Even when it’s Cold Outside; Warming up Your Car is bad for Your Engine

01.18.17 - Cold Car

Nearly every piece of conventional wisdom has gone out the window over the years because of the changes in technology. Even so, many of us still prescribe to old suggestions and bits of knowledge that were part of automotive care in the past. It’s time to begin to forget anything you knew about cars of the past, especially if you have a car that’s been built in the past decade or so. Today, cars don’t need some of the same care items as we gave them in the past.

On a cold morning it’s been a habit for many decades for many of us to head out in the driveway and start the car and then head back into the house. This gave the car time to warm up for a few minutes before we headed out for the day, but as Engineering Explained explains in this video, that’s not necessary anymore. All you need in a vehicle with a fuel injected engine is about thirty seconds of warm up before you head out. These engines perform better when driven after being started rather than sitting idly by waiting to head out.

The reason for this is the oil and fuel mixture. It takes some time for you oil to warm up, but it will warm up faster when driving than when idling. During the time it takes for the oil to warm up the gasoline and air mixture in the cylinders is going to be richer than normal and cause breakdown of the oil present in the cylinder. This is because gasoline is a solvent and cleans off the oil as it breaks it down, leading to more wear on your cylinders with the friction involved inside your engine.  Should you need to work on your engine or get new parts for it after this mishap, make sure you only use Genuine Parts to do so!

On extremely cold mornings, when you have to scrape off the snow and ice from your windshield, all you need is the time it will take you to scrape the windows before you can take off. This is a little more time, but your car will be ready to go and the oil temp will increase quickly as you drive off rather than while you’re idling in the driveway. The myth about keeping your car in the driveway to warm up was a need in engines that use a carburetor, and if you have one of these cars, you do still need to warm your car up, but the rest of us can get in and drive away.

Yes, this is only one of many items that were part of the old style of thinking when it comes to our vehicles and what needed to be done in order to make sure cars ran well for a long time. You might still be cold in your car when you head off, but your car is built to handle the colder temps and drive away. Don’t damage your engine by warming it up in the driveway, but when you do drive off, do so in a conservative manner until the engine oil reaches the desired temperature.

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