Do you remember the time when folks would warm up the car before driving off since it was cold outside? Well, those days are long gone and you don’t need to warm up the car anymore unless your car is from the 1980s. Before we jump into why you should not do that, let’s talk about Why did they do it in the first place.
Cars from that era featured carburetors that featured a small twisting plate to control the amount of air and fuel to be introduced into the engine. Now, if the carburetor was too cold it would inhibit its working and the end result was that the ratio of air and fuel got haywire resulting in the car to seize up or run smoky. The air and fuel mix above a car’s pistons and the mix is then compressed via an upward stroke of the piston before it is ignited and this pushes the piston back down.
Lucky for us, the very last car equipped with a carburetor that was sold in the US was the 1990 Subaru Justy. There are, therefore, not many carburetor-equipped cars in the US now. The cars that were sold later on featured electronic fuel-injection systems that make use of sensors for keeping the ratio of air and fuel right. Since they make use of sensors, the ratio isn’t affected by cold temperatures.
This doesn’t mean that you should just scoot away in a car as soon as you start it. As per fuel efficiency advice given by the EPA and the DOE, “Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds.” Ray Magliozzi, co-host of the ‘Car Talk’ said, “The proper procedure is to start the car. If it starts and keeps running, put it in drive and go.” Idling your car has been identified as a considerable source for the CO2 emissions by environmental groups.
The following infographic has been created by Sustainable America and as per it, Americans spend about 16 minutes idling per day on average, which is equivalent to driving eight miles. The myth that the engine starting consumes more fuel as compared to idling is also a bag of lies.
Head Gaskets are still made of rubber and nylon which turn rock hard in cold weather. the head gasket is essentially designed to help seal up a high pressure explosive. Number one cause of blown head gaskets here in MN is due to not letting your car properly warm up before taking off. A blown head gasket repair can easily cost over 1500 dollars. The oil also needs a chance to warm up and thin out so it can get into your connecting rod and main bearings to provide proper lubrication, unless you like having a spun rod bearing and your connecting rod clanging around in your lower end.
Have to say, I don’t believe that 2 minutes of idling is the equivalent to 1 mile driving, that would require constant driving at 30mph with the engine at idle speed.
What about clearing the windscreen?
Where I live in Canada the temperatures can and often go down to -30C and -40C so due to major frost and snow on windows vehicles need to warm up. Diesal engines particularly need to get to close to operating temperature so that injectors don’t fail. No idle is fine for California but not the rest of the world
You need to warm up the oil a little unless you don’t care about your engine getting damaged. Also if you live on the east coast in the winter it’s physically impossible to start th car an take off unless your car is equipped with Google cameras so you can see where your going especially if you park outside. So you can save the planet but you might kill yourself in a car accident. I guess the decision is yours, I pick warming up my car and living.
This did nothing to convince me to not warm the car up first. Although I’m warming the car so it’s not freezing inside it. Not sure why other people do it if for another reason.
I was under the impression that in modern cars “warming it up” in winter was more about getting the oil warm and circulated though the engine before putting a load on it. Are you saying it is fine to just start a cold car and burn rubber?
Jim, your right. This is one reason why it’s done. The other reason is so that the engine heats up in a uniform fashion to prevent premature abnormal ware. I spent 15 years as a mechanic before I went to school to be an engineer, so I have a pretty good idea of what I am talking about. Now, with all the being said, I never let my car warm up. I think the materials used in engines today are more resistant to some of the harsher driving conditions so as long as your doing your maintenance accordingly it shouldn’t be a real big issue. If your not doing your maintenance oil passages can get coated with sludge and the oil won’t flow through them very well until the oil heats up. This can cause oil starvation to critical parts and eventually lead to catastrophic failure.
Dont listen to this website. If they are so sure of it i want to inspect their cars.
Have you done tests and recorded data?
Have you done any research at all?
I actually read the manual on one of my recent car purchases and it actually said it is better to start the car and drive as soon as possible rather than wait for it to warm up.