Your Gas Mileage Drops to Zero When You Stop Moving

I know the title of this post isn’t anything revolutionary or unknown, but hopefully this underscores the importance of reducing the amount of time your car is in idle.

According to, over 17% of your car’s gas is wasted by simply being in idle.  Obviously, the more you do to reduce the amount of time you sit in idle, the better your gas mileage is going to be.

This is one of the main reasons why hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and the Ford Escape Hybrid get such great gas mileage: when the car isn’t moving, or is moving at a relatively slow speed, the car’s engine stops using fuel and runs primarily on battery power.

Here are some simple ways to reduce the amount of time you sit in idle and ultimately increase your gas mileage:

  • Avoid being in the car during rush hour.  Even stagering your commute by 30 minutes can have a big impact on the amount of time you sit idling in traffic.
  • If you know of times when your car is going to sit in idle (running in to a friend’s house, going in to Blockbuster to drop off a movie, etc.) go ahead and park the car and turn its engine off.
  • Instead of turning on your car and then putting on your seatbelt, adjusting your mirrors, picking out which CD you want to listen to, etc., go ahead and do all of those things before you start the car.
  • In the winter, don’t let your car sit in idle while you try to warm up the inside or scrape frost off of your windows.
  • Same thing goes for air conditioning during the summer.
  • Avoid using drive throughs.  Just park the car and go inside.

With all this in mind, try your best to reduce the amount of time your car sits in idle and you should see a nice increase in your car’s gas mileage.


  1. The Honda Insight is a mild hybrid. It is never run by the electric motor exclusively. The elec. motor/battery system functions as 1) an assist, so the infernal combustion engine (ICE) can be smaller and more efficient; 2) a souped up starter, so it can quickly spin up the ICE when the latter is shut off, at a stoplight, for example; 3) capture and store (regenerate) some energy when coasting and braking.

  2. There are much better tips available from “Hypermiling’ forums.

    This is a good video from a top hypermiler

  3. Andrew Bettison says

    In Japan (at least, the parts I’ve been), drivers turn off their engines (and headlights) while waiting at red lights. When the light is about to go green (there is a red-amber-green sequence), they start the engine, and off they go. I’m sure this reduces pollution and increases mileage dramatically.

  4. you should let your engine warm up to operating temperature before its driven

  5. Hey bob,

    Cars arent made like they were back in the day. it isnt necessary to warm it up.

  6. It is never good to start and go in the winter the oil and transmission fluid should be warmed up for a lease a few minutes. if you want your engine and transmission to last.


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