Today’s tip –

Ignore the temptation to idle your vehicle

Want to save money and do your part to protect air quality? Just limit the time you allow your vehicle to idle.

Idling is expensive

An average car burns nearly a gallon of gas for every hour spent idling. All vehicles get zero miles to the gallon while idling. In general, 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the car.

Idling harms air quality

Exhaust from an idling car carries a higher load of pollutants than a moving car, so reducing unnecessary idling is an easy way we can all do something to improve air quality.

Vehicle motors release particulate matter, dirt, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air. Chemicals in vehicle exhaust are linked to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease and asthma and are the major source of human-caused climate change. Children are especially vulnerable to vehicle air pollution because their lungs are still developing, and they inhale more pounds of pollution per pound of body weight than adults do.

While it may be tempting to idle your car to warm it up, a short warm-up time is better for a car’s engine – today’s engines warm up in less than 30 seconds. Driving a vehicle cuts warm-up time in half, and idling is harder on the engine than driving.

Idling violates City ordinance

To protect air quality, Minneapolis ordinance limits most idling to three minutes. Illegal idling can carry a fine of $200.

If the air temperature outside is colder than zero, idling is allowed for 15 minutes for the comfort and safety of the driver or passengers. But keep in mind that leaving a car unattended with a key in the ignition is also against the law.

Exceptions for City-related driving include:

If you are unclear about whether the idling ordinance affects your work-related driving, talk to your supervisor.

More information

For more information about the anti-idling ordinance, visit

For information about sustainability efforts in Minneapolis and what you can do to protect our quality of life, visit  


Published Feb 15, 2012