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Matthew Wright

Warm Your Toes, Warm Up Pie, But Don't Warm Up Your Engine

By December 1, 2008

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I can remember my grandfather going outside 10 minutes or so before he left for work to start the car. He'd crank it up, then come back inside and eat a banana or something while he let his bright yellow Lincoln warm up. Back in the day, this wasteful ritual was practiced regularly by drivers around the world. It was rooted in practicality. Old carbureted engines functioned much better warm than cold. They ran more smoothly and efficiently once warmed up. So letting an engine warm up at idle was actually not a bad idea at all.

Fast forward to this millennium and we've got a very different story. Carbs are history, our engines use fuel injection systems that carefully monitor efficiency both in engine power and fuel delivery. These systems employ subsystems that compensate for things like temperature by making minute external adjustments to fueling. This means it will operate at optimum efficiency regardless of engine temperatures. First thing in the morning, it's adding a little extra to the mix to get things warmed up. It's also making sure that when you step on the gas there's enough oomph to get you up to speed quickly. This means that any amount of time you let your car sit in the driveway idling you're wasting gas. You're also not doing the environment any favors because your emission control devices (like the catalytic converter) only function properly hot, and they heat up much faster by driving than sitting still in the driveway. So even if you're a grandpa, don't watch your car warm up through the kitchen window, get going!

December 2, 2008 at 8:31 am
(1) Frank says:

After reading this article I have to wonder what part of the country or world you live in. Up here in the northeast I find it necessary to warm up my car first thing in the morning, to defrost the windshield and provide heat for the drive. If the commute is as short as mine it is also necessary to allow the engine to come to temp. so the thermostat to open prior to reaching my destination or damage could result. As to wasting gas the vehicles now a days use a miniscule amount of fuel idling for a few minutes. If you are concerned about the environment then driving a car cold will pump more hydrocarbons into the air than a car idling to warm up. Try driving a vehicle that runs on diesel without warming it up first. Maybe trying alternative fuels is a better idea. Just my opinion on this subject.
Thanks, Frank from a cold New England city.

December 2, 2008 at 10:14 am
(2) John says:

I agree with Frank. Oils are very thick
including powersteering when it’s below
freezing. Your much more likely to blow a
hose or spin a bearing if you take off
first thing. Even a 5 minute warm up will
help & then drive with a light foot on
the accelerator ie low rpms for a short
Cold in NY

December 3, 2008 at 1:13 am
(3) Harry says:

I usually don’t warm my automobiles before driving in cold weather, because we keep them in the garage; however our 1996 Dodge Caravan has to be warmed up before shifting into reverse otherwise it sounds like the tranny just fell to the floor not to mention the whip lash. I am sure that it is a fast idle problem but haven’t found a mechanic that can fix it yet.

December 3, 2008 at 9:33 am
(4) Ted Madej says:

I fully agree on letting a car warm-up on cold days. Like Frank, I like to see who is about to hit me, until vehicles have instant clear windows and seat warmers available I’ll remain content to sip my coffee watching the morning news until (approx 4-5 min.) the car’s anti-freeze warms up. John might try using synthetic oil in the engine, I don’t know about automotive stores carrying other fluids for low temp operation ,small aircraft though, (as a reference only) are usually warm before take-off following a pre-flight check-list and taxi to the active runway. Or, like me, you can move to Florida, or another warm climate, Harry, try an engine block heater, well worth the expense , I had one on a car in Nebraska, (an extension cord and timer are real convenient too) worked fine, that’s my 2 cent’s, Stay warm , Thanks Ted M.

December 3, 2008 at 6:34 pm
(5) Jon says:

I definitely disagree with the article here. I warm up my engine, not because of anything to do with fuel, but because of oil. If engines don’t need to be warmed up, why do we have engine block heaters?

December 4, 2008 at 12:01 am
(6) frank says:

I agree with frank and john but I own a 66 cevy car with electronic ignition and I will warm up the car it has nothing to do with the carbartor getting warm but it do’s have to do with the purpose of the oil pump to transfer oil from the pan to the top of the motor to pim the upperhalf of the motor that is why even when you purchase a new vehicle which I have a 2009 camry the dealer even suggests it to break in the motor and all internal parts also own a truck and most truckes have a slight knocking noise in upper engine due to pistons being not fully lubracted. frank in california.

