Warming up your car in winter? We have all been told to let our cars run for a few extra minutes before taking off. A study by Energy Policy found that Americans believed they should be warming up their cars for at least five minutes before driving when temperatures are 32 degrees. But it turns out, warming up your car is actually bad for your engine.
The dated practice of warming up cars come from cars that used carburetors as an important engine component. Owners of these cars had to warm up the engine for at least ten minutes. If drivers did not let the engine warm up, the carburetor would not get the right mix of air and fuel in the engine which could cause cars to stall out. The car industry stopped using carburetors during the 1980s and 1990s and replaced them with electronic fuel injection. Newer car models do not need to be warmed up because sensors monitor and adjust to lower temperatures.
According to Popular Mechanics, the best way to warm up a car is to start driving it. Warming up a car puts extra fuel into the combustion chamber, which can make its way into the cylinder walls. Too much gasoline in your cylinder walls can dissolve the oil that lubricates your cylinders, which decreases the lifespan of important engine components. The Department of Energy recommends warming up a car for no more than thirty seconds during winter months.
Some states in the U.S. also have laws or local ordinances that do not allow car owners to warm up their cars unless they are inside the car, including Illinois. Warming up cars has also created a big theft problem. Car thieves are on the lookout for cars that are left idling and use this opportunity to easily steal cars. Unless the car has comprehensive car insurance coverage, the insurance provider will not be responsible for replacing the car in events like these.