Letting car idle in cold weather could be illegal

  • Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
12:55 p.m Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 Austin360 Home

As temperatures dip across the country, you may want to check your state laws to find out if it is illegal to start your car and let it warm-up.

Several states, including Ohio, Texas and Georgia, have laws on the books that prohibit drivers from letting cars idle in a driveway or on a street, WYFF reported.

Law enforcement agencies and insurance companies have been warning drivers for nearly a decade that allowing cars to warm up, unattended, idling outside, as drivers wait inside, is an invitation for thieves to take the vehicles.

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If your car is stolen while you let it warm up, whether it would be covered by your insurance, depends on the company and your policy

If you want to warm the car, legally, while staying warm yourself, one community in Colorado suggests investing in a remote starter. That way, the keys stay safely with you and the car remains locked but running.

How can you find out if idling vehicles are illegal in your state? You can start by checking with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The laws differ by state, and even by municipality. There are laws in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for example, that say how long a certain types of vehicles can idle and at what temperature.

Even if it is legal to warm up your car, do you really need to let the car run before heading out on the road?
Mechanics say no.

The idea of letting a car warm up comes from old engines that had carburetors. Now, most vehicles don’t have the part that mixes gas and air to make vaporized fuel. Instead, the majority of vehicles built after the 1980s have fuel injection, Business Insider reported.

Experts said that idling a car wastes fuel and wears on the engine.