December 4, 2008 at 1:26 am
(7) autorepair says:

Thanks for all the feedback guys. However I think you’re wrong. Old school mentalities are hard to crack, but consult a current service manual and you’ll see that no gas-engined cars or trucks need warming up. There will be no damage to the engine if you are using the right grade, and good quality (preferably synthetic) oil for the season. Diesel engines require block warmers not for the oil, but because the fuel itself will gel at very low temps, causing the engine not to start. As for clear windows and warm seats, that’s a luxury decision, not engine safety. You could always put on gloves and get out the scraper. As for the extra hydrocarbons a cold engine is releasing if you decide to drive off right away, the engine heats up much more quickly under higher RPM and load, so you won’t be releasing any more stuff driving cold than sitting in the driveway cold. Probably less.

PS: Frank, I’m in upstate NY so I’m no stranger to the cold!

December 5, 2008 at 12:19 am
(8) Pete says:

I agree with the author here. I live in Minnesnowta and it is not uncommon to see people sitting and letting their cars warm up for 20-30 minutes. They try and tell me its better for the engine but i think it is an excuse for comfort factor. The best thing you can do is get on the road. The oil doesn’t circulate as well at idle as it does driving down the road. Even though the engine might be warm after idling for 20 minutes the transmission and rearend will still be cold because they haven’t been moving. Also letting the engine sit and run on fast idle only sits and washes the cylinder walls. Not good for rings or sleeves.

December 6, 2008 at 9:57 am
(9) Chuck says:

There are many good points here. Just thought I’d throw my two cents in…
Confort? Yes warm seats are a comfort, but what about defrost? I can scrape my windows, but it’s hard to scrape the insides of the windows when it’s 5 degrees outside. Not to mention breathing in an ice cold car does fogg windows. Warming up your car for 4-5 minutes is a definate help on the safety side.
To start on oiling, and diesels, I’ll start by saying that I’m an ASE master certified medium/heavy tech. I also have advance diesel engine cert. I’ve been a service manager for school bus fleet for one of the top school bus companies, and idling is a huge deal with much controversy.
Idling has started to become taboo in the med/heavy truck field. Mostly because of waste of fuel. When you run that many miles, 10 minutes of idle does become a huge deal. Especially every day and with many trucks, it adds up really fast. Also, for diesel owners, they do need a minute or two warm up time to get the cylinders hot enough to fire the fuel efficiently. Again this has been helped with new technology. Beyond a few minutes, diesel engines will not warm up efficiently without moving down the road. The engines do not create enough heat at idle to stay warm, you have to load them. So you won’t warm them up efficiently by letting them idle in the driveway. Idling also causes fuel wash, which is the excess fuel washing the oil from the cylinders. This can really damage an engine fast. That’s why if you leave a new Ford, Dodge, or Chevy diesel idling, it will raise its own idle. It also cuts fuel to alternating cylinders to make it work harder and cut fuel wash.
Block heaters are designed to warm coolant(comfort), warm the cylinders(better fuel burn), and keep coolant from freezeing in extreme cases(so does proper coolant maintenance). They are almost a requirment on diesels so the fuel can fire when cold.
As for oiling, cold starts are always hard on an engine. The best thing you can do is prepare. If your worried about oiling, check you recommendations, it probably says to put a lighter oil in extreme cold conditions. Do it. It will help so you don’t have to idle your car for an hour to get the oil warm. Oil also won’t warm without moving through the engine, so driving the car will warm the oil faster. And as for hard shifting, that is usually a sign of a problem. Time to change trans fluid, sticking valves in the trans, weak pump, or sticking pressure regulator. This also will warm faster if your moving.
Manufacturers are working to design vehicles that will require minimal warm up time with the least amount of premature wear. Your also talking about a minute amount of excess wear.
In my opinion, its probably best to start the car, warm it up while scraping the windows, with the defrost on. Then get in and drive as soon as you can safely see. Less idling is best, but I don’t think we’re ready to completely get rid of it in the north.

It’s -2 this morning with snow in WI, so I understand.

December 7, 2008 at 1:07 pm
(10) Marcel says:

I totally agree with Chuck. New engines are designed to be started and get going. Idling is worse than driving the car cold. I live in Montreal and I certainly know about cold winter conditions. Proper maintenance, use of synthetic oil and, most importantly, a good block heater connected to an extension cord with a timer to allow for at least a couple of hours of engine warming prior to driving are the best both for the car and the environment. Heated seats are a luxury we have come to enjoy in the last few years. If you have leather seats, as I do, they are almost indispensible. Either that or get seat covers for the winter months. Idling should be limited to the time it takes to remove the snow off the car and removing ice from the windows and windshield – all for safety reason. I didn’t mention winter tires because it is another topic altogether. They have become mandatory in our province as of this year and should improve eveyone’s safety as a result.

