What is engine idling?

Do you drive a car or other vehicle in Leeds? 

Every day, thousands of drivers will idle needlessly on our roads. Did you know that idling is bad for your health, your wallet and for air quality in your community?

By trying to idle as little as possible, you can do your bit to help us tackle pollution in the air we breathe.

What is engine idling?

Idling is when your engine is operating even though your vehicle isn’t moving. It is better to switch your engine off if you are parked, waiting for someone, or stuck in gridlocked traffic.

Why is engine idling bad for air pollution

Whenever your vehicle’s engine is on, it uses fuel and emits harmful gases and particles into the air. Of course, this is necessary when you’re driving. But if your vehicle isn't moving, those emissions are unnecessary and avoidable. 

Why should you stop idling?

There are many good reasons to stop idling: 

  1. Idling is bad for your health. When you're idling, you are emitting harmful gases into the air around you. Air pollution has been linked to a range of different health risks.
  2. Idling is bad for your finances. Idling wastes fuel and increases wear on your car. By minimising idling, you could save dozens of litres of fuel (and pounds!) every year.
  3. Idling is bad for the our National Health Service. The serious health effects of air pollution costs the NHS millions of pounds every year. 

How long should you leave your car running idle?

It is better to turn off your engine if you think that you will be stationary for around two minutes or longer. 

Should I idle my vehicle before using it?

No. In the past it was safer to let your car warm up by idling before driving it. Nowadays, engines don't need any longer than a few seconds of idling before they are ready to drive. 

Will restarting my engine damage my engine or battery?

No. Turning your engine off and on again doesn't damage your engine, drain the battery or waste fuel. In fact, it is much better for the health of your engine than idling. Don't worry about draining the battery either. Modern vehicle batteries don't need the engine on constantly to keep them charged.

What are Leeds City Council doing to tackle engine idling?

We are taking action to reduce the number of idling vehicles at schools and taxi ranks. These include signs, leaflets, active engagement and a poster competition in schools. Studies show that when drivers learn about engine idling they are much less likely to idle in the future. 

My vehicle has a 'stop-start' system. Do I need to do anything?

No! If your vehicle has an automatic 'stop-start' system, we recommend that you leave it enabled. This feature switches off your engine as soon as you stop moving and will restart it as soon as you accelerate. As a result, you'll save money and won't have to worry about idling.

Is idling illegal?

According to Rule 123 of The Highway Code, you must not idle on a public road unnecessarily. Drivers who break this rule can be issued with fines.