GPS Fleet Tracking

How Long Can a Car Idle, and Does Idling Cause Damage?

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You’ve likely heard that you shouldn't idle your vehicles for long periods. It sounds like an easy feat, but when you’re running a fleet, you may find idling is a problem you’re facing. It’s essential to know precisely how long a car can idle and what damage idling causes. Let’s first explore the reasons you may see idling happening in your fleet. 

Why Are My Fleet Drivers Idling?

There are many reasons you may be experiencing idling in your fleet, and not all of them must be reduced. There are two types of idling: operational idling and true idling. Operational idling occurs when a vehicle is stationary but running power to external equipment, or idling to warm up a vehicle to legal limits. However, you want to reduce true idling such as when the engine is running, the vehicle is not changing position, and no assets are in use. 

There are a lot of opportunities to idle throughout the day. Your drivers may idle while in stop-and-go traffic, waiting in a drive-through line, eating their lunch in their car, or doing paperwork between jobs. You’ll want to reduce these types of idling as much as possible. 

How Long Can a Car Idle?

The longest you should allow your car to idle is 30 seconds to one minute. Any longer than that, and you may be causing damage to your vehicle. 

Does Idling Cause Damage?

Idling has many adverse effects on your vehicle. First and most obviously, it burns up gas. Gas is a precious resource for fleets that should always be used wisely. Every two minutes you spend idling wastes fuel your vehicles could have used to go a whole mile. Secondly, idling uses up your oil, meaning you need to have your oil changed more often. 

However, idling can do the most significant damage to your engine. Idling for a long time can cause fuel residue to build up. It can also cause damage to your spark plugs, cylinders, and exhaust systems. 

Myths About Idling

People believe two significant myths that contribute significantly to vehicle idling.

  1. I’m warming up my car. Today’s engines don’t require more than 30 seconds to warm up. And driving is more effective in warming up your engine than idling is. 
  1. Turning my car off and on is bad for it. Does this practice harm the engine? It has a very minimal effect on your battery and starter motor. However, repairing these components costs significantly less than fixing the damage caused by idling. 

How to Reduce Idling with Azuga

Telematics is your friend if you want to reduce idling in your fleet. Azuga’s fleet management software can help you determine if idling is a problem for your drivers and where it may occur. If traffic is the problem, you can use Azuga Routes to find better paths to your destinations with less traffic. If your drivers’ behavior is the problem, you can pinpoint the drivers who need coaching and monitor their improvement. To learn more about what you can do with Azuga, speak with one of our experts today.