Idling Wastes Fuel and Money (How much you could have saved?)


Idling is one of the largest wastes of fuel for Malaysian drivers and all of that waste is taking us nowhere. In fact, you could be spending up to 25% of your time behind the wheel idling. Depending on your vehicle, every 10 minutes of idling is costing you between 1/10 and 4/10’s of a litre of fuel.

So, how much petrol can you actually save? Assuming your vehicle stays idle for an hour waiting for someone or the “perfect time” to start driving every day, you could potentially spend RM2.60 – RM2.80 per day (assuming 0.2 litres of RON95 consumption every 10 mins) by just waiting there, and that’s around RM78 – 84 each month!

Think about it, “idling” is a habit that we do unconsciously. Even within the educational centre, like the campus of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, students, workers, and others idling their vehicle engines for minutes while the vehicle is parked. Reducing our idling not only saves us money but reduces significantly greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) and health-harming pollution.

In Canada, if the motorists reduced their idling by just 3 minutes a day, it would be the equivalent to taking 320,000 vehicles off the road for the entire year!

Considering all factors, if you’re going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds,  except in traffic, turn the engine off. – Source

So, let’s think again. Do you really need to be idling when you are:

  • dropping off or picking up kids school?
  • waiting at a drive-thru?
  • waiting in line at the gas station or car wash?
  • running short errands?
  • warming up your car in cold weather?
  • stopped at railway crossings?
  • stopped at construction zones?
  • stopped at red lights?

Myth Busted: It takes more gas to restart your car than to keep it running. Shutting it off and starting it again is also very hard on the engine.

While the initial question may involve a “value judgement,” the answer is quite clear, idling wastes fuel and gets you nowhere! The fact is that:

  • anything over 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than shutting off and restarting your vehicle.
  • the money you save by not idling will more than offset any costs for wear-and-tear on your vehicle.

One of the most important reasons for reduced idling is simply the cost of wasted fuel. Today’s vehicles with fuel injection and electronic ignition start more easily and suffer far less wear and tear on the engine components. National Resources Canada indicates that the break-even point to offset any potential maintenance costs is 60 seconds, however other research would indicate that 30 seconds would be more accurate. Some sources estimate the cost of restarting your engine to be approximately RM40 to RM60 per year, which would more than be offset by the fuel saving costs.

And let’s not forget about the idling that many of us do to warm up our cars. The best way to warm your car up in cool weathers is to drive it. Excessive idling can actually be more harmful to your car as the fuel is not fully combusted when your car is idling outside of its peak operating temperature. This fuel residue builds up on the cylinder walls and can also contaminate the engine oil thereby reducing its ability to lubricate. On most days you need no more than 30 seconds of idling before driving away. Your engine, and all the other components that do not warm up while idling will warm up quicker and more efficiently.

So, the bottom line is that if you anticipate that you will be idling for more than around 30 seconds, other than when you are in traffic, it is best to shut your vehicle off and restart it. Excessive idling wastes money and produces unnecessary CO2 emissions which contribute to climate change. Oil reserves are dwindling, demand is increasing, and costs are rising so why waste this valuable resource going nowhere. Save money now and save the environment for the future!

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