Air Care Colorado Blog

AirCare Colorado Blog


Colorado Laws & Ordinances Limit Vehicle Idling to Combat Air Pollution


Many local and state governments have adopted laws and ordinances that limit vehicle idling to combat increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Each law and ordinance varies in who it targets, the basic overall structure, and the penalties associated with not complying, however, the overall objective of each law and ordinance remains the same – to protect air quality by reducing emissions created by unnecessary vehicle idling.

Colorado Laws and Ordinances

  • Aspen – Limits vehicle idling to five minutes in any one-hour period and the vehicle must be attended to at all times
  • Basalt – Limits vehicle idling to no more than two consecutive minutes
  • Denver – Limits vehicle idling to five minutes in any one-hour period and the vehicle must be attended to at all times.
  • Johnstown – Vehicles weighing more than ten thousand (10,000) pounds are forbidden from idling for more than 15 minutes in any one-hour period
  • Greenwood Village – Vehicles weighing more than twelve thousand (12,000) pounds are restricted from idling for a consecutive period longer than five minutes
  • Mountain Village – Limits vehicle idling to five minutes within any one-hour period and the vehicle must also be attended to by a licensed operator
  • Telluride – Limits vehicle idling to 30 seconds and vehicle must be attended by a driver. Idling time permitted is extended to three minutes for starting an engine in cold weather
  • Winter Park – Limits vehicle idling to no more than 15 consecutive minutes

In addition to the laws and ordinances listed above, Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1206, more commonly known as the "puffer" law, allows law enforcement officers across the state to immediately ticket individuals who have left a vehicle running unattended for any period of time.

Additional Laws and Ordinances from across the United States

  • District of Columbia – Limits vehicle idling to three minutes while the vehicle is parked, stopped, or standing, including for the purpose of operating air conditioning equipment in the vehicle
  • Salt Lake City, UT – Limits vehicle idling to two minutes within city limits. First offenses are provided a warning, however, subsequent offenses can result in a fine up to $410
  • Park City, UT – Limits vehicle idling to three minutes and carries a $100 fine for violators
  • Minneapolis, MN – Limits vehicle idling to no more than three minutes in any one-hour period. Vehicle operators may idle for up to 15 minutes in temperatures less than zero degrees or higher than 90 degrees
  • Vermont – School buses shall not idle the engine on school grounds for more than five minutes within a one-hour period and must turn off the main engine upon arrival

Common Exemptions Found in Idling Laws and Ordinances

  • The ambient outside air temperature has been less than twenty (20) degrees Fahrenheit for each hour of the previous twenty-four (24) hour period; or
  • The latest hourly ambient outside air temperature is less than ten (10) degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The idling restriction in subsection (a) shall not apply to emergency vehicles; to vehicles engaged in traffic control operations; to vehicles which are being serviced; to vehicles that must idle to operate auxiliary equipment, including but not limited to pumps, compressors or refrigeration units; or to vehicles en route to a destination that are stopped by traffic congestion.
  • The time during which transportation vehicles are actively loading or discharging passengers shall not be included in the computation of the five (5) minutes determined herein to be a prolonged or unreasonable period of time. A transportation vehicle shall be defined for purposes of this section to mean motor vehicles designed to transport a minimum of sixteen (16) persons

What Can I Do?

  • Encourage your elected officials to adopt an idling ordinance. For example, the City and County of Denver's Idling Vehicle Ordinance limits idling to five minutes in any one-hour period. Denver Police have the authority to ticket any vehicle left idling for a period longer than five minutes and can ticket immediately any vehicle left idling unattended ("puffer" law).
  • The Colorado State idling law, passed in 2011, allows local governments to limit idling by some of these vehicles (commercial diesel vehicles of 14,000 lbs or more) to no more than 5 minutes within 1 hour. Communities can impose a fine of up to $150 for first time offenses and up to $500 for second offenses and beyond.
  • Read the US EPA's Model Idling Ordinance.
  • Use this sample idling law as a template to draft your own legislation for your community


- See more at:

author: admin |


Kids, Show Us How to Help Keep the Air Clean and Win a Bike and A Thousand Dollars for Your School!

We all share the air, so what can we do to keep our air clean? Create a picture that shows simple steps that we can all take to help keep the Front Ranges’ air clean and you could win a new bike for yourself and $1,000 for your school.  Winning entries will be featured at Envirotest – Air Care Colorado stations along the Front Range, and you will have the chance to record a clean air message to be heard on Radio Disney this fall.

