Don’t be idle, switch off your engine

Leaving your engine running when your vehicle is stationary is called idling. This creates air pollution by increasing the levels of exhaust fumes and harmful gases in the air.  Air pollution irritates the lungs, lowers resistance to infection and makes conditions like asthma, heart and lung disease worse.

You don't need to leave your engine running when parked up waiting for someone or  if you’re in traffic and haven’t moved for a while. Idling wastes fuel and can increase wear and tear on your engine. With modern vehicles, the cost of switching off the engine and starting up again after a minute or more will be less than the cost of leaving the engine idling.

It’s easy to play your part in improving our air quality. Simply switch off your engine if you’re going to be stationary for more than a minute.

By switching off your engine when it’s practical and safe to do so, you’ll help protect your health, save money and reduce air pollution.

Know the facts and dispel the myths about idling

Myth: Starting an engine causes more pollution than idling.
Fact: Turning an engine off and restarting it after a minute or longer causes less pollution than keeping the engine idling and uses less fuel.

Myth: The engine needs to stay on to keep the battery fully charged.
Fact: Modern batteries need less engine running time to work and don’t need the engine on constantly to keep them charged.

Myth: It is better to idle the vehicle as turning the engine off and on wears it out.
Fact: Ignitions in modern cars have eliminated this problem. Idling dirties your engine with incomplete combustion increasing wear and tear. Maintaining your vehicle is important for preventing breakdowns and reducing air pollution.

Myth: Catalytic converters need to be hot to work properly.
Fact: Yes, but an idling engine does not keep a catalytic convertor warm. They retain their heat for about 25 minutes after an engine is switched off.

Myth: When it’s cold I need to keep my vehicle and passengers warm or warm up my engine.
Fact: It can take up to an hour for an engine to cool down. Turning off your engine on but keeping the ignition on and the fan blowing, will provide warm air for some time.

Find out more about how to protect yourself and your family from air pollution at the Clean Air Day website.

Go to the Kent Air website to get information and data about air quality around Kent.

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