Excessive Idling

Idling your vehicle in the cold months can help your engine cope with the cold air but if you let it idle too long, you’re actually causing damage.

Don’t take our word for it though – according to Len Dubois trucking, a trucking and logistics company based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba; 500 hours of idling can equal 64 000 miles of drive time. For commercial trucking, excessive idling can damage your bottom line.

Len Dubois Trucking, in a blog post, lays out exactly how much excessive idling can take from your business.

“A truck burns between 0.7 – 1 gallon of fuel every hour while idling. That means you’re burning $3.22 to $4.60 per hour while idling the truck,” states the article. “If you idle your truck for eight hours a day, and you’re on the road 312 days, you’ll burn $8037 – $11 481 just in fuel alone.”

Well if excessive idling will harm your engine, what does excessive mean?

No longer than 10 minutes, if your engine is running idle longer than that, you run the risk of sulfur and carbon build up in the engine (diesel).

Your gas powered car or truck needs even less time – at most seven minutes. This is according to an Environment Canada test completed in 2008. They found that the most effective way to warm both the engine and cabin of a vehicle – is to drive it.

“The test results showed that with a 5-minute warm-up total fuel consumption increased by 7 to 14 percent and with a 10-minute warm-up total fuel consumption increased by 12 to 19 percent,” states Environment Canada.

When tested using a block heater they found that at -20 a block heater can improve fuel efficiency by 10 percent, at -25 that number jumps to 25 percent.

To recap: idling an engine, any engine, longer than 10 minutes does harm to the engine. In Peace River, as with most communities, excessive idling can also result in a bylaw ticket. Leaving your work truck humming in the driveway for half an hour at 5am? Your neighbours can hear that.

There are plenty of reasons not to excessively idle your vehicle so pick yours; the environment, engine life, economics, peaceful coexistence with your neighbours, or a bylaw ticket.


Len Dubois Trucking
Environment Canada
Town of Peace River Bylaw 1939 – Noise