It’s winter. It’s freezing, and so is your car when you jump in the driver’s seat.
Should you warm it up for a few minutes before you take off?
Although the dawn of remote starters may have made it easier to get your car toasty warm before you even get in, the answer is “No.”
Yes, it may be better for your comfort, but it’s not better for your engine because cars aren’t made the same way they were years ago. Vehicles today have sensors that automatically adjust the amount of gasoline going to the engine when it’s cold. Not only does idling waste fuel, it actually shortens engine life because running your car at an idle puts more gas in the combustion chamber, washing oil away from the engine's cylinders and pistons, according to Popular Mechanics. Idling your car doesn't warm the engine; just the cabin.
Simply put, in an internal combustion engine pistons compress air and vaporized fuel in a cylinder which is ignited to power the engine. In a cold engine gas is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and vaporized fuel for combustion, adds Popular Mechanics. Engines with electronic fuel injection have sensors that compensate for the cold by pumping more gasoline into the mixture. This continues until it heats up to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit
The best way to warm up your engine? Drive it. Experts say you should not warm up a car longer than 30 seconds before driving in winter because it warms up faster while you’re driving. The EPA adds that it’s actually better to start your car, turn it off and start it again than to let it idle.
Turn it on and take off, but don’t floor it. Take it easy for the first 5 to 15 minutes.
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