It’s the age-old myth; you need to let your car idle before driving off in cold weather. But should you warm up your car in the winter, really?
The simple answer is no. Assuming your car is less than 20 years old, there is no reason to let your car idle in the winter; in fact, doing so causes more harm than good.
There is just one benefit to warming up your car in the winter – it’s warm when you get in. Outside of your coziness, nothing positive comes from running your car before leaving your garage.
Here are the risks:
Idling hurts the car. Idling forces the car to run in an incredibly inefficient mode. Cars are designed to move (even in freezing temperatures), not sit still.
Warming up your car costs money. Allowing your car to run when you aren’t driving it is a waste of gas, and will cost you at the pump (which you’ll be visiting more often). After ten seconds of idling, it’s more efficient to turn your car off and restart it instead of allowing it to run, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Letting your car run in a garage is dangerous. The carbon monoxide emitted when your car runs can build up in an enclosed space, proving fatal for people who breathe it in.
Idling is bad for the environment (and you). Allowing your car to idle sends unnecessary gases into the environment. The exhaust emitted from vehicles have also proven to be hazardous to human health, with links to asthma and allergies, cancer, and heart and lung disease.
It’s faster to just drive the car. Once you get on the road, it only takes minutes for the engine to heat up and circulate warm air through the car. Compare that to the 15 or 20 minutes it takes for an idling car to warm up, and it’s clear that you can save yourself some serious time.