Why Warming Up Your Car in the Winter is a Waste of Time and Fuel

Start your engines

On those super cold Canadian winter mornings, many people let their car idle sometimes for ten or twenty minutes before heading to work. The thinking here is that it will help prolong the engine’s life while allowing them to hop into a warm and cozy car.

Contrary to popular belief, warming up your car and letting it idle in winter before driving off does not prolong the life of your engine, but decreases it.

In an interview with Business Insider, Stephen Ciatti, a former drag racer with a PhD in Mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, breaks down why this age-old myth should remain a myth.

Unless you’re driving an older car with a carbureted engine, your car needs less than a minute to sit before you should start driving.

Letting your car idle in the winter causes engine oil dilution. This means that over time, idling leads to raw gasoline bleeding into the oil, which is what breaks down the oil’s lubrication properties and causes your engine to wear down faster.

According to Ciatti, “gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash oil off the walls if you run it in those cold idle conditions for an extended period of time.”

That oil is what is keeping not only your engine going, but it contributes to the overall functioning of your car. Without it, the engine starts to deteriorate, and in time seize the engine, meaning it’ll never start again.

Idling not only wears out your engine, but also wastes fuel and contributes to the increase of greenhouse gases.

So what can you do? Driving your car is the fastest way to warm up the engine, checking and changing you oil about every three months is a good habit too.

So start your engines and drive safely, your car will warm up on its own soon enough.

Image via kaboompics/pixababy