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The City of Barrie, in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Natural Resources Canada, are teaming together to generate an increased awareness about idling so we can all work towards a greener community and environment.

The City is not sitting idle on this issue and is currently working on an idle control policy that will minimize idling of City vehicles, saving money and reducing harmful emissions to the environment. This is part of the Greening Barrie’s Fleet initiative.

What is Idling?

Idling is running a vehicle's engine when the vehicle is not in motion. It commonly occurs  when drivers are stopped at a red light, waiting while parked outside a business or residence, or otherwise stationary with the engine running. If you keep your engine on while you wait to pick someone up, you are idling.

Idling Facts

  • An idling engine produces twice as many emissions as a moving vehicle.
  • Idling increases your maintenance costs. When an engine idles, the engine oil becomes dirty more quickly than when a car is moving.
  • A single bus can take 40 vehicles off the road, saving 70,000 litres of fuel and 9 tonnes of pollutants each year!
  • 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your car.
  • Idling gets you nowhere and wastes your money; an idling engine gives you zero kilometres per litre.

Idling Myths

Myth: Restarting the engine uses more gas than idling.
Reality: An engine restart uses fuel approximately equal to 10 seconds of idling.

Myth: Restarting the engine causes greater engine wear than idling.
Reality: Restarting causes less.

Myth: Cars need to idle to warm up the engine.
Reality: The engine warms up faster when being driven.

Winter Idling Tips

In the peak of winter‚ studies show Canadian motorists idle their vehicles for about eight minutes a day‚ resulting in a combined total of more than 75 million minutes of idling per day.

  • The best way to warm up a car in winter is to drive it! Even at -18°C, most cars need only 15 to 30 seconds of idling before being driven.
  • To reduce idling, avoid using a remote car starter during reasonably warm weather (above -10°C).

Summer Idling Tips

Many motorists idle their cars in the summer in an effort to cool it down with air conditioning. Rather than letting it idle, you have alternatives:

  • Try to park in the shade. It may mean a longer walk, but the additional exercise will be good for you!
  • Use a car sun shade. This foldable cover that is placed on your dashboard will help prevent those hot rays from heating up your car when you return.
  • Use your windows. By leaving the windows down half an inch you will be keeping the air moving. Roll down the windows for a few minutes before you get in or open and close the door a few times to help fan the cooler air in.

What Else Can You Do to Reduce Idling?

  • Be more aware of the amount of time you idle.
  • Reduce "warm-up" idling before driving away making sure your vehicle's windows are clear. Wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires are only warmed when the vehicle is moving. It typically takes at least five kilometres of driving to warm up these components.
  • Turn your engine off if parked for more than 60 seconds during reasonably warm weather (above -10°C).
  • Stuck in traffic, using a drive-thru, picking up someone at school or waiting for a train to go by? Shut off the vehicle! Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
  • Consider using other ways to get around, such as public transit, driving an electric vehicle (EV), walking, biking or jogging instead of driving. Related page: Active Transportation

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