Idling: Fleet Manager's Worst Enemy

As a child, I recall my mom entering her car after a cold night. The view outside was barely visible from the window, shrouded in frost and leaving my childhood imagination to interpret the blurred images.

My mom would then proceed to turn on the engine and wait. The familiar idling meant to help warm up the freezing cold engine and allow for the vehicle to arrive to its final destination. Well final for me at least. Following several minutes, the vehicle, properly heated, will move out of it’s parking space and continue its movement toward the local elementary school. This was the routine of every morning and it is well embedded in my memories.

Modern cars are void of this ritual and drivers can begin their route immediately after the engine begins running. Today’s engines take no more than 30 seconds to begin warming and heat up more effectively while driving than standing. This also means that idling should be a thing of the past. The only reason a vehicle should stand with the engine running is in case of a red light, or the unfortunate instance of a traffic jam.

Other than these 2 instances, vehicles should either be moving with the engine running or completely turned off.

Experts recommend turning off the engine for parking more than 30 seconds.

“The total cost of fuel consumed due to idling came out to $20,718.66”


Why Idling Is Harmful?

  1. Fuel – Idling is costing you money. 10 seconds of idling burns more fuel than turning the engine On and Off. Studies show that in the US, idling wastes 1.8 billion liters of fuel annually.
  2. Engine Maintenance – Idling means the engine is not running at its peak temperature. The fuel in the vehicle is not fully combusted which can cause a buildup of fuel impacting the vehicle’s spark plus, cylinders and exhaust systems. We are talking real damage here which can result in having to completely replace the mentioned parts.
  3. Environment – Engine combustion releases several harmful gasses into the air. This include carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and more.
  4. Idling has also been connected to the driver’s health. The emissions caused by excessive idling can result in asthma, allergies, heart, and lung disease and even cancer.


Why Do We Idle?

  1. Lack of AwarenessDrivers are simply not aware of the damages of idling.
  2. Improper EducationIn the past, vehicle idling was necessary and therefore drivers were taught by their parents they should keep the engine on, especially in cold areas, to ensure the proper functioning of the engine.
  3. Convenience – Sitting in a hot vehicle waiting for your spouse or child to arrive and allow you to drive home can be exhausting. The same can be said for taking a short nap or eating a quick hamburger during a long drive.


What Can Be Done?

  • As mentioned, idling is often a result of misinformation. Drivers are simply not aware of the risks of idling and therefore don’t mind doing so. As such, fleet and operation managers can take the measures needed to educate drivers that idling is not only costing them money, but it endangers the lives of themselves and others.
  • Monitor the idling times and locations over time. Perhaps the driver prefers a specific spot to take a nap or a convenient rest area to catch a quick snack. Monitoring these patterns can help minimize them before they occur.
  • Monitor drivers who have a high tendency for idling. Disciplinary measures against these drivers can have an immediate impact on your fuel costs and help minimize the dangers to the environment.


Galooli’s fleet management solution detects and provides analysis of idling behavior providing information on the amount of idling hours registered, as well as the total amount of fuel consumption as a result of vehicle idling and it’s cost.

As an example, we testing a fleet consisting of 50 vehicles for a period of 30 days and discovered the following:

  • 15% of the total fuel consumption was a result of idling.
  • The total cost of fuel consumed due to idling came out to $20,718.66.
  • Total idling cost came out to 13% of the total fuel costs.

Contact Us for more information on galooli’s fleet management solution