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  • Briana Martinez

Myth Debunked: Why Idling Your Car Can Do More Harm than Good



Whether you mean to or not, idling your car can lead to a whirlwind of costly car repair and replacement costs. The EPA recommends idling your motor vehicle for no more than 30 seconds; any longer can cause strain on your car and your wallet.


What is Idling?

“Idling” refers to a motorized vehicle that's left running while in place. In San Antonio, idling is not a foreign concept to the average driver. With heavy traffic during rush hour, we can often find ourselves sitting in our seemingly motionless car for hours on end.


The Myth Behind Idling

We’ve all heard the tall tale of running your car for a few minutes to warm up the oil before taking off to avoid damaging your vehicle, but is that factual? The truth is, idling can cause deterioration, damage, and stress to your motor vehicle’s

  • Head Gasket,

  • Spark Plugs,

  • Car Battery, and

  • Cylinder Rings

Motor experts claim that the best way to warm up your vehicle is by simply driving it, so skip the expensive trip to the auto repair shop and try to limit idling.


Oil Alternatives for Harsher Weather

Warming up the motor oil may make it more viscous, causing it to flow better, but consider the damage your vehicle could potentially face. If colder weather is an issue, give thought to switching to more winter-weather-protected oils such as

  • 5W-30

  • 0-W30

And if heat is the issue, consider switching to a more high-temperature oil. Some synthetic oils are made to survive temperatures of at most 500 degrees Fahrenheit!

If you have a newer model of car, you may want to hold off on that oil change as advancement in technology has allowed them to endure rough terrain and extreme climates and be able to reach ideal oil temperatures much sooner if driven.


The Monetary Consequences of Idling

Why do people idle? Many may idle for safety and security, but having peace of mind may be far less salient than the money you're throwing away. Gas prices are on the rise in the Lone Star state, and with a possible recession under way, saving money couldn’t be more necessary. Idling can waste up to ½ gallon of gas an hour, and if you idle frequently the number can stack up.


The Environmental and Health Consequences of Idling

An idling vehicle can be detrimental to the planet we live on. Idling for more than 10 seconds emits emissions of

  • Carbon Monoxide

  • Benzene

  • Nitric Oxide

  • Formaldehyde

  • Unburned Hydrocarbon Fuel

  • Nitrogen Dioxide

These combined pollutants can get trapped in the Earth's ozone layer leading to respiratory issues, lung cancer, acid rain, and depletion in the ozone layer.


The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that both “light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles have wasted a combined output of 6 billion gallons of fuel annually.” There are 250 million personal cars driven every day, and with the limiting of unnecessary idling, it can be the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road. Do your part, and stop idling.


Call Today

Our auto repair team at Seymour's Garage has the experience and knowledge to answer even your toughest questions. In need of repairs, routine maintenance, or part replacements? Seymour’s Garage has got your back, click or call us at (210) 341-1171 to schedule your next car appointment today.




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