WASHINGTON — The arctic cold temperatures and the wintry mix of snow this season tempts many drivers to idle their vehicles before driving but, AAA Mid-Atlantic claims this dated activity can do more harm than good.
Idling a vehicle wastes between a quarter to a half of gallon an hour and can reduce your car’s lifetime, according to the AAA Car Care Centers.
“If you must, the best way to warm a modern engine is to start it and allow it to idle for 15 to 30 seconds while you fasten your seatbelt and check the mirror,” said AAA Car Care Centers Regional Manager James Spires. “A little longer idle time may be appropriate in the winter if you need to clear snow and ice from the windshield and other parts of the car. ”
Across the D.C. Metro region, jurisdictions have established laws on regulating idling vehicles.
In Maryland, it is against the law to idle a vehicle for longer than five consecutive minutes. In Virginia, commercial vehicles cannot idle a vehicle longer than three minutes while parked or stopped in public areas. In Washington, D.C., public vehicles for hire and commercial vehicles are not allowed to idle for more than three minutes. If it is below 32 degrees, vehicles are permitted to idle up to 10 minutes. The first offense’s civil fine is $1,000.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says “idling does surprisingly little to warm the actual engine.”
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