Is It Legal To Warm Up Your Car In Iowa?

We've officially nearing the hellscape that is winter in Iowa. There are quite a few things that you need to remember!

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The cold and the snow turn into major obstacles for us in going about our daily routine. We've recently been trying to help you figure out what sort of cold weather hacks might actually be frowned upon.

We dove into whether or not you can drive your car before wiping snow off. You can read more about that here.

Another thing (that is far less dangerous) that we do before we hit the road is warming up our cars. Sometimes with babies or young children, the best course of action might be going out to the car a few minutes earlier and starting it up.

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."

Why Is This Even A Law?!?

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."


States Where It's Illegal

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

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

Unsplash - Lobo Hamburg
Unsplash - Lobo Hamburg

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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