Learn how to spot and avoid common scams! Visit the AARP Fraud Resource Center.
by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, April 24, 2009
Q. Does letting a car idle waste more gas than shutting off and restarting the engine? If so, at what point, time-wise?
A. Just 10 seconds of idling uses as much gas as restarting your car, according to the California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center, which recommends you shut off your car when you’re parked (at a drive-through business, for instance) for more than 10 seconds. Allow a car to idle for two minutes, and you’ll use as much fuel as you would driving one mile. That’s noteworthy, considering the average driver lets the car idle for five to 10 minutes per day. And besides wasting gas, excessive idling can damage cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system.
Several years ago, Edmunds.com did a comparison of various gas-saving measures. To test the cost of idling, testers drove two cars for 10 miles—they stopped 10 times and idled for two minutes each time. Then testers drove the same route but turned off the engine and restarted at each of the 10 stops. They estimated nearly 20 percent fuel savings on the restarted cars.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of “Scam-Proof Your Life” (AARP Books/Sterling).
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Get tips and resources to protect yourself from fraud and see the latest scam alerts in your state.
Members save 15% all day, every day at participating locations.
Exclusive program for members from The Hartford.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at