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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 31, 2014, 09:33 PM

Warming your car up for longer than 5 minutes may cost you more than you realize

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's been a cold winter. Much of the time we've spent outside has been rushing from the house to the car, and vice versa and when we get in that car, we want it to be warm but how much does that extra comfort cost?

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's been a cold winter. Much of the time we've spent outside has been rushing from the house to the car, and vice versa and when we get in that car, we want it to be warm but how much does that extra comfort cost?

It's frustrating to get into a cold car that seems to finally warm up right when you reach your destination.

But we did a little research, and a little math and you might be surprised at how much pre-heating the car costs - for some, it could be another tank of gas each month.

Whether it's by auto-start or running out to the car before heading to work, many of us warm up the car before taking off.

Adam Holscher says five to ten minutes usually does the trick.

Adam Holscher: "I don't think it's good to just run the cold engine… but it's also for comfort, creature comfort."

But all that idling adds up - fast.

Matthew Lachowitzer, owner at Matt's Automotive estimates that for every two minutes you let your car idle, it burns the same amount as driving one mile on the highway.

The auto-starts they install run up to 18 minutes.

Matthew Lachowitzer/Matt’s Automotive Owner: "On a full 18-minute run time, that's like driving nine miles. So, if you get 18 miles to the gallon, you just used half a gallon of gas letting your car warm up."

AAA says a basic rule of thumb is that you burn about a quarter of a gallon of gas for every 15 minutes you leave it running.

Going by that, if you ran your car 15 minutes before going to work and again leaving wok you would use two and a half gallons in a five-day week.

At today's gas price of $3.09 - that's $7.75 or $31 per month, NOT counting weekends.

But that doesn't mean you should leave yourself out in the cold.

Lachowitzer says cut costs by planning your trips, and keeping your car running as efficiently as possible.

Lachowitzer: "Make sure you get it tuned up.">

Lachowitzer also says when it's below zero like it has been so often this winter; it IS a good idea to let the car run for about five minutes to make sure everything goes smoothly.

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