Green News

No need to warm up your car by idling

Posted by Environment Smart on 01/14 at 01:37 PM
Tips and How-to'sAutomotivePermalink

It is a bloody cold day in my neck of the woods. At 8:30am the temperature is -23.3C. The wind chill makes it even colder than that. 

This is the kind of weather that makes folks want to pre-warm their cars. But, whether you want to warm the engine or the car interior for comfort, it is not a good idea to idle your car. There are a number of reasons why warming your car by idling it is not recommended. Aside from the fact that it is a waste of fuel, pre-warming the car is not actually gentler on the engine, as many people believe.

Most of today's cars use electronic fuel injection. The cars are designed so that the computer tells the fuel injectors to stay open longer when the car engine is cold. This allows more fuel into the engine to help it run cold. When the engine warms up, the injectors let in less fuel. 

Letting your car sit and idle for 15 minutes is actually a slower way to bring it up to operating temperature. According to the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), the best way to warm up your engine is to drive it. Even if the outside temperature is -20°C, they recommend that you idle the engine for only 15-30 seconds before you pull out onto the road. 

Idling your car in cold weather can actually invite several problems. Richard Backus, editor in chief of Gas Engine magazine explains the following:

"Remember that modern cars are equipped with a multitude of devices to help them run clean, including a catalytic converter (sometimes three of them), a device in the exhaust system that works to burn off unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream. A cold engine emits a far higher percentage of unburned hydrocarbons than a warm engine. Unfortunately, the average catalytic converter can’t process 100 percent of unburned hydrocarbons even in the best of times. Importantly, the catalytic converter needs high exhaust temperatures to work properly. Throw in a cold engine emitting a high percentage of unburned hydrocarbons, repeat several hundred times, and you can end up with what’s called a “plugged” converter. In a nutshell, the converter becomes overwhelmed and literally ceases to function. This won’t happen all at once but over time, the end effect is the same: poor mileage and significantly dirtier exhaust."

The Canadian OEE also adds that what is often forgotten is that "idling warms only the engine – not the wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires. These parts also need to be warmed up, and the only way to do that is to drive the vehicle. Until the engine temperature begins to rise, it's a good idea to avoid high speeds and rapid acceleration."

Remember that it is also important to make sure that your car windows are free from snow and frost before you drive away!

I leave you with this from Natural Resources Canada idle-free zone campaign:

"As an individual, you can be instrumental in reducing environmental impacts. If every driver of a light duty vehicle avoided idling by three minutes a day, collectively over the year, we would save 630 million litres of fuel, over 1.4 million tonnes of GHGemissions, and $630 million annually in fuel costs (assuming fuel costs are $1.00/L)."



About the author: Environment Smart

Reduce Smog – Check Your Vehicle

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/16 at 11:56 AM
Tips and How-to'sAutomotivePermalink

Giving your personal car, van, SUV or truck a regular check-up goes a long way in reducing the pollution it puts out into the environment. It is our responsibility to make sure that our vehicles are in the best shape they can be in. It should not only be our personal driving safety that we are concerned about, but also the health of our environment.

About the author: Environment Smart

Tire pressure and air filters - increase your fuel mileage

Posted by TheGreen on 08/24 at 03:34 PM
Tips and How-to'sAutomotivePermalink

A lot of people lately have been telling us that we need to ensure that our tire pressure is up to snuff. Meaning, check your tire pressure, and check it regularly. Low tire pressure is not only dangerous, but it can also result in poor mileage. Take our vacation to Prince Edward Island a few years back. Relatives who were visiting from Holland had rented a camper for the trip while we packed our car with our camping gear. Their tank was full, and yet, after only 200 kilometers the tank was empty! Surely something must be wrong we figured, and it was suggested they verify the tire pressure. They found that two of the tires on this rented camper were very soft. Once the pressure was topped up, they started getting the proper mileage for the camper which was closer to 450 kilometers per tank.

Another item to check, which I had forgotten about for two years is your air filter. Our vehicle is nine years old and we do some of our own maintenance, like changing the air filter. Our mileage was just below 400 kilometers per tank, and after we changed the air filter we jumped back up to 450 kilometers per tank. Okay, our air filter was abnormally dirty, but you get the picture.

So go outside right now, take two minutes and check the tire pressure on your vehicle(s), and the air filter. You can usually find the recommended tire pressure on the car frame inside the driver’s door. 

If you have other hints and tips and would like to share them, feel free to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or post them in a comment.

About the author: TheGreen