2020 Ford F-150 truck left idling

Is it bad for your engine to sit and idle for long periods of time?

Engine idling facts and myths 

There are a lot of myths when it comes to any vehicle component, from tire pressure to fuel economy. Today, we will be busting a common myth or two about idling your vehicle’s engine. Keep reading below to learn whether it is bad for your engine to sit and idle for long periods of time. 

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How does engine idling affect your vehicle’s fuel economy? 

There has been a long-standing myth that letting your engine idle is better than turning your vehicle on and off again, but it is just that, a myth. Someone, somewhere, thought that it would take more fuel to start your engine up than to let it sit idle for a few minutes, but they were wrong. Starting up your engine only requires a minimal amount of fuel, while idling uses a continuous amount of fuel to keep the engine going.  

It is better to turn your vehicle off while you wait for your friend to run into the store; however, you may not notice a huge difference in money saved unless you tend to idle often and for long amounts of time. Still, any money saved is still money saved. Plus, you can save on your carbon footprint. 

How does engine idling affect your vehicle’s engine? 

Another common myth about engine idling says that you should let your engine idle for a few minutes before you start driving. This is, in fact, a myth for a modern vehicle, although it has some roots in the truth. It may have been safer with previous vehicles to let them idle before driving; however, new vehicle models are as different from old vehicles as modern smartphones are from dial-up phones. Modern technology requires modern approaches. 

When it comes to the modern vehicle sitting in your garage today, you shouldn’t let your engine idle. Your vehicle does not need more than a few seconds to start up. Leaving it idling actually can be detrimental, and it wastes fuel, which causes a negative environmental impact as well. 

Does your car continue to use fuel while in park? 

Yes, your vehicle will continue to use fuel even when you put it in park. While many people idle with their foot on the brake pedal, doing that or putting the vehicle in park are essentially equivalent in the fact that both will use fuel as time goes on. 

This means that you and people around your vehicle will be breathing in some amount of car exhaust. Car exhaust can be dangerous in a potent form, which is why you should never leave your vehicle idling in a closed space such as a closed garage. Overall, you probably shouldn’t be breathing any more exhaust than you must, so turning off your vehicle’s engine can be good for you too. 

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