Why You Should Never Warm Up Your Car Before Driving In The Winter

It only seems natural to warm up your car before driving off into the winter weather. When you stop to think about it, it seems perfectly logical and to be honest, people have been doing it for years.

The typical belief is that allowing the car to idle for anywhere from 10-30 minutes provides an opportunity for the cabin to warm up gently. Most people think it prolongs the lifespan of the car.

Even though I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I have to let you know the truth. If you’ve been warming your car up in the winter before getting on the road, you are doing more harm than good.

Experts are saying that a better solution is to jump in your car and start driving right away. It gives a chance to warm up the car’s internal temperature without having to let it sit and idle.

The real reason why a change may be in order is because of the way that our modern internal combustion engines operate.

At one time, carburetors required a few minutes to warm up but the engine control units (ECU) in the fuel injection engines found in today’s cars operate at any temperature. This even includes temperatures below zero. It keeps your car from building up as much heat as it does when you drive it.

Allowing your car to idle is more than just an ineffective way of warming up the engine. The extra fuel that is in the combustion chamber during that time also leaks into the cylinder walls.

“That’s a problem because you’re actually putting extra fuel into the combustion chamber to make it burn and some of it can get onto the cylinder walls,” Stephen Ciatti, a mechanical engineer who specializes in combustion engines at the Argonne National Laboratory, said in an interview. “Gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash the oil off the walls if you run it in those cold idle conditions for an extended period of time.”

Allowing your car to warm up by idling can affect the piston rings, cylinder liners, and other internal parts negatively. The premature wear and tear could end up costing you.

You now have the knowledge necessary to take better care of your car and yourself this winter. Your best option when the weather is cold is to start the car, defrost the windows and mirrors and get on the road.

You might find that it takes up to 15 minutes before your engine is fully warm so when you are in the initial part of the drive, you can protect the engine by not stomping on the gas pedal too hard.

Source: Popular Mechanics

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