Winter Driving Tips: Don't Idle That Car for Too Long

Jan 02, 2015 07:00 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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To idle your car or not to idle your car--that's the question for driving in winter.

Letting your vehicle sit for a long time before driving hurts the modern engine and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, but idling for a minute or two is OK.

"It's a good idea to warm it up a few minutes in the cold weather. You want the engine to reach normal temperature ... if the car is cold, it burns more fuel and may not run as well," Frank Bozos, president of Astoria Auto Repair in Queens, N.Y., told AutoWorldNews. "The fuel system runs richer, in other words. It also gives oil a chance to circulate the engine. Typically, a warm engine runs better than a cold engine."

Bottom line, idling the car for "at least a minute or so" is advisable, but newer cars with fuel-injected engines don't need to sit for long before driving, Bozos said.

And don't forget that in the dead of winter, turning on the car is essential to getting ice off a windshield in a way that won't damage the vehicle. 

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