Those who live in colder climates know how unpleasant it can be to hop in a cold car in the morning: Your hands get chilly on the ice-cold steering wheel, your nose starts to chill, and your bum is freezing on the cold winter seat. It’s tempting to run outside and start the ignition to let you car warm up for a few minutes while you gather the rest of your belongings—and even more appealing if you have a newer car with a remote starter to use it. As tempting as it to get your car warm and toasty ahead of time, doing so could get you in hot water with the law. Not only that, you could be damaging your engine in the process. Read up on these winter car care tips to make your car last the season.
No, your lawmakers don’t want you to freeze in your car in the morning. Anti-idling laws exist with a much bigger purpose in mind: to prevent air pollution. Penalties and exact anti-idling measures depend on the state and even city or county you reside in, with punishments ranging from fines to written warnings. According to the EPA, more than two dozen states and many cities and local counties have laws that limit the amount of time that a vehicle can idle. A complete guide to idling measures in your state can be found at the American Transportation Research Institute.
States with anti-idling laws include:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Not only is idling potentially harmful to the environment, but it could also lead to mechanical problems. No one enjoys sitting in a cold car, but Popular Mechanics advises that the process of warming up your car “does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it decreases it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons.”
So there you have it: There’s no benefit to warming up any modern day car model. If you still insist on warming it up though, it should be for no more than 30 seconds since the engine warms faster when you’re actually driving the car.