December 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm
(11) Anne (Midwest Escapee) says:

I was surprised by the article, and not surprised by the good-humored, but passionate responses of readers in areas of the US & Canada where sub-zero temps are common in winter.

I was raised in Wisconsin and have vivid memories of -70 wind chill days. Brrr. Maybe that’s why I moved to California and then to Washington state – heh-heh.

I would like to offer the thought that those who live in mild climates should take the advice not to “warm up” their engines when it’s 40-60 degrees F. That’s just nuts.

I’m also wondering how diesel vehicles differ. They’ve got fuel injectors, too. But I’ve always heard that diesels are much more sensitive to cold weather and need a bit of a warm-up even on relatively mild (below 35F) days.


December 9, 2008 at 1:14 pm
(12) Barrie says:

Here in Canada, there are only a few places where the winters are warm enough to ensure a frost-free windshield in the morning. Nevertheless, running the car until all the windows are clear is wasteful and hard on the environment, as the article suggests.
Talk about damaging the power steering pump or spinning a bearing is erroneous. There is that possibility anytime you start your car if it has been sitting, no matter what the outside temperature. There is a much bigger danger of damaging the car when the interior is warm when you jump in, because the temptation is to pop into gear and drive – too fast for the drive train, which won’t get warm until it is loaded, which means driving gently for a few blocks (or farther if it’s really cold!).
In cold climates, it can get cold enough to make the tires “square”, which will keep you going slowly until the tires heat up enough to become flexible. Volkswagen Beetle drivers in the old days had to keep a scraper in hand to clean off the INSIDE of the windshield, and a window open to minimise the frost buildup.
Many European countries have “idling” laws to prevent excessive warming up routines and to effectively kill drive-throughs, because of the pollution they produce.
Another concern, which is seldom mentioned when talking about idling, is the drop in oil pressure in a gasoline engine at idle. There is a danger that parts, especially the valve train, will not get enough lubrication to prevent premature wear. The multi-valve systems used in most cars today are more susceptible to this, yet no one seems to be aware of this issue.

December 9, 2008 at 2:46 pm
(13) John Rinaldi says:

I get a kick out of all those so called experts who claim that you shouldn’t warm up your engine. Just get into your car and go. Thats ok for three seasons, but totally not for most North American area’s. Frozen windshields (inside and out) prevent most commuters from doing that. Sure,jump into your car and go, and probably get into an accident. thats what likely to happen where I live (Northern BC, Canada). I am a certified Auto Mechanic and I know that you get marginal engine lubricate in cold weather. Most of the time, the oil is so thick that oil filter operates in bypass. So basically you have no oil filtration until the engine warms up. Does that sound like a good condition for the engine to be operating in full load? I don’t think so. At 20 to 30 below (C) every lubricant will cause excessive drag, which will increase engine load. Start and go may sound like a great idea for the environmental banana’s, but not for us who acually have winter.
John Rinaldi
Terrace, BC

December 9, 2008 at 5:54 pm
(14) TK_M says:

Only tangentially relavent, as it certainly is not a gas auto, but I rememebr my father telling me that back on the farm, the tractors would have their diesel set into jelly in cold weather, so to get them going, they would have to light a fire under them.

Was he pulling my leg, or do you really have to go to such extremes to get a tractor going?

December 9, 2008 at 8:50 pm
(15) tjdepere says:

The author I suspect must live in Miami or someplace South of there..
He sure does not live any place where it gets cold for a period of time.
Its garbage writing

December 9, 2008 at 9:42 pm
(16) John Callahan says:

I live in upstate New York so am not unfamiliar with cold weather. At one time I commuted to work about thirty miles one way so I racked up a lot of milage on my cars. At the start of my daily journey is a steep hill about two miles long, when I reached the top of that hill the engine was up to operating temperature. I consistently drove my cars at least 130,000 miles and they never burned any oil and I never had any engine or transmission problems. I attribute the long engine life to a good warm up in a short time. I never experienced frost build up on the inside of the car because I kept a window open until the heater had sufficient heat to keep the windows defrosted. A ice scraper worked well on the outside and I was always careful to make sure all the windows were clear of ice and snow. Good maintenance is also necessary with oil changes every 3000 miles or so and the use of synthetic oil. I drove over three quarters of a million miles on that commute and always got very good service from my American made automobiles

December 10, 2008 at 5:03 pm
(17) Matt Wright says:

Hi tjdepere, thanks for the comments but I have to say that although Miami sounds really nice to me since there is 4 inches of snow predicted for tonight, I am in upstate New York. It gets pretty darn cold here.

