There are two reasons why people idle their vehicles during the winter here in Minnesota. Some people think you need to let the engine warm-up before driving during the cold winter months to prevent any damage. The other reason people idle their vehicle is to make their commute a little more bearable by making the car’s interior warmer.

One of these reasons is completely unnecessary and the other could get you a ticket if done wrong. Find out exactly how long you need to warm up your vehicle before driving it and the correct way to idle your car to avoid a fine below.

Do I Need To Warm Up My Car Before Driving In The Winter?

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says you don't unless you're driving a vintage vehicle: “Older cars, with carburetors, did need to warm up. Without warming up, the carburetor didn't get the right mix of air and fuel in the engine — and the car could stall. But in the 1990s, car makers moved from carburetors to electronic fuel injection. Fuel injection sensors supply the engine with just the right blend of fuel and air, preventing stalling in cold weather.”

Triple-A says you only need to let your vehicle idle for the time it takes you to fasten your seat belt.

Is It Illegal to Idle Your Vehicle in Minnesota?

Yes and no.

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Appleman Law Services in St Louis Park explains that Minnesota law says, "it is illegal to leave the car unattended and running with the keys in the ignition." If you're wondering, vehicles with remote starts are fine because there isn't a key in the ignition.

Rochester's City Ordinance 11-6-9 makes it illegal to park a passenger vehicle on a street or alley with the vehicle running unattended.  The ordinance notes that drivers shall lock the ignition, remove the key and take the key with them.

And, warming up your car isn't illegal if you are parked in a private parking lot or driveway, but your insurance company might not cover the loss if your car is stolen.

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