How does warming your car up affect it?
If you are like the typical American, you likely think it’s a good idea to let your car warm up for about 5 minutes. The thought is that on days that are colder than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to get the engine warm so the car won’t stall. The question is, is this true? Who does warming up your car actually affect it?
Less Fuel Efficient
It is true that cars and trucks are less fuel efficient in colder weather. A number of issues factor into this. However, it does take longer for engines to warm up to the optimal driving temperature in the winter. This makes intuitive sense. Where folks get tripped up is how to get their vehicle’s engine up to that temperature. We used to be told to start the car and let it warm up to that temperature. So, if you live in a cold climate, like Vermont, a lot of people wake up, start their cars up then have their coffee, get dressed and finally drive to work. By this time, the conventional thinking is, the car’s engine will be good and warm.
Engines then and now
It used to be that cars had carburetors that would get the right ratio of air and fuel into the engine. If it wasn’t warmed properly the ratio would be off and the car would stall out. Now carburetors don’t exist, they haven’t since they haven’t since the 90s the industry moved over to direct fuel injection. So now the ratio is figured out precisely by sensors.
How long should you warm up your engine?
There is an optimal time to warm up your engine. That time is while you are driving! When you first start your car you may want to let it run for 30 seconds but anything over that isn’t doing much. In fact, if it is doing anything, it’s likely to be adverse. All letting your car idle does is waste gas and put more pollution in the air. So get in your car, start the engine, wait about 30 seconds and then drive. The direct fuel injectors will know exactly what to do for your engine.