Engine Warm Up: Is it necessary?

You've probably heard of this one. During winter, you should warm up your car before driving it. Is it necessarily true? Can you drive your car as soon as you start it, cold starts aside? Can you even drive it hard without warming it up?

The answer to this is simple. The warming up rule of thumb is a myth. You don't need to do it. At best, you have to deal with cold starts but that doesn't mean you should warm up your engine every time before driving your car.

It's not necessary to fire up your engines long before you begin driving. That's a waste of fuel, if you didn't know. It's actually okay to drive without an engine warm-up, for your information. 

Busting the Myth of Needing to Warm Up Cars in Winter

  • Just Don't Anymore: Don't idle your car during winter like you're heating up a hot pocket. Don't leave it idling while you brew some coffee on your coffeemaker. Don't start your car with a remote starter then drive it when it's idled long enough. According to a 2009 survey, Americans believe that a car during winter should be idled for over 5 minutes prior to driving it, especially when faced with temperatures of below 32°F.
  • The Root of the Misconception: There's a kernel of truth behind this myth, of course. When it's cold out, cars have worse fuel economy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA and the Energy Department, they're about 12% less fuel efficient when it's cold. Cold starts also happen wherein it takes longer for the engine to warm up, allowing for optimal driving temperature in winter. So why shouldn't you idle your car during winter in light of this info?
  • Mostly for Older Cars: According to auto industry experts, it was mostly older cars that are in need of warming up to work properly because they depended on carburetors more. If they're not warmed up, the carburetor won't get the right air/fuel mix in the engine, resulting in a stalling car. This is why idling the car till it is nice and warm is a good thing for vintage vehicles with carburetors in them. However, this isn't true anymore.
  • No Carburetors Rendered Warming Up Cars Obsolete: The auto industry replaced carburetors with electronic fuel injection from the Eighties to the Nineties. Therefore, the lack of carburetors in modern cars rendered the need to put your car on idle for five minutes to warm up the engine obsolete. The fuel injection system has sensors to supply fuel to the engine and get the right air/fuel mix every time. It's redundant and irrelevant to warm up the car in winter if you have a non-vintage car. You're just using up gas without getting any miles from it.

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