One of the things that gets me fired up is people idling their vehicle. It gets me going for two reasons, first, it is a huge waste of money; and second, it is a total lack of respect for the environment. We’ve all seen these people. Just recently I waited in our car in the parking lot, with our infant son, while my wife went into the grocery store. She was probably in the store about 20 mins, it was winter time, it was cold, minus 8 or 9. But I didn’t sit there with the car running pumping out smelly fumes and tasty CO2 for the entire time. I let the care run for 3 or 4 minutes after initially parking with the heat blasting, then *GASP* I shut off the car! It was fine for about 3 or 4 minutes, then it got cold, then I started it again, ran it for about 5 more minutes, then shut it off again, and then as I was about to start it again, my wife came out. There were at least 3 or 4 others doing the same as I, waiting for their spouse, but with the car running the WHOLE time, and of course many of these offenders were in their huge SUV or extra large pick up truck. I can’t imagine sitting in my car with it running for 10, 15, 20 or more minutes. Why would anyone intentionally burn more gas than needed? Especially when everyone loves to complain about how expensive gas it. It’s just craziness!
I will admit that I do start my car up to warm it up, but only for two conditions: 1. Freezing rain – the kind that takes 10 mins to scrape off because it is so thick, even after the car has warmed up. 2. In very cold temperatures – minus 17 is about my cut off point. If it is not below minus 17, then I don’t warm up my car.
We have had an ice storm here recently and some very cold temps, so I have started my car quite a few times in the last 2 weeks or so. In fact, I would say I have warmed the car up more already this year, then all of last winter. Since I have been doing so much of this wasteful idling, it has given me a good opportunity to see just how much this idling is costing me in my fuel-efficient vehicle (rated at 9.1/6.9 L/100 km I’m not much of a car guy, so I am assuming your idling huge SUV will burn more gas at idle since the gas mileage is lower and engine is bigger, please correct me if I am wrong)
I normally run through the entire tank of gas between fill ups, so I can keep an eye on my mileage (something everyone should do at least once a month). I typically get about 420-460 KM per fill up of my 45 L tank. During my idle tracking, here is what I found: I got under 400 KM on my tank! In other words I was at least 22KM short on approximately 69 mins of idling. So each minute of idling costs me about 1/3 KM of driving, or 3 mins of idling costs me 1 KM, that calc worked out nicely! Or if is costs about $54 to fill up my tank with about 42 L of gas at 1.29/L, that works out to roughly $2.70 or just over 2 liters of gas (22KM is about 5% of my tank, so 5% of $54 = $2.70) or just under 4 cents per MINUTE of idle time. Keep in mind these clacs are based on my mileage being 22Km short, it could be 44Km or more short. So it may cost me double these amounts. Either way, it gives me, and you, a good idea about the cost of idling. These amounts is roughly in line with what some websites were saying for gas usage while idling. Most sites I read as well seem to say it is better to shut down your engine if you need to idle for more than 10 seconds. It is also said the best way to warm up a car is to get it moving. I will also mention my father was never a believer in the warm up, and he always had good luck with his cars, he even got a few over 400,000 KM.
So remember, just be aware of any idling habits you may have.
Keep an eye out for upcoming auto related posts.