We're all used to warming our cars on cold winter mornings, but is it legal?

Winter is here in New Jersey.  Thankfully, it's been a warmer winter than in years past, but you know cold weather could come in at any moment.  Remember when we had 20 degree weather this past Christmas?

Commuting is never any fun, but it's especially not fun during the cold New Jersey winters.  Windows get icy and need to be defrosted.  Sometimes snow needs to be brushed off your car before driving it, or you need to dig your car out of a snowy spot.


But worst of all, is getting into a cold car.  There are some days where you can't escape the frigid temperatures, no matter how many layers of clothing you've put on.  Cars can take a long time to heat up, leaving you freezing for the first part of your commute.  It's not a good way to start off your morning.


Remote car starters seemed like a gift from the gods - especially in a place like New Jersey.  Lots of us love being able to start your car from your warm home five minutes before you head out with just a click of a button.

There's always a catch to everything.


Is warming up your car illegal in New Jersey?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, per NJ.gov, warming up your car is illegal in New Jersey.  In order to start your car, your engine obviously needs to be running, which is technically idling.  Idling isn't good for the environment, therefore it's illegal.

You're only allowed to idle for three minutes before violating the law.  The law is enforced when someone reports idling to the DEP.  It could cost you $250 for the first offense, and $1000 for every subsequent offense.


However, there are some exceptions according to NJ.gov.  You may idle for more than three minutes:

  • If it's colder than 25 degrees Fahrenheit - then, you may idle up to 15 minutes.
  • While stuck in traffic or on a congested road.

All of the exceptions and rules are listed at NJ.gov.

You might be thinking: "but you should warm up your car before driving it on winter days, because it's better for the engine."  According to Consumer Reports, you're not wrong, however, you only need to let the car run for a minute, which is within NJ's idling laws.

The takeaway here - warm up your car at your own risk.

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