Envirotest - Air Care Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Regional Air Quality Council, the American Lung Association of Colorado and National Jewish Health have teamed up to launch the “Kids 4 Clean Air Colorado” poster contest. The contest will help kids learn about and teach their friends and family how they can all do their part to help keep the air clean and protect it for the future!

Kids here’s where we need your help, and where you can help your school!  Kids 4 Clean Air Colorado is holding a poster contest for all kids in first to eighth grade.  There will be four winners, one in each group, and these winners will receive a bicycle for themselves and a $1,000 grant for an environmental initiative at their school!  The poster themes are separated as follows:

1st to 2nd Grade: Put a Cap On Ozone –

​Broken or missing gas caps can allow up to 30 gallons of gasoline to evaporate per year.  These stinky fumes can create harmful ozone that can make your lungs burn.  Help demonstrate how we can put a cap on these gross ozone gasses and make our environment more fun outside!

3rd Grade to 4th Grade: Stop at the Click! –

​If you help out by filling the family car with gas, you might be tempted to put just a little extra in after the gas pump clicks off, or you might see your mom or dad do this.  Don’t.  It’s bad for the car and bad for the air.  Learn why you should not overfill a car’s gas tank and illustrate your ideas to remind people to Stop at the Click!

5th to 6th Grade: Engines Off! -

When your parents are waiting to pick you up from school or soccer practice, leaving their car running creates nasty pollution, as well as wastes their gas.  In order to help our environment and save your parents some money, teach them to turn off their car during long waiting periods.  Help show how we can demonstrate the benefits of turning your car off when going nowhere!

7th Grade to 8th Grade: Maintenance Matters –

​Keeping up with your car maintenance is not only important to keeping your car running, but also to protecting our air.  Encouraging your parents to keep their car maintained not only helps them get you to your games on time, but it also helps keep our air clean.  The pollution produced from not properly maintained cars is the leading cause to the brown cloud over Denver.  Your poster should help educate your parents on how to keep their car running great and keep our air and get the smog out of the air!

Show us your creativity by entering the Kids 4 Clean Air poster contest today.  Posters must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday, September 20, 2013.  Students may either send or bring their posters to the Envirotest – Air Care Colorado offices at 5175 Marshall St., Arvada, CO  80002, or at the Regional Air Quality Council located at 1445 Market St., Suite 260, Denver, CO 80202.

Winners will be chosen in late September and award presentations will be held in October.

Visit for rules and regulations, entry forms and more information on how to help keep our air clean. You can also follow Air Care Colorado on Twitter.

author: admin |


Defective Gas Caps Can Lead to Failed Emissions Test

The initial use of a gas cap was to keep dirt and water out of the fuel tank. However, as automobiles got more sophisticated, the function of the gas cap increased. Over time, it has become an emissions control device.

Gas_Cap.pngOne element of the Colorado vehicle emissions inspection is the Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) check. An automobile EVAP prevents vapor from the fuel system and gas tank from being released into the atmosphere. One reason for an emissions EVAP system failure is a defective/missing gas caps.

The Car Care Council states that, "A missing or leaking gas cap can allow up to 30 gallons of gasoline per year to evaporate into the atmosphere." Using today’s gas prices, a bad cap could cost you more than $100 a year. In addition, these escaping gas fumes, when combined with heat and sunlight, cause the type of harmful air pollution known as ground-level ozone.

Unlike the good, protective ozone layer in the stratosphere, ground level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that affects all of us. It’s formed when emissions from everyday items combine with other pollutants and “cook” in the heat and sunlight. Weather plays a key role in ozone formation. The highest ozone levels are usually recorded in summer months when temperatures approach the high 80s and 90s and the wind is stagnant of light.

Colorado Puts a Cap on Ozone

If you are due for a vehicle emissions test, here is a reminder to make sure your gas cap is in place and secured tightly to give you the best chance to prevent a failure. However, from July 1 through Aug. 31 , 2013, any vehicle that fails the Colorado emissions test due to a faulty or missing gas cap will be provided with a voucher good for a new cap redeemable at NAPA Auto Parts stores located throughout the Greater Denver area and the North Front Range.

All failed vehicles must be retested. Retesting is FREE if completed within 10 calendar days.

