Warming Up Your Car May Not Be Worth It

Idling your car for too long in Connecticut is against the law and you’d be surprised to hear it’s actually enforced.

Many people living in New England let their car heat up, or idle, for about 15 minutes, but it turns out that’s totally unnecessary.

You get in your car, start the engine and the waiting game begins. Sitting in a cold car waiting for it to warm up has become a part of our daily routine, like it or not.

“How long do I heat it up for? 15 20 minutes,” Tito Rivera of West Hartford said.

“Three minutes is my limit that’s what my husband says,” Nazy Kesbar of West Hartford said.

In fact, the law says you can't idle your car for longer than three minutes.

If you spend five minutes twice a day doing just that, for an entire month, you’ve wasted five hours idling in the cold.

Time isn’t the only thing you’ve wasted either. A typical car wastes one fifth a gallon of gasoline per hour, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, not to mention the pollution your car is emitting.

“Trucks, cars and buses contribute to Connecticut about 40-percent of the carbon dioxide emissions and 75-percent of nitrogen oxides,” Walter Barozi, Environmental Analyst of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said.

Mechanics say heating up your car for any longer than one minute is a total waste unless your car was made in the 1980s.

“The old cars had carburetors, vacuum controlled diaphragms, which used the ambient temperature of the air and the temperature of the engine to get it to run right and if it wasn’t warmed up the air fuel mixture wasn’t right, the car would basically stall,” said Joseph Rosetti, manager of Eastern Transmission.

Newer cars rely on sensors and computers to operate the vehicle. Both mechanics and the DEEP say your car warms up faster by driving it cold instead of letting it run.

DEEP says enforcement officers target specific areas like rest stops and school zones to remind people not to idle for any longer than that the three-minute limit allowed by law.

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