It’s great to see the debate raging on the warm-up myths. Aside from interior frost (which I’ve never seen on a car that doesn’t leak water like crazy) I haven’t read anything that supports to idea of a warm up in the morning.

December 11, 2008 at 7:52 am
(18) Michael says:

Yup, I’ve actualy put fire under my diesel tanks to degel my fuel on my peterbult.. It gets cold here in Montreal. As for idiling the car in cold weather, well I like to idile my gas cars for a max of three minutes and then take off in any temperature. Just enough to get the “system balanced” on the computer and the temperature of the oils warmer so I wont blow any seals in the engine. Also, when I go its always “easy accelerations” for the first few minutes then its off to normal driving. As for diesels, well that’s a whole different ball game. In extreme cold the diesel engine has to warm up so that it returns hot fuel back to the tanks to keep them from geling. BUT, you cant idile too long because the engine will never warm up in idile. Diesels in general are a cooler runing engine than gas in idile. I think that you have to find the balance between the time you need to Idile your vehicule and go. Idiling for too long not good for your engine no matter what. The oil pressure is not enough to lube the top at idile and you’re wasting gas and time for nothing… so there’s my 2 cents

December 11, 2008 at 2:12 pm
(19) Frances says:

I have a question about this: As of what year is it so that a car doesn’t need to be warmed up? I assume our 2006 sedan doesn’t need warm-up, but we also have several Fords dating from 1960 through 1970, and a 1986 GMC pickup. Are they also start-and-go? (I know, you’d think someone who owns multiple vintage cars would know this, but my husband and I are ignorant jalopy owners, not knowledgeable collectors.)

December 11, 2008 at 5:37 pm
(20) Erin says:

I have to say that this is a heated discussion, and I wish the people who put comments in, would actually read all of the comments above before dissing the author. As for warming things up, someone couldn’t pay me to ride my 2004 zx636 cold. I don’t know a lot about cars, but one thing I do know is if you hammer on a motorcycle throttle cold things are bound to turn out bad. Reason is.. as noted above, the oil needs time to warm up and start moving through the engine. When the engine in off, the oil sits in the bottom of the motor, then needs to make it’s way back up to the top-end of the bike. I know motorcycles are different then cars but this is what I always think of when starting up my car. But after reading the article above I’m less likely to sit inside while my car warms up. Thanks author (Matthew):-) Cape Cod, MA

December 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm
(21) Louis Shen says:

I’m in Taiwan and I always do the same thing as the author suggests in the article with my VW Golf (Gas). After reading different comments above, now I can imagin how life is inconvenient in a freezing land. Good luck.

December 12, 2008 at 12:32 pm
(22) mary f says:

Iím sorry but I DO warm my car up if its cold…the reason….my 11 month old baby, thatís why….I donít want his little butt freezing on the drive to day care….now I know people are going to say “wrap him Iím blankets!” and trust me I do, but to have a baby bundled in blankets and then trying to get his car-seat belt buckled SAFLEY AND CORRECT is kind of hard when he is wrapped in 4 blankets, and a winter coat. Moms out there do you understand what I mean……

December 13, 2008 at 11:00 pm
(23) A.J. says:

It’s going to be 0 degree’s here in Nebraska in a few days. I plan on leaving my car in the truck outside all night and in the morning, starting it up and immediately flooring it. I’m sure the oil will be completely pumped through the engine almost immediately when i start the car and it won’t do any damage. Great research on your topic!

For those of you who are not car-savvy, that was sarcasm. When its cold, let your car warm up. I don’t know who let this guy post this article, but someone needs fired.

December 13, 2008 at 11:06 pm
(24) A.J. says:

Also, what metal is your engine made of? One that doesn’t contract when cold and expand when hot, apparently.

December 15, 2008 at 12:13 am
(25) Peter says:

I’m in Edmonton. It is going to be -32 C that’s 26 below F tomorrow morning. If I don’t warm up my vehicle for at least 15 minutes, my breath will freeze in the inside of the windshield, even with the defroster on high. Not so ease to drive safely when you have obstructed forward vision.

