You may want to think twice before warming up your car for extended periods of time during this winter's deep-freeze.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/1/2015 (2739 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

You may want to think twice before warming up your car for extended periods of time during this winter's deep-freeze.

It's become second nature to many. We run out to the car still in our pyjamas or, if we're lucky, we press a button on our key fob that magically starts the car while we remain in bed.

A warm car on a -40 C morning is a godsend, but your car may not be feeling the same way.

'There is risk involved with idling your vehicle and we strongly discourage doing so if these two key areas cannot be met'

"It adds to wear and tear on the vehicle, and it also can just be a waste of money," said John Correia, mechanic at Super Lube on Regent Avenue. "Ideally, 30 seconds to one minute is enough time to get the oil where it needs to be."

That oil starts in the oil pan at the bottom of the motor, said Correia. When the car is started, a pump at the bottom of the oil pan starts going and distributes the oil to valves, cams, etc.

Angele Young, spokeswoman for CAA Manitoba, says idling the car only benefits your creature comforts. With today's fuel-injected vehicles, the myth of having to idle for significant periods of time is a thought of yesteryear.

"Gone are the days of idling a vehicle because you need to," she said. "Anything more than 30 seconds to one minute is really just for the driver. Driving the car warms it up quicker than idling it for extended periods of time."

Correia said motorists should double-check they have a functioning block heater, which keeps the engine and the coolant warm.

"It's something you want to check on a regular basis," he said. He also says motorists should be looking into synthetic oil, explaining the oil is thinner and therefore easier to distribute, ensuring better, more reliable starts.

Idling, meanwhile, can hit more than your maintenance budget.

The Winnipeg Police Service has seen a sharp decline in car thefts over the past 10 years, but still warns leaving a car idling can present an opportunity for thieves.

"We have two key areas that we look at in regards to this," said Const. Robert Carver, WPS spokesman. "The first: Is the car lockable? If not, theft can become an issue. The second: Will the car disengage if someone tries to drive it away?

"There is risk involved with idling your vehicle and we strongly discourage doing so if these two key areas cannot be met."

Manitoba Public Insurance sees more than 100 vehicles stolen yearly in Manitoba due to keys being left in the ignition or within the passenger compartment. An estimated 80 per cent of those thefts occur in Winnipeg.

"Vehicle theft in this manner is a crime of opportunity. It's basically a 'take me' sign when the keys are in the ignition of an unmanned vehicle," said Brian Smiley, spokesman for MPI. "It's inconvenient, if stolen, to the owner, whose car may have damage or be written off."

MPI says it will provide coverage for vehicles stolen due to idling.

"While we don't punish people for making unwise decisions, we absolutely discourage people from idling their vehicles with the keys in the ignition," Smiley said.

sbilleck@freepress.mb.ca