June 21, 2008

Idling your car costs about 2¢ per minute

I found this article by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers that said :
Idling a V6 engine without AC on used 0.5 gallons of gas in 90 minutes. So if I do the math for $4 gas costs then that's:

$4 per gallon * 0.5 gallons / 90 minutes = $0.0222 / minute

It costs 2¢ to idle your car for a minute.

Your exact cost will vary and depend on the efficiency of the car. V8's will use more and 4 cylinders will use less. But lets use that 2¢ as a estimate.

Why does 2¢ a minute matter? Of course if you sit idling your car for an hour at a time that will cost you $1.20 an hour. But I doubt many of us do that. However we do idle our cars a lot and just don't realize it. Lets say you do the following: You drive to Starbucks and go through the drive through and idle 2 minutes in line. Then you drive to school to drop off the kids and sit in the car for 1 minute while you say good buy. Then you swing by the bank and sit in the drive up lane for 5 minutes while you wait behind 2 other customers. Later in the day you return to pick up the kids at school and you're a few minutes early so you end up waiting 5 minutes there. That seems pretty typical right? It adds up to 13 minutes in that day for a cost of $0.26. If you did this same kind of thing every weekday then you'd be spending an extra $5 a month or $60 a year in excess gas use.

To keep from wasting money while idling your car consider going inside a place of business (fast food, bank) instead of using the drive up. If you know you'll be waiting for more than a minute then turn the car off.

You might have heard that it costs more gas to restart the car than to idle it. Well this simply isn't true for anything but the shortest periods. Edmonds tested it and found that you save gas by turning off your car for anything over a minute.

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