For more information on solving the ozone problem, call the Regional Air Quality Council at 303-629-5450, or visit

author: admin |


Bike to Work Day: June 26, 2013

Screen_shot_2013-06-20_at_8.41.04_AM.pngIt’s that time of year again. Time to pump up those tires and grab your helmet to join fellow Coloradans in Bike to Work Day on June 26, 2013. Bike to Work Day encourages biking as a choice for those who commonly drive to work. The overall goal of this free annual event is to introduce biking as a daily commuting option, promoting better personal health and wellness and decreasing damaging emissions to Mother Nature.

Colorado was recently rated the healthiest, fittest and one of the greenest states, so it’s not surprise that Bike to Work Day already has 10,000 participants registered. Biking to work is easier than ever, with Colorado’s numerous bicycle lanes, the B-Cycle bike sharing program and bike parking options, all to reduce traffic, improve air quality and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Here are three reasons you should Bike to Work June 26th (and all the time, really):

1. It saves you money.

Have you ever calculated how much money you spend on gas and vehicle maintenance per year? What about highway tolls and parking fees? Depending on where you live, you could save a lot of money by riding your bike from place to place. According to the National Household Transportation Survey, half of Americans live within five miles of their work. The average person could bike that in about 20 minutes. Ready to calculate how much you could save by biking to work? Try Kiplinger’s bike to work calculator.

2.  Better air quality.

Why does Mother Nature love bicycles? They are 100% emissions free! Motor vehicles, which contribute to air pollution, especially the pollutants that lead to harmful ground-level ozone, bicycles are completely eco-friendly. When driving short distances in a car, it takes the catalytic converter a while to kick in and clean up your emissions. Because of this, the first few miles of your drive are often the most polluting. For this reason, it makes sense to make short trips by bike in order to reduce the emissions that you are putting out into the air.

3. It’s good for you.

Biking burns calories and boosts energy, while getting you to where you need to go. Are you a runner? Biking puts less stress on your knees, ankles, and spine than either walking or running while giving you just as good of a workout. There is another healthy perk to riding your bike, like any aerobic exercise, biking helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s a win, win!

Air Care Colorado is proud to support Bike to Work Day! See you Wednesday June 26th on the bike path!

author: admin |


Environmentally Friendly Modes of Transportation to Utilize this Summer

Denver Skyline.pngSnow is melting away and as the weather becomes warmer, more opportunities to get around town emerge. If you are looking for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation to help you get to work, the grocery store, to school, wherever, we have ideas that are good for you, and the environment.

Use your feet

The simplest form of transportation, overlooked by many, is walking. Not only does a quick stroll aid in your health and well-being, you can cut air pollution caused by traffic. Walking yields in decreasing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease risks and reduces stress. If you have a little extra time to spare, walking just makes sense!

Two-wheel it

Biking is a great mode of transportation. Not only does it allow you to get to destinations quickly, you also receive the added bonus of an aerobic workout. Biking promotes well-being for the heart and muscles, increases coordination, mental health and immunity. Denver makes it easy to bike from place to place, with plentiful trails throughout the city and the B-Cycle program.

Ride Along with Some Company

Denver offers great public transit options, from the RTD bus system to the light rail.  On average, Americans that choose to travel via public transportation save around 865 million hours in travel time and close to 450 million gallons of fuel each year. With the absence of current public transportation systems, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.

Communities that choose to invest in public transit ultimately reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually, which is equivalent to New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver and Los Angeles combined ceasing to use electricity. A single commuter switching their commute to bus or light rail can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent.

The next time the sun is shining and the temperatures are on the rise, choose one of these environmentally friendly modes of transportation. They are good for you and Mother Earth!

author: admin |


Trip Linking

Enviromentalists call it “trip linking.”  You can call it “Savings.”

Most motorists don't realize that a single one-mile trip to the dry cleaners emits up to 70 percent as much pollution as a ten-mile excursion with several stops. If motorists cut their “cold starts” – starting a vehicle that has been sitting for an hour or more – many tons of pollutants could be removed from the air each day.  Just that simple change can make an enormous impact.  In fact, a study conducted in the San Francisco Bay area showed that if residents reduced their number of “cold starts” by 25 percent, they could remove up to 97 tons of pollutants from the air each day. What an achievement!

Even better, “trip linking” saves time, money and reduces air pollution – creating savings all around.

TripLinking Tips

Motor vehicles are one of the largest contributors to air pollution. An effective way for non-commuters to reduce automobile pollution is to "Trip-Link," or to combine several small car trips into one larger trip.

