It’s winter. You’re freezing. You want your car to be toasty warm when you get to it in the morning. So you shuffle as fast as you can outside, turn it over, and let it sit there idling for 5-10 minutes while you finish your morning routine. This also benefits your car as it allows the engine to warm up and get to peak operating temperatures right? Kind of.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the only reason to warm up your car in the morning is to keep your butt warmer on your frigid sojourns and that your car really doesn’t need to be warmed up anymore to operate optimally. Back when carburetors were a major engine component, you would need to let your car idle for around 5 minutes to get the engine up to proper temperature so that you could set off during your morning commute. With the advances made in engine technology and superior building materials to strengthen the engines themselves, this is now completely unnecessary.
Without warming up, the carburetor would not necessarily be able to get the right mix of air and fuel in the engine and the car might stall out. During the 1980s and into the early 1990s, however, the auto industry did away with carburetors in favor of electronic fuel injection, which uses sensors to supply fuel to the engine and get the right air and fuel mix. This makes the problem of warming up the car before driving irrelevant, because the sensors monitor and adjust to temperature conditions.
Idling in winter thus has no benefit to your (presumably modern) car.
So what would be the best way to warm up your new-ish car? Drive it.
Auto experts today say you should warm up the car no more than 30 seconds before you start driving in winter.
“The engine will warm up faster being driven,” the EPA and Energy Department explain. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again than to leave it idling.
So idling does nothing for your vehicle, but it does have several big (and avoidable) costs [like] wasting fuel.
If you just have to be warm in the morning, just know that when you do idle, you’re wasting your fuel and you’ll more than likely get warmer, faster, when you drive away after 30 seconds.
Food for thought.
(Source: The Chicago Tribune)