Should You Warm Up Your Car?
The winter months are upon us, and we are here to talk about the age-old question of whether or not you should warm up your car. The idea that you need to warm up your car comes from the days when vehicles had carburetors. If you are looking for a quick answer, those of us with modern vehicles have fuel injection. These vehicles do not need to be warmed up, and it's recommended you start driving and let the vehicle get up to temperature. For those who want to know more, here is why.
Why You Shouldn't Warm Up A Fuel-Injected Car
Image via Flickr by Flikkersteph
When you start your fuel-injected vehicle on a cold day, the gas and fuel ratios start off rich. The sensors add extra fuel to compensate for the cold temperatures. The engine will continue to run rich until the engine block and fluids warm up. This added fuel can dry up oil on surfaces, and gaskets. So when you let your vehicle idle, you are just letting the vehicle run rich longer than it has to, while potentially damaging engine components.
The best thing you can do for a fuel-injected vehicle is to start it and let it warm up just enough to get the defroster going. Once you can safely see out of the windshield and windows, you can start calmly driving the vehicle, until the engine gets to the proper temperature. Typically even in the coldest conditions, after about 15 minutes of calm driving, your engine should be fully warmed up and ready for you to drive a little harder.
Why Should I Warm Up My Carbureted Car?
The old carbureted engines mix gas and air mechanically. They don't have sensors to force extra fuel when the weather is cold. The system has a mechanical system known as a choke that will temporarily restrict the air intake to produce a rich fuel mixture. It is important to warm up these cars, as you will have a difficult time driving when the engine is choked. Stalling out, fouling your spark plugs, and more issues can arise when you try to drive a carbureted car too soon.
So there it is: Most of us who drive a vehicle newer than the early 1990s should have no reason to warm up the engine. Mostly all daily drivers on the road today have fuel injection. So go ahead and hop in, and take off as soon as your defroster clears your windshield for visibility. Those who have a carbureted car, continue doing what your grandpa told you because, for that style of engine system, he's right. You need to warm it up before taking it out on the road.
Now you know the reasons why and why not to warm your car up, you are able to keep your vehicle continuing to run safely and efficiently. Warming up your fuel-injected car is just running it rich longer then it needs to run for, while also wasting fuel. So this winter, get in and go as soon as you can safely see.