How Long Can a Car Idle and What Happens During Idling?

Do you ever think about how long can a car idle when waiting at a traffic sign or warming it up on a chilly morning? Idling is the state when the engine runs but the vehicle is not in motion. You sometimes need to idle the car, especially when you have not used it for a long time. The engine gets jammed when left idle for weeks or months. Idling for a minute every week will keep the engine components and mechanism in shape. Diesel-run vehicles also need a few minutes of idling for clearing the exhaust of its fumes.

So how long can a car run idle in this condition? Does doing so burn too much fuel?

What Is Idling And Why Is It Sometimes Necessary?

Idling is what happens when you let your car keep running without actually moving. For most vehicles which run on the street, there is nothing you can do other than idle your car when you are stuck in the traffic. Especially for someone who uses diesel engines, not letting the car idle can be considered a borderline criminal offense. Idling a diesel engine actually allows the exhaust fumes to clear.

How Long Can a Car Idle?

A vehicle actually consumes only a small amount of fuel when idling. So, how long can a car idle? The answer is – indefinitely. However, it depends on a few conditions. The idling will last forever until:

  • Something breaks. Keeping the car standstill with the engine on for a very long time can put stresses on some components and break the fan belt or thermostat. If your automobile is not well-maintained or all the systems are not properly functioning, then it could happen.
  • The car runs out of gas. After that, the engine will stop and the vehicle will cool down to the ambient temperature.

It is the same when you park your car in the parking lot. Many people ask “how long can I leave my car running while parked”. Definitely, the time of idling your vehicle depends on how many gas you have in the gas tank and is there any part of your car broken.

If you are going to leave your car in the idling state for months, don’t forget to disconnect the battery before leaving. Otherwise, the battery will be drained out and need to be recharged. When you need to start the engine, just connect the battery and the vehicle will run without any issue.

          SEE MORE:

How Long Can a Car Idle: The Precautions You Should Take

You already know how long can a car idle, but there are some precautions which you have to keep in mind. They are: 

  • Keep the car maintained and service on a regular basis.
  • Disconnect the battery. Keep it in a dry place with its terminals oiled.
  • Spray oil on the spark plug sockets after removing them. Then, put them back into their slots. It will prevent the forming of rust on the cylinder head.
  • To prevent rolling, put the car in first gear and use wood or a similar material on four wheels. Don’t make the mistake of engaging the parking brake.

How Long Should A Car Idle?

There is a clear answer for how long can a car idle, but how long should a car idle? It is believed that you should keep your car idling for 30 second to a minute would suffice. So when you are stuck in the traffic or wait for the traffic light. Let’s check if you have to wait more than 1 minute, turn off the engine. Leaving it running for longer than 1 minute that would bring additional pollution to the air. Or if you turn off the engine even if you just need to wait for 10 – 20 seconds, it consumes more fuel than letting your car idle. 

What about parking, how long can you keep your car running in park? When you park a car, after packing, usually most of us will take some minute to relax, get prepared before going out of the car. It may take a few minutes, take time for us. No one wants to come out without being well prepared. But you should not idle the car for too long, it will be dangerous for you and your passenger. If your car is idle and the air conditioner is on, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning. 

What Happens When a Vehicle Idles for a Long Time?

You can leave your car idling for a few minutes although the modern vehicles don’t need idling to be warmed up. The models running with an automatic transmission also don’t need it. You can just rev up the engine and drive even if it’s a cold morning.

So is it bad to let your car idle? However, you should not leave the vehicle in that state for a long time (more than 30 minutes) because it will burn fuel and cause damage to the environment by releasing exhaust fumes.

Sum Up

We hope that this information will help you have broadened knowledge about how long can a car idle and what happens during idling. If you have any questions about car idling, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below. At the same time, do not forget to follow our maintenance tips for better understanding your car and repair when it needs.