Did you know that if you swallow your gum it will stay in your stomach for seven years? If you sneeze with your eyes open, they will pop out of your head? If you keep making that funny face it will stay like that forever? And you must always idle your car in the winter!

What do these statements have in common? They are some of the great myths that were passed down to us from our parents, and likely, their parents before them.

And boy, did they work!

For a long time, I believed them. Part of me is still on the fence about how long gum will stay in your stomach after you swallow it…

One thing I do know for sure though, is that there are some common misconceptions about idling your vehicle in the winter. Why don’t we delve in and share some of the myths and facts!

Vehicles should be warmed up before driving, especially in the winter because its better for the engines.

Because of the way engines are built today, they don’t need to be warmed up – even in the winter. No more than 30 seconds of warm-up time is required. Easing into a drive is the best way to warm up your vehicle, and it will warm it up faster!

Idling can damage your engine and its components, including cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems. Idling can lead to a build up of fuel residue that will damage these components and increase fuel consumption.

It’s better to leave your vehicle idling than to turn it off and restart it because it is hard on the engine, uses more fuel and produces more pollution.

This sounds completely sensible, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not. Studies show that turning off and restarting your engine has no impact on the engine or its components. Idling, however, makes your engine operate in an inefficient manner that affects your engines performance and decreases gas mileage. Another fun fact – idling your vehicle for more than ten seconds uses much more fuel than turning it off and restarting it.

Driving your vehicle directly after a cold start heats up your engine significantly faster than letting it idle. And when it heats up faster, it can reduce emission by as much as 99%.

Idling your vehicle is safer for the environment than turning off and restarting your engine.

When your vehicle idles it produces twice as much exhaust emissions than restarting your vehicle or a vehicle in motion. These emissions contain pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which affect air quality and, ultimately, our health.

Did You Know?

  1. For every litre of gasoline used, a vehicle produces 2.3 kilograms of CO2, a greenhouse gas directly linked to climate change.
  2. In Canada, if people avoided idling their vehicles for three minutes a day, emissions could decrease by 1.4M tonnes, the equivalent of taking 320,00 vehicles off the road a year.
  3. It is illegal in 30 US states to idle your vehicle!

I know how nice it is to get into a warm vehicle when it is below freezing outside, believe me! But the many long-term benefits of not idling far outweigh the single benefit of a toasty vehicle. I got used to it so I trust that anyone can!