A shared service delivering Environmental Health, Licensing and Trading Standards across Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council

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03 March 2020 - Car Idlying Myths

Car Idling Myths

Dispelling myths around stopping and starting your vehicle. 

If motorists can start making small changes today it will help to improve air quality for everyone and potentially reduce the likelihood of charges having to be imposed on certain vehicles entering urban areas.

Myth: Starting an engine causes more pollution than idling.
Fact: Turning an engine off and restarting it after a minute or longer causes less pollution than keeping the engine idling and uses less fuel.

Myth: The engine needs to stay on to keep the battery fully charged.
Fact: Modern batteries need less engine running time to work and don’t need the engine on constantly to keep them charged.

Myth: It is better to idle the vehicle as turning the engine off and on wears it out.
Fact: Ignitions in modern cars have eliminated this problem. Idling dirties your engine with incomplete combustion increasing wear and tear. Maintaining your vehicle is important for preventing breakdowns and reducing air pollution.

Myth: Catalytic converters need to be hot to work properly.
Fact: Yes, but an idling engine does not keep a catalytic convertor warm. They retain their heat for about 25 minutes after an engine is switched off.

Myth: When it’s cold I need to keep my vehicle and passengers warm or warm up my engine.
Fact: It can take up to an hour for an engine to cool down. Turning off your engine on but keeping the ignition on and the fan blowing, will provide warm air for some time.

Myth: - "Idling doesn't put out a lot of pollution"
Fact: - An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion. An idling car can fill up to 150 balloons with harmful emissions every minute. Switching off your engine can go a long way to improving air quality.

Myth: - "Leaving your car running is cheaper than turning it off and on again"
Fact: - It is cheaper to turn off your engine. Sitting in your car with your engine running could cost you more than you think. Between 5% and 8% of fuel use occurs while idling.

Myth: - "It's better to be inside the car than out of it - it protects me from the fumes"
Fact: - The air quality inside the car can be up to twice as worse than outside, and is even worse in Winter. Why not try walking or cycling on quieter routes?

Myth: - "I need to keep the engine running to keep the heater on"
Fact: - If you park and keep the ignition on, rather than turning the car off completely, the heater should stay warm for up to 30 minutes.

Myth: - "It's not illegal to idle"
Fact:- It is illegal. Leaving a vehicle's engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road could get you a fine of £20.

Myth: - "Idling doesn't damage people's health"
Fact: - Vehicles idling can put as much as twice as much pollutants as a car in motion. Reducing air pollution can help cut heart disease, reduce lung cancer and prevent asthma cases. Up to 160,000 deaths a year are due to poor air quality.

Poor air quality affects everyone - especially children. Remember to switch off your engine!

West Berkshire