How Long Should You Let Your Car Warm Up in Cold Weather?
Listen, I get it. It's cold outside. I experience it every day when I leave for work at 3:45 a.m. So what do we do? We start our cars and let them 'warm' up. But do you really need to let your car sit, and idle?
The short answer is, no. According to Consumer Reports and their chief mechanic, there really isn't any benefit to letting your car run for five to ten minutes other than to defrost the windshield and warm up the driver's cabin. You might be thinking, don't I need to let the engine warm up before I start my drive to work? Sure...for about 30 seconds.
Today's car engines are fully lubricated long before they get to full operating temperature. Consumer Reports says that once you start your car engine, the oil pump quickly circulates the oil throughout the engine, lubricating all the necessary parts. Most modern car engines can do this in 20 to 30 seconds. By the time you start your car, put your seat belt on, check your mirrors, and get comfortable, your car might not be fully warm, but it is safe to drive.
When temperatures get extremely cold, like they are this morning, letting your car run for a minute or so is OK. But if you're one of those people who like to let your car sit and idle for 10 to 20 minutes, you're wasting gas. The fastest way to warm up your vehicle's engine is to DRIVE it, according to Consumer Reports. In fact, excessive idling can cause damage to your car's cylinders, spark plugs, and emissions.
Coldest Morning in Cedar Rapids History
Gallery Credit: Julie James
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Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi