Life Hacks | Did You Know

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


On those really cold winter mornings warming up your frozen car before driving off just seems like the most logical thing to do.

After all, the people that came before us, like our parents, have done the same thing.

The long-standing belief is that when you let the vehicle idle for 10 to 30 minutes the engine and the cabin will gently warm up and prolong your car's lifespan.

Should I Warm Up My Car Before Driving?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you've probably been doing more harm than good by warming up your car before hitting the road.

According to the experts, the best solution to getting your car's internal temperatures to rise up is by driving it right away instead of letting it idle.

The main reason why car specialists are urging car owners to stop this habit comes down to how modern internal combustion engines operate.

Unlike the days of carburetors that needed several minutes to heat up, the engine control units (ECU) in today's fuel-injected engines are designed to work with any weather, even sub-zero temperatures. So your car doesn't really build up as much heat as it would when you just drive it.

Not only does letting your car idle prove to be ineffective in warming up the engine up, there's extra fuel that gets into the combustion chamber, which in turn 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, told Business Insider. "Gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash oil off the walls if you run it in those cold idle conditions for an extended period of time."

This could lead to premature wear and tear in crucial parts, like the piston rings and the cylinder liners.

Now that you're equipped with this information, the best thing to do when it's frigid out is to start up the car, make sure the windows and mirrors are not covered in frost, then drive off.

It might take about 10 to 15 minutes for the engine to fully warm up, so try not to push the gas pedal too hard during the first chunk of your drive.

[H/T: Popular Mechanics]

Do you warm up your car in the winter?

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.