Idling your car- it’s not ideal


It is cold outside. And dark. And you really don’t want to go to work.

I know how you feel.

How do you get over the winter morning blues? For most Americans the antidote involves a large cup of coffee and a toasty-warm pre-heated car.

But how much is that pre-heating costing you, not to mention the environment?

Every two minutes an idling car uses about the same amount of fuel to travel a mile. So for every two minutes you spend waiting for your car to warm up before you get in you are effectively adding an extra mile of gas onto your daily bill.  And worse, it puts a lot of additional wear and tear on your engine, beyond what the odometer says.

But don’t engines need that time to warm up in the morning?

Maybe in Grandma’s day, but modern engines need no longer than about 30 seconds to warm up in most climates. If you live somewhere really cold, it makes more sense to invest in an engine bloc heater than to leave your car idling in the mornings.

So what is a cold, disheartened, winter-morning-hater to do? Suck it up. Leave your hat, scarf and gloves on for the first few miles. It’s not so bad and it makes the coffee taste better.

While we’re on the topic of vehicles I’ll add this warning: Never idle a vehicle in your garage, even if the door to the outside is open. The exhaust fumes can leak into your home and cause a significant risk of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning to you and your family.


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