Is It Illegal To Warm Up Your Car In Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota?

Now that December is well underway, people in the Midwest are officially getting into winter mode. The temperatures are dropping, and some parts of our neck of the woods even saw a bit of snow!

That remote start that you finally got hooked up is coming in pretty handy right about now, right?

Well, in some states (including some in the Midwest) it's been deemed it illegal to warm up your car with you not directly being inside of the vehicle.

Is that the case in the Hawkeye State?

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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

So, warming up your car while you are not even in the car is illegal in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. However, Wisconsin and Iowa are nowhere on the list.

The word cold written in frost on a car

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.

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