Texas Law: Warming Your Car Up in the Cold is Actually Illegal
Although it's been a mild winter overall, overnight and morning temperatures have been dipping down to the 30s and low 40s on a regular basis.
Those chilly mornings might tempt some to warm up the car before driving away. But if you have a habit of leaving it unattended in the driveway you might want to think twice about continuing that practice.
Leaving Your Car Running Is a Crime
Like many people of a certain age, I was taught to warm up your car engine on a cold morning before driving off. Come to find out, doing so is a crime and could result in a citation.
Okay, I'm being a bit over-dramatic when I state that it's a crime. Yes, it's illegal, but it's only against the law if you start your car and leave it unattended. Per the Texas Transportation Code:
An operator may not leave a vehicle unattended without: (1) stopping the engine; (2) locking the ignition; (3) removing the key from the ignition; (4) setting the parking brake effectively; and (5) if standing on a grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.
Getting caught with an unattended vehicle that is running no matter the season or the reason is a Class C Misdemeanor that could result in a fine of up to $500 dollars.
There Is One Exception
The main purpose of the law is to prevent auto theft as an unattended and unlocked running vehicle is an easy target for opportunistic bad hombres. However, you're all good if your vehicle uses some sort of push-button, keyless-entry start up system and you are in possession of the key FOB that allows mobile entry.
Should I Leaving My Car Running On a Cold Morning?
As for the to-warm-up-or-not-warm-up debate, unless you’re rolling in a late model Chevy, mechanics say there's no need to in this modern era of fuel injection and on-board computers. The old timey thinking that you should let your car idle in the cold is only true for carburetor engines.