What Is Idling?

Vehicle idling occurs when a vehicle is in operation but not in motion. Although the vehicle is stopped, the engine is still running and creating unnecessary emissions.

Reasons for Idling

Idling occurs in many places including roadways, truck stops and rest areas, bus terminals, restaurant drive-through, tourist attractions, landfill and lineups, airport, car washes, company terminals or distribution centres, and school’s zones.

Idling Implications

Particulate Matter and ground level ozone are air pollutants that are of great concern to human and environmental health.

Q & A

What About Clearing My Windshield in Winter?

Scrape your vehicle’s windows and don't rely solely on the defrost/defog function. Use a brush and scraper to remove ice and snow and use a block heater (only for two hours) when the temperature is below freezing to reduce fuel use (by about 10%), emissions and provide heat for your defroster faster.

During Winter Do I Need to Warm Up My Vehicle?

The best way to warm up your vehicle is to drive it at a moderate speed after 30 seconds, even on the coldest of winter days. As an added bonus, you save fuel because an efficient operating temperature is reached twice as fast as when the vehicle is stationary.  However, for the first five to ten minutes, drive the car gently, with smooth braking and acceleration, to avoid putting unnecessary stress on the engine. Keep the RPM's low and don’t slam on the brakes—this is enough to allow your car to warm up while in motion.

What If It Is Very Hot or Cold Outside?

If you are waiting, turn off your engine and seek more moderate temperatures in a nearby building, or in the shade. In hot, sunny conditions, seek a shady parking area and use windshield and window sun shades.
Do not stay in an idling vehicle due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and high pollution levels of toxic substances (measured to be 10x higher than outside). People (e.g. children, elderly) or pets in your care should never be left unattended in an idling vehicle.

What To Do Instead Of Idling?

•    Turn off your car
•    Don’t use a remote starter to warm your vehicle; Warm up your car by driving it
•    Instead of using drive-through go inside the building, but if you must, turn off the vehicle while waiting.

For more information, visit:

Province of British Columbia Vehicle Emissions
Natural Resources Canada