To idle, Or not to idle…

For years now, the practice of letting your car “warm up” before winter driving has been commonplace.  In the past, it was believed a warm-up was good for the vehicle and had good side benefits, including a nice warm interior and clear windows.  In this day and age of eco-conscious citizens, the practice has become frowned upon. 

In years past, warming the engine was done for several reasons, some with merit, some without.  Previously, the conventional oils and fluids in your engine benefitted from a cold weather warm-up to help them thin out before the engine was put to work.  Another major reason for the warm-up was to allow the carburetor to stabilize, come off full choke, and achieve the proper air/fuel mixture.  This helped to reduce the risk of a safety issue associated with carbureted engines and their inconsistent application of power while in choke/warm-up mode.  In some instances, the engine would bog.  Imagine this scenario occurring while pulling out in traffic or getting out of the way of a truck! 

This leads us to the modern engine.  As we all know, carburetors have been replaced with fuel injection.  These systems are computer controlled to manage their own warm-up cycle.  This is monitored by sensors to ensure the most possible efficiency and least emissions. Modern fluids in your car are for the most part synthetic or semi-synthetic.  This means they last longer and are unaffected by cold temperatures.   Needless to say, many studies have been done on this subject.  The study term for this topic is “non-traffic idling”. 

Without getting all scientific, it has been established that vehicles left idling are a large contributor to green house gasses.  The average person in cold climates that lets their car warm up before driving does so for twenty minutes!   That is actually the standard warm-up time programmed into the majority of remote starters.  I would also refer to years past when the average warm up on a carburetor engine was five minutes….  It has also been proven that modern engines are only 12% less efficient during warm-up mode.  

In summary, warming up your modern vehicle has fewer mechanical benefits for the engine than it may have in days gone by.  In my opinion, let your engine warm up for a minute or two to make the engine and transmission happy on a cold day.  I know I don’t hop out of bed and go for a run!  We all love a warm car in the morning, but shouldn’t we all do our part when it comes to emissions?  Clear windows are a good point for safety and visibility, in which case I recommend a de-ice style washer fluid in the winter.  When the windscreen is frosty just pull the washer lever and watch it disappear. As always, if you have any questions about your car, feel free to email me at the address below.  And also, feel free to stop by Garry’s service center and say hello!!!

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