On The Road: Vehicles... Idle-Free
One Day
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After a six-month education and awareness campaign, Vancouverís Idle-free Bylaw is now being enforced by the City.

The goal of the Idle-free Bylaw is to protect air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce urban noise,  reduce vehicle theft, and save money on fuel.

read the March 28th, 2007 press release

Vancouver's Idling complaint Hotline 604.257.2404

For issues regarding idling transit busses, in addition to the hotline you can call Translink at (604) 953-3040 with your concerns.  It is helpful if you can note location, date, time and even bus number.

For each minute Vancouverites idle per day, we collectively produce about 4,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas in a year- almost enough climate changing gas to fill BC Place Stadium. If everyone turned off their engine instead for each of those minutes, we will be saving the same amount of clean and pure air.

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One Day is a City of Vancouver initiative about how small individual actions to reduce energy use, at home and on the road, can make this the cleanest, greenest, healthiest city in the world.  And it starts with small steps, one day at a time, like not idling our vehicles unnecessarily...



Unnecessary idling wastes fuel and money, pollutes the air we breathe, contributes to climate change and fouls your engine.  After 10 seconds, idling your vehicle uses more fuel than restarting the engine.


On July 18, 2006 Vancouver City Council enacted a bylaw prohibiting parked vehicles from idling for more than three minutes. City bylaw enforcement officers will issuing $50 tickets for violations ($100 for trucks and unlocked unattended vehicles). Vehicles that are idling to enable them to operate equipment for commercial or public service purposes are exempt.

If you have problems with vehicles idling in front of your home, workplace, etc - you can request enforcement in Vancouver by calling (604) 257-2404. Please be sure to have details ready on where, when, and who is violating the bylaw to assist us in responding. (click here to read the bylaw)


Myth: Shutting off and restarting your vehicle is harder on the engine and uses more gas than if you leave it running

Extensive testing on behalf of Natural Resources Canada has proven that idling for periods as short as ten seconds uses more fuel and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than stopping and restarting your engine. Recent tests by Air Care confirms that this finding also applies to other forms of air pollution. This is because oxygen sensors on today's vehicles are electrically heated, preventing the engine from running too rich upon restarting and the catalytic converter does not cool down enough while the vehicle is shut off to justify idling the vehicle.

In addition, frequent restarting has little impact on engine components such as the battery and starter motor which are designed for many thousands of cycles over their lifetime. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling.  

Myth: The engine should be warmed up for long periods before driving and cooled down afterwards

Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in colder weather. Modern engines circulate oil throughout the engine quickly and the best way to warm up the lubricants in transmission etc. is to drive your vehicle. Even diesel engines in very cold weather (rarely seen in the Lower Mainland) require no more than 30 seconds of idling before starting to drive.

Under normal city driving conditions, turbo chargers do not need to cool down after use. If you have been driving a vehicle with a turbo charger at high-speeds or pulling a heavy load, you may want to idle it a few minutes before shutting it off (if recommended in your owners manual). 

Myth: Idling is good for your engine

Excessive idling can actually damage your engine's components, including cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system. That's because an idling engine is not operating at its peak temperature, which means that fuel combustion is incomplete. This leaves fuel residues that can condense on cylinder walls, where they can contaminate oil and damage engine components. For example, fuel residues tend to deposit on spark plugs. As the amount of engine idling increases, the average plug temperature drops and plug fouling is accelerated. This can increase fuel consumption by 4 to 5 percent. Excessive idling can also allow water to condense in the vehicle's exhaust, which can lead to corrosion and reduce the life of the exhaust system. 


Links for more information on vehicle idling

Natural Resources Canada 

BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation)

IdleFree BC 

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