Remote car starters gain popularity despite crackdown on idle cars

12:40 PM, Dec 11, 2009   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Those who are still opting to drive to work are cranking up cold cars in the morning.  In recent years, more are doing it with remote car starters.

They're convenient, but some communities have cracked down on leaving a car running with no one inside. 

At car shop Ziebart in downtown Minneapolis, manager Lindsay Fraenkel is tied up with installations.

"A good percentage of our business right now is remote starts," Fraenkel said. 

Over at Best Buy in Richfield, the kits are in high demand, now that the bitter blast has bitten us all.

"A lot more people are coming in to buy it," sales associate Chris Rotz said.

"It just gets too cold," customer Rich Weiss said as he was looking at car starters stacked on the shelves. 

"You can run your car for 20 minutes and by the time my wife leaves the house, it'll be warm," Rotz said. 

Good thing for that, because in the City of Minneapolis, there's an open-ignition ordinance.

"It's against the law to start your car with a key and leave it unattended then going back into your house," Jesse Garcia said, of the Minneapolis Police. 

"That's an open invitation to a car thief, sees car keys, busts window, steals car," Fraenkel said.

There's also the anti-idling ordiance.  Motorists are not allowed to let their car sit, for more than 3 minutes within a one hour period.  The U.S. Department of Energy says it only takes 30 seconds to warm up a car's engine.  Idling is also bad for the environment.  The only exception is extreme weather.

"You would not be tagged for anti-idling if the temperature is below zero or above 90 degrees," Garcia said.  "We're looking at extreme differences in weather where you can go out, idle your car for 15 minutes and not be bothered." 

Some good advice for this snow season starts at Best Buy, electronic stores, or some car shops.

"They do have those remote starts available, they're not started with a key in the ignition," Garcia said.  "If someone were to get in the vehicle and apply the brake, it disables the vehicle immediately."

"I'd recommend a remote starter if you want to get into a nice warm car," Fraenkel said.

But there is one concern for remote starters.  If you start your car and let it run on an 'average' day, you could get a citation.

(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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