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7 ON YOUR SIDE clears up misconceptions about heating up your car

7 ON YOUR SIDE clears up misconceptions about heating up your car (ABC7)

The car heater. What would we do without it on sub-freezing days?

Chances are though you aren't using it right.

"That's what heats your car. All the hot coolant from the engine," Fritz Wiant said.

Wiant works for Shirlington Shell. He said there are many misconceptions about heating your car on a bone-chilling day.

“Turning it to the max isn't necessarily going to help. All it's going to do is blow cold air through the vehicle," Wiant explained.

Whether it’s set at 70 or 90 degrees the air will heat at the same speed.

Also, make sure you turn off the air recirculation feature.

"Until you have warm air all that's doing is pushing the cold air around in the car, so wait until that air is warm."

If you get inside your vehicle and your windows start to fog;

“Turn on your A/C button. Even though it’s cold outside the A/C is actually removing moisture from that warm air. It won't cool down your car.

Don't forget about your passengers in the back either

"You might feel toasty warm, but they still need the heat on to blow to the back."

And the biggest misconception of all.

“Most of these modern vehicles warm up right away,” Wiant added. “The engine gets going right off the bat, so you don't need to idle your car. As a matter of fact, it's counterproductive. It's less fuel efficient. You're just burning gas.”\

7 ON YOUR SIDE looked it up—leaving your car unattended and idling could cost you big time.

Here’s what we found out:

In D.C., gas and diesel vehicles are limited to three minutes of idling time. If the temperature is below freezing, you'll get up to five minutes. Break the law and you could be fined $1,000.

In Maryland, the limit is five minutes and the fine is $500.

“I had someone, a roommate, who left his car idling for half an hour 20 minutes,” said Marko Lepusic.

That’s the last thing Arlington County Police want anyone to do. Virginia doesn’t have an idling law for personal vehicles, but police still want you to think twice before you leave your car running.

“If you are idling your car unattended that’s inviting a thief in. They see that tailpipe running and they don’t see anyone in that car it gives them the opportunity to get in that car in drive away,” explained Ashley Savage with ACPD.

Virginia has set a 10 minute rule for idling the engine of a bus left unattended. The fine is not to exceed $50.

However, there are exceptions in D.C., Md., and Va., if a vehicle is forced to stop because of traffic or a mechanical problem. Also, these laws only apply to unattended vehicles.

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