One of the best feelings in the world is hopping in your warm car on a cold day. In some states this little bit of joy is actually illegal.

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With the temperatures expected to take another cold turn this week, many of us are already planning ahead. Whether it be which coat you're going to grab on your way out the door, or what hot drink you'll bring with you on your drive to work; we have to prepare to deal with cold temperatures in our own way.

For some of us, that might include going out to the car a few minutes earlier to warm up before hitting the road.

A cold car in a winter morning. Has anybody tried to steal it?

32 of the 50 states have laws regarding "idling" or specifically have "anti-idling" laws. The official definition for car idling is "running a vehicle's engine when the vehicle is not in motion."

No, the government doesn't want you to freeze your buns off. The purpose of this rule is actually to prevent air pollution, deter car thieves, and extend the life of your car, according to Reader's Digest.

Apparently, continued idling overtime “does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it decreases it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons."

Here are the states where it's illegal to leave your car idling:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia


The word cold written in frost on a car

As you can see, Iowa is nowhere on this list.

After some deep research, I found out that it used to be illegal to leave your car on unattended if the engine was turned on. If the engine was on someone had to be in the car, but if you leave it unattended then you better have turned the car all the way off.

Having this law in place was meant to halt preemptive car thefts. Back in 2017, many people were concerned about this rule and thought it was unfair. It got overturned in March of that year. This came to a 49-0 decision in the Iowa State Senate which essentially put an end to this nearly one-hundred-year-old law. If you did break this law you would be punished with a $20 fine.

However, it didn't apply to cars or other vehicles on private property.

Again, it is not illegal to do this anymore! I don't want to hear about anyone freezing their rear ends off after reading this. You can turn your engine on and let the car warm up even if you're not inside of the vehicle. Remote-start sure is a lifesaver.

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