Winter is upon us, and with the cold and snow comes other winter woes like shoveling, scraping, salting, and of course, warming up your car.

But *how* you warm up your car is the big question!.

Do you sit in your car while it warms up? Use a remote start to have the car warm itself up? Or turn your car on then leave for a few minutes while it warms up? 

One of those methods is illegal in Illinois, with many people essentially breaking the law on a daily basis.

The bottom line is you cannot start your car and let it idle unattended with the key in the ignition according to a 2017 Illinois law.

Here is the exact wording of the law: ” “No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any perceptible grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway. An unattended motor vehicle shall not include an unattended locked motor vehicle with the engine running after being started by a remote starter system.”

Violators of the law could face fines up to $100 or more.

There are a few exceptions such as law enforcement officers or those operating an emergency vehicle while on duty.

Cars and trucks equipped with remote-start systems are also exempt because the vehicles can’t be driven unless the key is in the ignition or there’s a key fob.

Keyless entry vehicles are also okay because the car will shut off if someone puts their foot on the brake and the key fob is not in the vehicle or ignition.

A remote start kit, also called a remote car starter, is a system that allows you to start your vehicle from a distance using a remote fob or smartphone app. In addition to starting the engine, the systems can also interact with your vehicles climate control and warm the cabin and seats during the winter and cool it in the summer.

If your vehicle doesn’t have a remote start you can purchase them from an auto-parts or electronics store as well as online, but unless you’re an automotive electrician or familiar with car wiring it’s not recommended that you install it yourself.

Noman Beg, owner of BG Motorcars in Naperville.

“Adding a remote start on a car is not difficult but it has to be done by a professional installer and cost would run anywhere from $300-$500,” he said.

Now if a remote start is not in your budget right now, and you don’t want to sit and wait for your car to warm up, is it okay to drive-off without warming it up?

Beg says it won’t hurt your car but “It’s actually better for the car when it’s warmed up.”

Having all components work properly including wipers and all windows cleared and able to see out of them is a proper way of safely driving a vehicle,” he said.