Fuel Economy Tip – Minimizing Idling

Today’s tip, according to Fueleconomy.gov, could help you increase your vehicle’s gas mileage by up to 17%!

Reduce the amount of time your car is in idle!

I came across a great article and diagram on Fueleconomy.gov that states the following:

“Only about 15% of the energy from the fuel you put in your tank gets used to move your car down the road or run useful accessories, such as air conditioning. The rest of the energy is lost to engine and driveline inefficiencies and idling. Therefore, the potential to improve fuel efficiency with advanced technologies is enormous.”

That’s an amazing statistic! If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, for every 10 gallons of gas your car uses, only 1.5 gallons are used in getting your car down the road (or to use your AC, etc.).

So, with that being said, unless you are a mechanical engineer or just happen to be a wiz with your car’s engine, the only real possibility for you to save gas is to reduce the amount of time your car is idling. According to the chart on the site I referenced, 17.2% of your car’s fuel is wasted while your car idles.

So, with gas being about $3 per gallon, every $.52 you spend on gas is wasted while your car sits in idle.

Here are some things you can do to help reduce the amount of time your car is in idle:

  • Avoid being on the road during rush hour. Even staggering your commute by 30 minutes can have a great impact on the amount of time you sit on the highway.
  • If you know of times when your car is going to sit and idle (running into a friend’s house, going into Blockbuster to pick up a movie, etc.) go ahead and park the car and turn the engine off.
  • Instead of turning on your car and then putting on your seat belt, adjusting your mirrors, picking out a CD, rolling the windows up or down, etc., go ahead and do those things BEFORE you start your car.
  • In the winter, don’t let your car sit and idle while you warm it up or scrape frost off the windows. Scrape the frost off before you start your car and invest in a nice set of gloves to where while you’re driving down the road, waiting for your car to warm up.
  • Same thing goes for idling while running the AC and waiting for the car to cool in the summer.
  • Avoid going through the drive thru. Just go in and order your food.

Obviously this isn’t an all intensive list, but hopefully it’ll give you a few ideas on ways you can reduce the amount of time your car idles.


  1. katherine meerman says

    I am doing a science experiment on wasting gas while idling. Can you tell me where or how to find out how much gas a new minivan uses up while idling. All me research says something different.


  1. […] Continue leaving at the same time and get stuck in traffic, which adds wasteful idle time, which can reduce gas mileage by up to 17% […]

  2. […] Reduce the amount of time your car is in idle. […]

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