Should I Warm Up my Engine in Winter?

Winter is just around the corner, and the days are becoming shorter and the nights longer. It won't be long until ice-covered roads, frosty windows, and cold engines greet the mornings of millions of people everywhere.

In the winter, many drivers assume it's a good idea to start their car and let it warm up for a few minutes before driving. However, this practice might be doing more harm than good to your engine.


If your car was manufactured after 1980, it doesn't need to "warm-up" on a cold morning, despite the popular misconception that it does. According to many drivers, idling for long periods of time is bad for the engine, and this misconception has to be debunked.


No More Carburetor!

Source: EngineLabs

Whoever taught you to idle your car on a cold, freezing day in order to "warm things up" is just so much old school. Most vehicles before 1980 were equipped with carburetors, which requires warming up the engines in the winter.

Why, you ask? Air and fuel mixtures were controlled by carburetors, which could not correctly adjust the air to fuel ratio in low temperatures. As a result, part of the gasoline that was injected into the engine using carburetors would remain as a liquid rather than being burnt off during combustion at cold temperatures.


So yes, the carburetor had to warm up before it could function correctly. Otherwise, you are risking stalling out your engine.

Then where is the problem? This clearly means we should "warm up" our engines every day! No, it doesn't! Because we actually don't have carburetors anymore!


Fuel Injectors Time

Source: Holt Lloyd

Almost every car produced in the United States now includes an electronic fuel injection system that helps ensure that the air-fuel combination required for a combustion process is maintained, regardless of ambient temperature. As a result, warming up the vehicle on a freezing day is a thing of the past. Your car's electronic fuel injection system maintains real-time control of the air-fuel mixture.


Automakers state that current fuel injection systems may be driven right away, without the requirement for preheating. Environmental agencies like the EPA and DOE advise idling your car for no more than 30 seconds before driving on cold days. What this implies is that when it comes to cold-day driving, your procedure should look something like this: dressed up and ready to go!

Fact: According to the New World Encyclopedia, carburetors were last sold in new cars in the United States in 1990 with the Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser and Buick Estate Wagon.


Is Warming Up Harmful for the Engine?

Source: WhichCar

Are you still not convinced? We're hearing, and we're taking it into consideration. It's not easy to switch up your routine. To be on the safe side, here are five reasons why idling your vehicle on a cold day might be doing more damage than good for your lovely car:


  1. Engine Damage: Do you have any idea why your check engine light is on? Idling in the cold may have caused engine harm. Idling your car in the cold not only loses gasoline but it's also taking oil from crucial engine components, such as pistons and cylinders. Less oil equals greater friction and more engine wear and tear.
  2. Drive and Warm: Driving your car really causes it to heat up faster despite the prevalent misconception. It may take up to 15 minutes for your engine to reach its ideal working temperature.
  3. Warming Up is Illegal: Yup. You've got it right, my friend. In 30 states and the District of Columbia, leaving your vehicle running and not moving is illegal. According to the situation and state, the aim is the same: to keep your vehicle safe, no matter what time of year it is.
  4. Money Wasted: The expense of idling your car can be significant, even if you don't include the potential harm to the engine. According to research published in Energy Policy in 2009, the United States wastes $5.9 billion annually on petrol due to idle vehicles. Idling is like having money shoot out of your exhaust system every second.
  5. Environment Un-Friendly: An incredible 1.6% of the nation's total greenhouse gas emissions are produced by idle vehicles, according to the same 2009 research. Idling vehicles emit a significant amount of pollutants, which remain in the atmosphere for long periods of time, degrading the air quality and causing undesirable urban smog.


Stop It!

Having all these reasons in mind should be enough for anybody to stop the "warming up" process done every day for the engines. It's not just harming your engine; it's harming your pocket, your environment, and your time.


What do you think of the warming up thing? Do you still practice it? And are you going to stop it?

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