I think it's safe to say that most of us have warmed our vehicles up during the winter months without being in it and not given it a second thought. Did you know that technically you're breaking the law in Illinois, but that includes a very big "but".

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This topic has come up yet again as Reader's Digest recently updated their article about whether car idling is illegal. In Illinois, the short answer is yes it is against the law. However, it is complicated.

What's the harm in idling your car or truck without you in it?

I had guessed that any laws or city ordinances trying to convince people to not warm up their vehicles during the winter months that it was due to increased chance of thefts, but that's not accurate. The Reader's Digest article says that most laws were passed because it's harmful for the environment. It also claims that warming up a vehicle doesn't help prolong its life and can actually be harmful. I'm no mechanic so I'll have to take their word for it.

So what about the "but"?

The exception at least in most states is remote start that does not involve the key being in the vehicle. I'm not a lawyer so don't rely on my "expertise" (or lack thereof). It's just my understanding based on online research I've done into what is allowable.

The other big caveat is the enforcement of these "don't idle your car up" laws. I'm sure it happens, but I really can't imagine law enforcement worrying too much about someone warming a vehicle up in their driveway if they decide it's what they think is best. Again, I'm not a lawyer or giving advice. It's just me wondering out loud.

Best plan would be to check out the original Reader's Digest article and do your own research if you're legitimately concerned about going to jail because of a technicality.

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