Own a Car? There’s a Good Chance You Just Broke the Law

December 21st, 2016 by

hand cuffs

There is no better feeling than waking up on a frigid winter morning in Colorado, remote starting your car engine, and slipping inside of a warm cabin 5-10 minutes later. The heated leather seats, the melted sheet of ice that otherwise would have been obstructing your view, and the welcoming warmth that a pre-heated car offers Colorado residents is simply divine – or is it? A common practice throughout the colder regions of the United States, more people start their engines in an attempt to warm up their vehicles prior to use, than ever before. Thanks in part to both factory-installed remote start systems, as well as Jeep dealerships providing this convenient amenity to new car buyers, it is more common to find a new vehicle with a remote start, than it is to find one without. With so many automotive manufacturers adding remote start systems to their lists of standard equipment, drivers, such as yourself, might be shocked to find out that warming up your car is both detrimental to your vehicle’s health, and illegal.

Stop Warming Up Your Car! Here’s Why

With the average remote starter on a new car set to idle for twelve minutes before switching the engine back off, car owners on average are warming up their vehicles for anywhere between five and ten minutes. Before I get too far into why you shouldn’t warm up your car, I have somewhat of a confession to make. After owning my SUV for five years, I had a remote start system installed. Second part of that confession? I use it religiously. That is, until I heard how damaging it is to my vehicle’s overall health.

Back when vehicles used carburetors, idling the engine to get it up to operating temperature was necessary for proper vehicle function. Car engines are no longer made with carburetors, but utilize a fuel-injection system to get the engine up and running. Modern day cars, trucks, and SUVs are able to adjust seamlessly from having been off, to turning on in sub-zero temps. In fact, the quickest way to warm up your vehicle isn’t by letting it idle in your open garage, but rather by driving it. By allowing your engine to run idle while in park, you are creating an environment that is perfect for engine oil dilution to take place. The longer an engine sits idling, the more likely raw gas will make its way into the oil chamber, breaking down the lubricating properties necessary for proper oil function. The end result in layman’s terms? It adds wear and tear to your vehicle’s engine and other important components that are needed for proper functioning. Piston rings, cylinder liners, and other engine parts will experience a shorter lifespan than they would if the vehicle was not warmed up ahead of driving time.

Most drivers nowadays don’t warm up their cars in order to prime the engine for proper functionality, but rather so that they can be comfortable as soon as they get behind the wheel. Stepping into a cold car in the middle of a Colorado winter can be extreme, but if you value the health and longevity of your vehicle’s engine, you will likely be just fine skipping over this potentially damaging step in your daily routine.

Did We Mention It’s Also Illegal?

If premature engine failure is not enough to sway your resolve to drive to work in a warm car every morning, maybe this will: In most states, including Colorado, idling your vehicle is illegal. While you won’t be serving any hard time for warming up your car this winter, if Johnny Law does catch up to you, you can expect a hefty fine and a misdemeanor added to your public record. Let’s be honest, most of us break the law everyday while behind the wheel. Whether your vice is exceeding the posted speed limit, slipping past a stop sign without coming a full and complete stop, or squeaking past that barely red light on your way into the office – the truth is every person with a driver’s license has broken at least one law in their lifetime. The EPA regulations in Colorado, regarding idling your car fall into the same crime-category as speeding and rolling through a stop sign. Others, however, take it more seriously.

As outlined on the EPA website, Colorado residents are to limit idling their cars to five minutes at a time, and not unless the outside ambient temperature reads twenty degrees or less for the previous twenty-four-hour period. Here in Colorado, it can be a balmy 50 degrees one day, and a blistering 17 degrees the next. According to federal and state law, an idling car would be illegal on the colder day, if followed by the warmer one. If you think that is strict, take a look at Winter Park town code regulations, regarding warming up your car. Section 4-3-5 A says, “The unreasonable and prolonged idling of motors of any motor vehicle of any kind whatsoever is hereby declared a nuisance and public safety and health hazard.” If that seems over the top to you, wait until you hear the penalty for committing such a heinous crime. The same Winter Park Town Code goes on to outline the consequences involved with ignoring this strict law, stating that, “Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be fined in an amount not to exceed three hundred dollars ($300.00) or imprisoned for a term not to exceed ninety (90) days, or both, for each offense.”

Are you surprised by the strong stance local and nationwide government has taken on idling vehicles here in Colorado? These laws have been around since 2003, and are likely to be revised in the next year or two. Whether they will become more stringent, or less, is entirely unknown. All I can say is I sure am glad I don’t reside in Winter Park.

Take Care of Your Car with Help From The Faricy Boys

If you are as guilty as I am when it comes to warming up your vehicle and want to have it checked, bring it to The Faricy Boys. Our expert service department will make sure no long term damage has been done, and will give you more tips on how to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. Whether you decide to follow the idling laws here in Colorado, or go rogue – be sure to stay on top of regular maintenance to keep your car running for longer.