Can you leave your car’s engine running?

During the winter months, it is easy to start your engine a few minutes before you leave. In fact, leaving your car running can make your windows defrost faster or the vapour dissipate faster. But is it really OK to leave your engine running? We looked into it for you.

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What the Belgian Highway Code says

According to Article 8 of the Belgian highway code, it is not allowed to leave the engine idling except in an emergency situation. In other words, you are not allowed to just leave your car running in the morning. In Flanders, you can get a traffic fine for this, after being determined by the police. Such offences even fall into the same category as parking against the left-hand side. As well as the road or flashing your lights at an oncoming car. In Wallonia, these fines increase, as you will not only be guilty of a first-degree traffic violation, but also of violating environmental legislation.

Of course, you won’t get a fine right away when the police notice your running car. If you are actively clearing your windows of ice, or sitting in your car while fighting vapour-stained car windows, you will not get a fine. However, it is not recommended to leave the car running, and then go inside to have breakfast. Then, after an initial warning or not, you do risk a hefty fine.

What do other countries do?

It’s always useful to know what other European countries think about this, for example for when you’re heading to the snow by car. In countries such as Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy, the authorities feel strongly about leaving your engine running. Italy and France are the leaders here, with fines of up to 173 and 750 euros respectively! Still, better get up a few minutes earlier or read our handy tips for quickly de-icing your windows!