The nitty gritty on letting your car idle

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - When the cold temperatures dip and your car sits overnight, it causes the molecules in the oil to go closer together, making it thicker and slower moving throughout your car.

You might think a long idle will warm up that oil, but mechanics say that's not the case.  C&G Auto in Myrtle Beach says only one to two minutes is more than enough time to get your car properly lubricated before putting it in drive.

When the temperatures dip, we all bundle up, looking for warmth, anywhere we can find it. And when it comes to your beloved "Betsy," the "Silver Bullet" or whatever you name your car, many people think like John Cochran.

"I grew up where you started your car, waited a few minutes went back in the house, finished your cup of coffee, whatever the case may be and then you went and drove. So I always give it five or ten minutes to warm up," says John Cochran.

Mechanics say that extra idle time is not only unnecessary, it can cause serious damage to your car.  The reason? it's basically too much unburned fuel in your engine when it idles for an unnecessary amount of time.  C&G Auto says there's a fine line between too much, just right and not enough idling.

"If you just crank it up, put it in gear and mash it to the floor and take off, than that's damaging to the engine and you might not notice it that day or the next day, but sooner or later you'll see the results of that," says Owner of C&G Auto, Gary Freeman.

Although you might not be able to see what is happening inside your transmission, there is a big difference.

"This is the oil as it has been sitting in your oil pan overnight. So as you see, it doesn't immediately run out, it takes a little while for it to get there and it runs out very thick," says Freeman.

And this when the oil gets to the correct temperature, "it is warmer and it pours much more freely."

The City of Myrtle Beach has an ordinance that says you can get ticketed for leaving your car unattended with it still running.

The City says this helps keep down car thefts and air pollution. The Myrtle Beach Police Department says the likelihood of you getting a ticket for leaving your car idling in your driveway is very unlikely because they don't go looking for these violators, but technically, it is possible.

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