What Happens If You Forget to Turn Your Car Off?

February 23, 2024

We’ve all been there: you get out of your car after an exhausting day, rush inside to collapse on the couch, and forget to turn off the engine in the rush. Unfortunately, it can be a dangerous mistake. For one thing, idling engines produce harmful emissions that contribute to air pollution. In addition, idling for long periods of time can drain the battery and cause the alternator to malfunction. Finally, idling the engine can waste fuel, which is bad for both the environment and your wallet.

Some newer cars allow you to start and stop the vehicle simply by pushing a button. In some cases, drivers have gotten out of these cars, closed the garage door behind them, and then forgotten to shut off the engine. As a result, the car has been running and producing carbon monoxide for hours or even days before the driver realizes they’ve made a mistake.

While this is a serious problem, there are ways to avoid it. Many of these cars are designed to beep internally and externally if they’re left on for too long, and some also have sensors that will shut off the engine after a certain amount of time. The best way to prevent this problem is to set a reminder on your phone or use another device that will go off when you need to remember to turn off your car. Also, make sure you regularly have any ignition system issues addressed in a timely manner.


Traffic Dave is on a mission to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.
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