Non-commuters include parents taking their kids to school, seniors, shoppers, weekend travelers, church goers . . .in effect, everyone who drives. Commuters, too, add to the non-commuter problem when they leave their office by car during the day to run errands or go out to lunch.

If you must drive, you can reduce your vehicle’s emissions by minimizing "cold starts" and short/single-errand trips. A cold car, one that’s been sitting for an hour or more, pollutes up to five times more than a warm car. This is because the engine's air pollution control device, the catalytic converter, takes several minutes to warm up and work efficiently. By linking trips together and keeping your car engine warm, you can avoid cold starts.

Trip Linking is easy, and it will save you time and money.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Keep a running list of errands you need to do.
  • Give yourself enough time and plan ahead.
  • Think before you drive:
"Do I really need to make this trip?"
"How can I combine this errand with another trip I'll be making this week?"
  • Try to match items on your list that are located near each other. 

For example, if your child's school is located near your dry cleaner and post office, three trips could be linked together into one!

author: admin |


Don't Miss the Bus

The Denver area’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus service provides alternative transportation for those who do not have or do not wish to use a car. From everyday commutes to specialty rides, RTD has a variety of metro area schedules and routes Bus1.pngto take you where you need to go fast and hassle-free; 365 days a year. All buses are wheelchair accessible and have bike racks for your convenience.

You know that RTD can carry more people at one time than a single car or truck, reducing the number of automobiles discharging emissions into the air, but did you know RTD is taking notable measures to be the most sustainable mode of transportation in the country?

Not only does RTD use alternative fuels such as electric propulsion and low sulfur diesel fuel in conjunction with hybrid-electric engine technology, but they have been named the leaders in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories.

RTD’s engine technology is constantly evolving. The biodiesel bus engines lower exhaust emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The fleet of 16th Street mall buses operate on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and electric motors to further combat our carbon footprint. These buses can carry 116 people running on an engine that is comparable to the engine size of the Toyota Prius Hybrid; and they are free to use.

This public transportation is so efficient it produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide and 50 percent less carbon dioxide per passenger mile than private vehicles.

Think of the gas money RTD can help you save. Withdaily and monthly passes and ticket books, you can buy rides in bulk and do your part to keep the air clean.

There is one more great thing about Denver’s RTD – they actually “walk-the-walk” by being a truly an environmentally conscientious organization.  RTD’s vehicles aren’t the only part of their system that is conscious of the environment. The RTD facilities use energy reducing heating and lighting, and are creatively designed to be environmentally friendly. They also have recycle programs for oil, engine fluids, and tires along with their office supplies and equipment.

From the factory to the streets, RTD is functioning with the environment in mind.

So next time you jump in your car, think of all the ways RTD is providing to make it easier and more cost efficient to just simply catch the bus.

author: admin |


Tighten the Cap on Your Gas Budget

With gas prices over $3.00/gallon for the entire year, it’s hard not to cringe while filling up your tank. As everyone’s looking for ways to save, here are some tips on how to save gas so that your trips to the gas station are not quite as frequent.

Maintain your vehicle – Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines. By regularly checking the condition of your air filter, vacuum and coolant hoses, oil, oil filter, fluids, belts, tires, etc. you will ensure that your car gets the best possible fuel economy. To sign up for a chance to win $300 in vehicle maintenance, go to Maintenance Matters

Avoid idling – If you are going to be in one place for more than 60 seconds, consider turning off your engine. Despite popular belief, idling uses more gas than restarting the engine. Instead of letting your car “warm up” in the wintertime, pull on some gloves and a coat and start driving. Your car will warm up much faster when it’s in motion. Another suggestion is to bypass the drive-thru line and go inside. Often times, this is a quicker option anyway.

Use alternate forms of transportation – Whenever possible walk, ride your bike, take a bus, or carpool. Although at times it may seem like too much work or less convenient to leave your car behind, just think about the impact it can have on your wallet and your health. If you’re not familiar with public transportation in your area why don’t you spend a weekend exploring your town by bus? You may find things you’ve never seen before and you will become more comfortable taking public transportation at the same time.

Run all your errands at once – When running around town take a few minutes to plan your route out ahead of time. If it’s close enough to walk between places, park your car and go on foot. If you don’t particularly enjoy walking make it worth your while by stopping at a coffee shop or ice cream parlor along the way. This will not only save you gas, but loads of time!

