May 21,




When the cold weather descends on our community, we crave the warmth.  And by extension, this means warming up our vehicles before driving.

But poor air quality is becoming a serious problem in our area – summer and winter – with Peterborough City and County often registering some of the worst air quality readings in Ontario.  Reducing vehicle warm-up times can help with this problem and save you fuel costs!

Did You Know?

  • With today’s computer-controlled, fuel-injected engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of “warm-up” idling on winter days before driving away.  Even at -18oC, most cars require only 15 to 30 seconds of idling.
  • Idling in cold weather is hard on your engine because it isn’t working at peak operating temperature. When this happens fuel doesn’t undergo complete combustion leaving fuel residues that contaminate engine oil and make spark plugs dirty.  The best way to warm a vehicle to optimal operating temperature is to actually drive it!
  • When you warm-up a vehicle you need to warm more than the engine. The tires, transmission, wheel bearings and other moving parts also need to be warm for the vehicle to perform well. Most of these parts don’t begin to warm up until you actually drive! Start slowly though and don’t go for high speeds for the first 5 kilometres.
  • Warming up for only 30 seconds in cold weather will save fuel because it cuts the warm-up time in half!  By reducing idling time by five minutes a day over a year, drivers can save 55 litres of fuel and a lot of unnecessary emissions.
  •  Safety still comes first!  Drivers should ensure they have clear visibility before heading out.  Keep a scraper for your windows available and make sure you have a set of gloves on hand to manage those cold steering wheels!


the use of drive-throughs.Turn your vehicle off if parked for more than 10 seconds. Idling for more than 10 seconds costs more fuel than turning off your engine. Component wear caused by frequent restarting is estimated at $10 per year, money that will be easily recovered many times over in fuel savings from reduced idling.

Catch a brisk walk to your favourite food stop instead. The inside line-up is often shorter than the drive-through line.

Avoid the use of remote car starters.
A remote car starter will just encourage you to start the car before you’re ready to leave, which means unnecessary idling.

Use a block heater on a timer.
This reduces engine wear, improves fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. Use an automatic timer to turn on the block heater two hours before you plan to start the vehicle.

Air pollution is a serious problem.
Reducing unnecessary vehicle idling contributes to a cleaner, healthier Peterborough City and County.

Last modified on Aug 21, 2012

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