Why you shouldn’t idle your car in the cold

Excessive idling is not beneficial to the long-term health of your engine.

winter is officially here – and winter storms are hitting many parts from the United States.

In freezing temperatures it is a common practice Per many drivers leave their cars warm up a while before hitting the road. Some vehicles even have a preset feature that allows drivers to start their cars remotely.

But a VERIFY viewer wants to know if this can potentially damage your car’s engine.

THE QUESTION

Can warming up your car before driving in cold weather damage the engine?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, warming up your car before driving in cold weather can cause long-term engine damage. Most vehicles built after 1980 no longer need to warm up before driving, and experts say letting it run 30 seconds to a minute after starting your car is a good practice.

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WHAT WE FOUND

It’s true that warming up gas-powered vehicles before driving them in cold weather can cause engine damage Complete car care from Firestone and Smart Motor Toyotaa dealer based in Madison, Wisconsin.

“If you’re one of the many drivers who finds it important to start your car and let it sit for a while before driving in wintry weather, you could be doing more harm than good to your engine,” says Firestone.

Idling your car in cold temperatures can shorten the life of your engine by stripping oil from the engine’s pistons and cylinders — two critical components that help your engine run, Stephen Ciatti, Ph.D. , lead engineer for battery systems at PACCAR, tells Business Insider in 2016.

Gas powered cars need oil to keep their engines lubricated. When you start a car, an oil pump circulates the oil in less than a minute. But if you idle your car to warm up the interior, the oil can be stripped.

Chuck’s auto repair shop explained “Continuously idling a cold engine can actually be counterproductive because it will gradually strip oil from the engine’s pistons and cylinders… Here’s the problem: When the engine is cold, the gas may not fully evaporate since it combines with the air. On newer cars with electronic fuel injection, there are sensors that detect this and compensate by adding more gas to the mixture. When there is excess fuel in the chamber, some of it condenses on the cylinder walls and the lubricating oil removes that Lubricating oil is gone, components such as cylinder liners and piston rings wear out prematurely.”

“Less oil means more friction, more wear and less engine life,” says Firestone.

While some people idle their cars to warm up the interior, others may be trying to protect their engine based on outdated guides.

Firestone and Smart Motors Toyota both say that most cars made before 1980 needed to be “warmed up” when it was cold outside. This is because older model cars had carburetors that regulated the air-fuel mixture in the engine and could not precisely adjust the air-fuel ratio in cold weather.

“In cold temperatures, carburetors couldn’t vaporize all of the gasoline going into the engine, leaving some of it as a liquid rather than being burned during combustion. In order to function properly, a carburetor had to get warm or you risk stalling,” says Firestone.

But times have changed since the 1980s. Today, virtually every car sold in the United States has an electric fuel injection system that helps maintain the air-fuel mixture required for combustion regardless of the ambient temperature, according to Firestone and Smart Motors Toyota.

Instead of waiting for the car to warm up in winter, most manufacturers recommend starting off gently after around 30 seconds, as the engine warms up faster while driving US Department of Energy.

“This means that your driving routine on a cold day should look something like this: get dressed, start the car, scrape ice off the windows and mirrors, get in the car and drive!” says Feuerstein.

Just be careful not to accelerate too quickly or rev your engine too high for those first few moments when you set off in the cold.

“This can put unwanted stress on your bearings and flood the combustion chamber with gas, which in turn will shorten the life of your engine by miles,” says Smart Motors Toyota.

For owners of electric vehicles who do not have conventional motors, the above information applies according to a blog entry on the NAPA Auto Parts website. Instead, NAPA advises EV owners to warm up their cars before unplugging them, as this can help preserve battery range.

“EVs need to draw power to heat the cabin. When you get into a cold cabin car and drive off, the vehicle must draw on its stored electricity to bring the cabin air to a comfortable temperature. This will drain the EV’s battery and leave you with less range,” says NAPA.

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/verify/warming-up-your-car-in-cold-weather-winter-can-cause-engine-damage-fact-check/536-8bf406d7-194c-4ca0-a06d-d1d56006e5d9 Why you shouldn’t idle your car in the cold

Laura Coffey

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