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Should You Warm Up Your Engine Before Driving?

There’s nothing quite like hopping in a warm vehicle on a cold winter’s morning. Depending on your vehicle, you might be able to use an app or press a button on your key fob to start your car while you’re inside, staying warm and toasty.

Aside from comfort, should you start warming up your engine before driving?

Let’s see!

Is It Bad to Drive With a Cold Engine?

Despite what you may have previously heard, driving with a cold engine isn’t necessarily bad. If you take it easy on your cold engine and avoid accelerating hard, you’re likely not going to have any issues or damage your vehicle.

However, you want to ensure that your engine has time to lubricate properly.

So it’s a good idea to wait until your engine is warm before driving like a racecar driver. If not, you’ll likely increase the wear and tear on your engine and eventually start to see minor issues start popping up, which can turn into larger and more expensive problems.

How Important Is It to Let Engine Warm Up?

It was essential to give previous generations of vehicles plenty of time to warm up before hitting the road. However, things have changed over the past several decades.

Technologies have immensely improved when it comes to vehicle manufacturing.

Modern vehicles can properly lubricate essential components in a minute or two. Giving your engine a few minutes to warm up will help your vehicle last a long time. If you are mindful of routine maintenance, you can easily reach 200,000 miles in most vehicles.

What Are the Benefits of Warming Up Your Car? 

By warming up your car, you allow the essential components to properly lubricate before being put to the test. This helps them to run efficiently and smoothly.

You’ll set your car up for success and longevity. However, the amount of time required to warm up your engine is much shorter than most people think.

How Long Should You Let Your Car Warm Up Before Driving Off? 

You should always let your engine warm up before putting it to the test. However, your car’s engine will warm up much faster than the cabin space of your vehicle.

Depending on the severity of the cold temperatures, your engine will typically only require 30 seconds to two minutes to warm up properly.

If you’re waiting to warm up your vehicle’s interior before hitting the road, you’re wasting time, money, and harming the environment. It can take 15 to 20 minutes to warm up your vehicle when it’s idling.

However, you’ll likely warm it up faster if you give your vehicle the two minutes it needs. Your car will generate more heat, and you’ll likely be warm in another minute or two. 

Should I Start My Car Every Day in the Winter?

You don’t typically need to start your car every day during the winter months. Cars and their complex systems are generally safe from cold weather. However, if you live in an area that experienced extreme sub-freezing temperatures, it’s a good idea to start your car once a day.

Old or weak batteries don’t do well in frigid temperatures and are more likely to fail. Not starting your vehicle during a day or two of freezing weather, and you’ll need to find someone with jumper cables. 

Is It Better to Idle or Turn Your Car Off?

In most cases, it’s typically better to turn off your vehicle than to let it sit idle. Manufacturers stopped using carburetors in vehicles in the mid-90s. Anyone driving a carburetor-free vehicle will save fuel and create less pollution by turning off their vehicle.

Whether you want to protect your vehicle or the environment, you also must consider the law. Some states and local communities prohibit vehicles from idling to limit the creation of pollution.

For example, your first offense of running your car longer than three minutes in Washington D.C. could result in a $500 fine. This will quickly eat up any fuel savings you were hoping to experience!

How Much Gas Does Your Car Use Idling? 

If your vehicle is running, it’s using fuel. No matter how many MPGs you get while in the city or highway, a vehicle idling gets 0 MPG. The amount of gas used when idling will vary depending on the size and type of vehicle. 

A compact vehicle with a smaller engine will typically use about 0.16 gallons to 0.25 gallons per hour. However, those driving larger sedans can use two or three times (0.5 gallons to 0.75 gallons) as much gas when idling for an hour.

Are Cold Starts Hard On Engines?

You want to protect your vehicle’s engine, so it lasts for a long, long time. However, idling your car for longer than necessary wastes money and harms the environment.

Letting your engine run for a minute or two will likely be long enough. Even if you want to enjoy a warm ride, your car will warm up in a matter of minutes. 

Will you be changing how long you warm up your vehicle?

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