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Idling Cars Are the Devil's Work

By Jocelyn Geboy in News on Oct 24, 2006 9:00PM

Chicagoist's dad is sort of weird. Well, lots of weird. He refuses to use his turn signal in nearly every occasion unless someone is right up on him because he doesn't see the need to "waste blinks" and burn out the fuse. Whaa? Better yet, he likes to shift his automatic and put his car in neutral at stop lights. We have NO clue what this is accomplishing, but he claims that this "saves gas." OOO-kay.

2006_10traffic.jpgHowever, Glencoe resident Lynn Romanek is thinking that we all need to step it up a little in the saving-the-environment department. And she wants us to turn off our cars if we're going to sit and wait somewhere. It wastes gas (which is your business) and releases more crap into the ozone (which is everyone's business). It seems Lynn got all inspired to do something after seeing An Inconvenient Truth.

When we first heard that we were supposed to cut the engine when idling, we had horrific visions of the city's noise pollution quadrupling in size with all of the horn honking that would be going on. The cabbies don't even wait a second for a green light before they start with the horns; we can't imagine what they'd do if someone had to re-start their car.

But Romanek is talking about the parents who wait for their kids after school or people who are waiting for people in stores and the like. The recommendation is that if you wait for more than thirty seconds, turn the car off. However, there are some concerns/myths/questions about the practice. Does it ruin the starter? Idling is supposed to be good for the car? It uses more gas to re-start the engine than to just leave it running?

Not so much, says the California Energy Commission. Their website takes down every single one of those ideas. With all the SUVs roaming the land, we're beginning to think this might not be such a bad idea. On the other hand, a car cools down pretty damn quick in winter, so we're torn. But, if global warming keeps up, maybe we'll not have much of a winter in about ten years. Who knows.

Image via *mb**.