We're on Day Two of the AJAC EcoRun, designed to illustrate to Canadians the terrific advances in fuel-saving technology that the industry is making available, and to show that you can improve your own fuel consumption no matter what vehicle you're driving, by adopting a lighter-foot approach, and applying a bit more common sense to your driving style.
One of the most important things you can do to save fuel of course is - not idle.
By definition, you're using infinite litres of fuel per 100 km - getting zero miles per gallon - if your engine is running and you're not going anywhere.
And no, it does NOT take more fuel to re-start your engine than to keep it running. A study done many years ago for big trucks showed that shutting the engine off and re-starting it 30 times a minute - i.e., about as fast as you can do it - still uses less fuel than idling it for that minute.
The 'Eco' driving course we all took prior to doing this EcoRun said that if it looks like you'll be idling for more than 30 seconds, you should shut your engine off.
I think it should be an even shorter time than that, but 30 seconds at most...
Some jurisdictions - including Toronto - have an anti-idling by-law, although it seems more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
Idling is stupid, but idling when the engine is cold is even stupider. In fact, it's the worst possible thing you can do for your car's engine, short of sabotage.
The raw gasoline can wash the lubricating oil off cylinder walls, leading to premature wear.
And the engine also operates more efficiently when warm, and it warms up faster when under load - i.e., when you're driving.
As soon as the engine runs smoothly after a cold start - 10 -15 seconds tops - you should get rolling.
So while we are here spreading this Save The Trees gospel to the masses, what does General Motors do?
Announces that remote starters will become standard equipment on all their 2014 vehicles that are OnStar-equipped - which I think is almost all of them.
The Remote Start nonsense is part of a package of remote services available through a 'RemoteLink Mobile' app, which includes remote unlocking and horn/lights activation via a smart phone.
Lights, horn and unlocking, maybe.
Don't even think about it.
Geez GM, not only does your timing suck with respect to announcing this during EcoRun, but the whole idea sucks.
Warming up a car interior with an inefficent gasoline engine is the worst possible thing you can do - for your car, for your wallet, for the environment.
I know people who have these damned things - and leave their cars running for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour, while they drink their morning coffee - love them.
But come on - car companies go to all this trouble and expense to make their cars more fuel-efficient, then they pander to these wusses whose tushes are too tender to sit on a cold seat cushion for two minutes?
We all suffer the resultant higher car prices because of the added fuel saving technologies that governments are mandating, and these people are throwing this fuel away because they're too cheap to buy a pair of gloves?
At least the car companies should be forced to put a warning sticker on the sun visor saying, "Using Your Remote Starter Today Will Kill A Tree Tomorrow", or words to that effect. I'd be happy to help with the wording.
Your car has a cup holder - use it, and take your coffee with you.
And if it has a remote starter, please, if you care at all for your environment, do NOT use it.
For all our sakes.