Save Money, Save Gas, Save Your Car’s Engine When Idling

Guest Post: Mike from I’ve been a fan of his blog for months, and was pretty excited to meet him face to face during one of our DC area happy hours (holler if you’d like to come out one day). Mike has written one of the most helpful posts I’ve seen, and I recommend it each and every time a blogger asks for advice: 50 Tips for New Personal Finance Bloggers. Enjoy today’s post!
Prior to starting, I thought nothing of just letting the car idle when I was waiting outside of a store, parked in my driveway, or waiting to pick up my wife from work. But now that I’m focused on finance daily, either writing articles or working with our own money and budget, I look for ways to save money in the most common and uncommon ways.

Well, this is one of those common, and common sense, ways to save money.

When I walk through the parking lot now, and see a car just sitting there idling (i.e. the engine is running for no reason), I just want to walk up, knock on the window and ask the driver (or passenger) why they’re doing it. I’ve refrained from doing so thus far only out of fear of getting mistaken as a carjacker and shot. So instead, I’m spreading the word here in hopes that at least one person turns off the car when idling. Not only will you save money and gas, but depending on how long you’re idling, you’ll save a bit of wear on your engine. And don’t chime in about the wear-and-tear on your starter; it’ll survive just fine.

You don’t need to limit the times you shut off the engine to just when you’re outside the store or your home. Now, at traffic signals with which I’m familiar, I stick my truck in neutral and shut off the engine. The only reason I don’t throw it into park is because all my doors automatically unlock and I’d rather keep them locked for my protection.

At the traffic light near my home, if I get the red light, I know I have at least 45 seconds of idling so shutting off the engine for that time is definitely worth it. I know when to start up the truck again by watching the pedestrian crossing signals and when they start flashing red. Some signals even give you a countdown which helps your timing even more.

The Safety Factor

There’s only one main argument against shutting off your vehicle while on the roadway: getting out of the way of emergency vehicles (or just getting out of the way). But here’s the thing; you have more than enough time from hearing the sirens to turning on your engine and moving. Personally, I’ve never been caught in this situation, but I have forgotten the truck was off once or twice and it was only a split second to start up and get moving.

Getting Your Stuff Done BEFORE Starting Up

Lastly, how many times do you start up the car, then buckle up, then situate your cup of coffee, then adjust the mirrors, then plug in your phone to the charger, then blah blah blah. How about you take care of everything else BEFORE starting the car? All those seconds add up and keep in mind that it’s not just about saving money, it’s also about not wasting.

So overall, if you aren’t comfortable with turning off your car while in traffic, I hope at least you’ll shut it off when you’re just idling in the parking lot or driveway.

Yours truly is honeymooning in the Caribbean and wishes you a very sexy day.

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  1. Will September 17, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    This is one I definitely have to disagree with. In fact, highly disagree with. Research has shown that the time your engine receives the most wear is when starting the engine. This is why cars with highway miles are better off than cars that are used for alot of short trips. Turning your car on and off wears your engine out! I remember reading somewhere that each time you turn your car on, it is equivalent to driving 200 miles, in terms to the amount of wear on your engine. I think this is hardly worth the couple cents you save in gas!

  2. J. Money September 19, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    oh wow, haven’t heard that one before! guess it makes sense, although I really don’t know anything about cars ;)


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