We’ve all been told since we were kids that we needed to give the car time to warm up. My mom used to send me out in the cold to start the car 15 minutes before we left the house. Now that I think about it, thanks a lot, mom! It’s just something we were told and accepted it because our parents said we had to do it. I still sit in my car and let it warm up sometimes, but that is more because my hands are too cold to touch the steering wheel and I just want the heat to warm up. Have you ever asked, Should I warm up my car in the winter?
But, would you believe me if I told you that contrary to popular belief warming up your car does not have a positive effect on your engine? It does not prolong your engines life. As a matter of fact, it does the opposite. That’s right, warming your car up actually decreases your engine‘s lifetime. Why you ask? It actually decreases your engines lifetime by stripping oil away from your engine‘s pistons and cylinders.
What I want to know is was this just our parents being smart and having their kids start the car so it was nice and toasty when they got in?
The Reasons You Shouldn’t Warm Up Your Car When It’s Cold
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If you are interested in the technical side of what is actually going on, it’s a pretty simple explanation. Your car has an internal combustion engine, which works because it uses pistons to compress air and vaporized fuel inside of a cylinder.
This mixture is then ignited which creates a combustion event. This is basically a small controlled explosion that powers your engine. If it’s cold outside and therefore your engine is cold, the gas is much less likely to evaporate. This ends up creating the incorrect ration of vaporized fuel and air fo combustion. Your engine will continue to run this way until it gets up to about forty degrees Fahrenheit.
With that in mind think about how long you are warming your car up in the morning. Some people actually leave their cars idling for 10 to 30 minutes. This is all done because you the car owner believes you are helping your engine. The thought process is that you are reducing wear and tear because an engine just sitting there should warm up gently.
The oil is the lifeblood of the engine, Joseph Henmueller, president and COO of Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association, said.
If warming up your engine is a regular thing, the lifetime of your engine‘s piston rings and cylinder liners will be reduced significantly. This is because the gasoline is washing away the lubricating oil. Oh and an added bonus, you are wasting fuel as your engine runs rich.
What Should You Do Instead Of Letting Your Car Idle And Warm Up
The fastest way to warm up your engine past the 40 degrees where it runs at a normal fuel to air ration is to drive your car. The best thing you can do is start your car, if you have ice or snow on your car then step out and knock it off and then start driving.
It should go without saying that if you start driving like you are a racecar driver right away, that also puts a lot of strain on your engine. Your engine needs about 5 to 15 minutes to warm up correctly. Drive nice and easy for the first few minutes of your drive and your engine should last longer.
Why You Question Should I Warm Up My Car In The Winter
OK, so this myth wasn’t really mom or dad’s smart thinking to get their car warm for when they got in. The idea of warming up your car comes from when cars used carbureted engines. The engine works differently by mixing gasoline and air which makes vaporized fuel and this runs your engine. You do need to allow older cars to warm up before driving. If not the engine will stall. Using carbureted engines ended about 30 years ago and are no longer common in automobiles.
If you have a 1964 Ford GTO then you better warm up that engine, but if your car is less than 30 years old, put on some warm clothes, hop in your car and start driving. You might actually make it to work on time if you stop warming up that engine.