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Common Idling Myths

Is there anything I can do about vehicle idling?
Yes you can! Simply turn off your vehicle.

Isn't the best way to warm up a vehicle to let it idle for several minutes?
No. Idling is NOT an efficient way to warm your vehicle, even in cold weather. A slow drive-off during the first mile is the best way to warm a vehicle's transmission, tires, suspension, steering, & wheel bearing.

Can eliminating unnecessary idling save money?
Yes. One hour of idling burns up to 1 gallon of fuel. Avoiding 5 minutes of idling each day can save $35 every year. When you idle, you get zero miles per gallon-talk about money going up in smoke!

Is idling a problem in Fort Collins?
Absolutely! Local surveys suggest there are more than of 15,000 hours of unnecessary idling in Fort Collins every year, from activities like warming up vehicles on cold mornings to idling while dropping off/picking up kids from school.

In Fort Collins, is it illegal to turn off your engine while in traffic?
If you are in the car, and traffic isn't moving for 30 seconds or more, it's not illegal to turn off the engine.

Can't frequent re-starting of my vehicle engines damage it?
Re-starting has little impact on engine components like the battery and starter. You can actually reduce wear and tear when you turn off your vehicle, rather than idling. Excessive idling can damage your engine components like cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system.

Doesn't turning off and restarting my vehicle use more gas than if I left it running?
Just thirty seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine. If you're going to stop for 30 seconds or more (except in traffic), shut the engine off. Some experts estimate even 10 seconds is the break-even point.

Does idling vehicle pollution have a significant impact to our health and environment?
Yes. The impact is quite significant because the toxins emitted from idling vehicles impair our lungs and heart. Idling fumes have been linked to asthma, decreased lung function, cardiac disease, cancer and other serious health problems. Children, the elderly, and those with respiratory ailments are most at-risk. Prolonged exposure can possibly lead to death.

Can sitting in an idling vehicle prevent exposure to car exhaust?
No. According to the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA), exposure to most car pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) is much higher inside vehicles than road-side. Higher exposure occurs when sitting in traffic congestion, on highways or in a line-up of idling vehicles at a school or drive-thru. In these situations, CO levels can be 7 times the outside air level.

Is traffic signal timing optimized to minimize vehicle idling?
Yes. The City of Fort Collins finished re-timing all major arterial traffic signals in 2010, saving over 1 million gallons of fuel and almost $18 million in community-wide time and fuel costs each year.