damage. Keep in mind that fuel is also an excellent thinner and cleaner, which means it can also wash away oil that keeps the engine components lubricated.
There are more than 12 million registered vehicles in South Africa and if everyone cut down on unnecessary idling, we would significantly reduce pollution. Idling is history, the future of driving is start/stop.
*Source: Battery Centre