Leaving a car idle to warm up could cause damage, cost more money

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Letting a car run for several minutes in order to warm up may not be good for the vehicle.

When winter hits, warming up a car prior to driving is not a luxury, but rather, it’s a necessity for many.

“I always start my car for a few minutes before I leave,” Camaryn Walsh said.

Walsh is like most. She starts her car a few minutes early, and it’s warm by the time she gets in. But is that a good idea?

Ensign Auto Body owner Robert Ensign said it depends.

“I wouldn’t personally leave my car running for more than two or three minutes before I drive it,” he said.

Ensign has been in business for over 20 years. He said letting the car run for a minute before driving is fine, but letting it run for too long is not.

“The engine isn’t its most efficient at idle,” he explained.

To prove his point, Ensign showed an oil pump to NEWS10 ABC. He explained that everything in a car is designed to work together.

When the car sits still while running, the parts aren’t able to do that.

“Things tend to warm up more and quicker when you use it,” he said.

Letting a car sit longer than few minutes could cause internal damage.

“Over years things will wear out much faster,” Ensign said.

In addition, when a car sits in an idle state, it uses more gas, which will cost the driver more money.

“It’s a good practice to let your car run for 25, 30 seconds,” Ensign said.

Leaving a car running while unattended is illegal in New York State if you leave the key in the ignition. A car is allowed to run if it has a remote starter.

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