Learn to be a fluid driver – sudden stops and starts put more strain on your gas tank as well as your vehicle as a whole. By gradually starting and trying your best to anticipate stops you will not only be a safer driver but save yourself money as well.

With some simple behavior changes, you can really make a difference on the amount of gas you consume and make a difference on your wallet.

author: admin |


Up in Smoke! Tailpipe Smoke Can Indicate a Need for Maintenance

At one time or another, we’ve all been driving behind a smoking vehicle, and we’re not talking about a Ferrari Testarossa. The kind we are talking about are the vehicles that have visible emissions coming out of the tailpipe. You close your windows and sunroof, you even close the vents, but you can still smell the fumes.

A gasoline-powered vehicle spewing smoke for more than five seconds is not only foul-smelling, it can also makes the air unhealthy to breathe. The color of the smoke can help pinpoint the source of the problem.

White Smoke: Possible diagnosis - anti-freeze may be burning in the piston cylinder. While this may not mean anything to you, a mechanic will find that this has happened because of a cracked head, blown gasket or cylinder block. (Don’t be confused by the visible vapor that vehicles exhaust when cold-started in cold weather. Visible vapor is water and will disappear after a few seconds; smoke, on the other hand, doesn’t dissipate as quickly and leaves both a foul smell and haze.)

Blue/Gray Smoke: Possible diagnosis - Blue smoke, which is a rare and very odd sight to see, is caused by the burning of oil in the combustion chamber. Normal causes of this are weak piston rings, bad valve guides, bad valve seals or plugged up engines usually due to a lack of oil changes.

Black/Gray Smoke: The most common kind. Possible diagnosis - Thick black smoke usually means that there is too much fuel and not enough air in the combustion chamber. In rare cases, this can be caused by weak fuel pressure causing fuel to 'drip' from injectors rather than 'spray'.

The answer to eliminating the smoking vehicle is to keep up with the recommended maintenance of your vehicle to help reduce the emissions of harmful air pollutants. In addition, keeping your vehicle in good repair results in improved engine life, lower fuel and overall maintenance costs. A well maintained vehicle should not emit visible exhaust.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is offering $300 in vehicle maintenance for people that ‘like’ their promotional announcement on their Facebook page. This is a chance for you to save some money on maintenance and/or repairs, and help the environment with one easy click.

If you do see a smoking vehicle, Rest assured, there is an action you can take; the State of Colorado has a Smoking Vehicle Hotline for motorists to report smoking vehicles either on line or by telephone at (303) 692-3211.

author: admin |


4 simple steps you can take to reduce your automobile emissions

Living inColorado, we are able to enjoy the great outdoors. We like to take a hike, ride a bike and even climb to a peak called Pike. To be able to enjoy being outside, we cannot take for granted the air quality that we breathe.

Whether you are concerned about the environment or just want to be able to enjoy outdoor activities, one of the tangible things you can do to improve air quality is to reduce your vehicle emissions. Here are four things you can do TODAY to reduce your auto emissions.

Reduce the amount of time you are in your vehicle. If you are running an errand, why not consider actually running. Alternatively, you could ride a bicycle, join a carpool or become an RTD expert using public transportation. Since our automobiles are a major source of pollution, removing vehicles from the road will have the greatest impact on air quality.

Plan your route. If you are driving, take a little extra time before you begin and plan the shortest route possible to efficiently complete your task. Most people are on auto-pilot when it comes to their daily travel routine, however with a little effort you can reduce the amount of money you spend on gas while saving the environment. Remember – no backtracking!
Keep your vehicle is good operating condition by doing routine maintenance. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 7,500 miles in passenger car under ideal driving conditions. How many of us really drive under ideal conditions? For maximum protection, most oil companies say to change the oil every 3,000 miles or three to six months regardless of what type of driving you do.
Reduce the amount of time your car idles. An idling car is terrible for emissions. There are some simple fixes: avoiding drive-thru lanes, avoiding travel during rush hour and if you are idling for more than a minute – consider turning off your engine.  Common sense tells us that we don’t need to turn off the engine at a red light, but 60 seconds of idling is a good rule of thumb to consider turning off the engine.

There are many more ways to reduce your auto emissions ranging from buying fuel-efficient cars, to alternative energy vehicles, to simple gasoline additives. Whatever you decide to do, know that making small changes in how you control your automobile usage has direct effect on our air quality and can also save you money at the pump.

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