December 15, 2008 at 7:58 pm
(26) Paul says:

Atleast there are some people that know what they are talking about on here. I work in the service dept for a Honda dealer here in the state I live in It is very hard on the engine to drive it cold You can and will do severe damage in the long run to a engine driving it cold compared to letting it reach what certain motor’s specify as a proper engine temp

Honda makes very good motor’s but they are only as good as how the owner takes care of them for example the h22 motor honda uses in alot of there cars in the 90s some of them blew out at 30,000 miles and some are over 500,000 miles running like spec says it should

I have personaly watched tech’s blow motors up for customers that are having issues to help with insurance and warrentys (I do not support fraud) and everytime i seen it done they just start the engine cold and put it in neutral and floor it
-Blows the motor every time

I think some people are willing to set aside their own common sense for the lets save the planet movement infact george carlin put it best look at this youtube link of one his performances


December 17, 2008 at 1:49 am
(27) ALAN says:

That person from Edmonton commenting on frosted windshields and having to warm up his vehicle.Ever noticed all the people driving with their windows fogged, going down the highway with the last exit 5 miles back?It is because you have to open a window a crack for the first minute in the car.More people, more minutes.Start your vehicle scrape ,brush ,what ever,2 minutes at idle .Drive slow for the first few blocks.Lower temperature,more blocks at slower speed.You will not want to drive fast with the window open a crack anyways .Get the vapour from your breath out until your car warms up and happy driving.I am also from Edmonton and drive a big old minivan,never idle more then 2 minutes and my windows are always frost free BABY !

December 17, 2008 at 4:47 am
(28) Frank says:

That makes sense, drive in sub zero temps with your window open and frost reforming on your windshield because your engine has not come up to temp yet. So we just throw safety out the window for a couple more minutes of patients. What in the world were auto starters invented for and they seem to sell very well this time of year.

December 17, 2008 at 6:20 am
(29) Johnny says:

Obviously the editor has never heard of a turbocharged engine. I think he should investigate the problems caused by cold oil not circulating through a turbo correctly and the consequences this can have. In general Turbo/Supercharged or normally aspirated engines should all be allowed to warm up to reduce likelyhood of damage caused by cold oil, it’s not really got anything to do with fueling…

December 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm
(30) Pops says:

Great topic, honorable frostbitten brothers. I think it’s less foggy talking about this if we include “manual or automatic transmission?”. Comfort aside, it’s easier to get moving quicker
with a manual because the fast idle doesn’t eat gearteeth like it can with an automatic. It takes me about 3 -5 minutes at 0*F(-18*C) or colder before the idle goes below 1000 rpm in my auto.trans. vehicles. I don’t like shifting into gear at rpms higher than that; but, if you use 10Wxx or lighter oil, I do not think you need to worry in a manual trans. vehicle about waiting that long for good engine lube to happen. Try pouring your favorite winter-weight oil next time it’s brrr-cold (“pour point”) and you’ll know which brand and type of oil is best to use. I also use an anti-fog coating on the inside front windows of my ’60s jalopy and find it really helps the defroster work better. (Helps to not breathe directly on the windshield & crack a window, like was said). I would be interested in others’ comments about the auto. trans. fast idle thing.

December 21, 2008 at 11:20 am
(31) Steve says:

I’m an ASE certified Master Automotive Technician. It is important to remember that you should not just start a cold motor and go racing down the road. You should take it easy on the motor for a few miles. It is true that the oil will be cold and it does not lubricate as well when it is cold, but you also do not need to let it warm up before driving…you just need to go easy on it for a little while.

December 22, 2008 at 10:02 am
(32) mst says:

I really enjoyed reading this article. Not only does it remind me of the “good ole days” watching grandpa, but it reminds me that I am not crazy for letting my car warm up in 2008!

December 22, 2008 at 1:12 pm
(33) Bing says:

What about starting your car just to warm it up? We often do that a couple times a day but I worry about the battery. If it is a good idea to start it, how long should we run it for?

Thanks much!

December 22, 2008 at 3:28 pm
(34) Pops says:

The more often you start it, the faster it wears. “Back in the day”, there were manually-pumped pre-oilers available to distribute the oil in the engine, before starting, to help address this issue. Listen to the ASE certified guys.

January 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm
(35) Kenny says:

I realize this topic is already dead, just had to comment anyways. All the posts about oil temp needing to come up to temp are valid but it seems most forgot the actual temp of the engine components. Metals expand and contract depending on temperature. Your engine was designed to run at a specific temp range. All the tolerances in the engine are picked for that range. Running the engine cold means you are running out of tolerance. Ever wonder why your engine is noisy when its cold? You can hear the lifters chatter and other pinging sounds. Running the engine cold should only be done at low rpm. Modern engines will never run at “peak efficiency” when they are cold because your computer cannot manipulate the thermal expansion of the parts in your engine or compensate for the cold oil.

January 7, 2009 at 9:12 pm
(36) Jason says:

I live in Alaska, it’s been at least 10 below since late December. Letting it warm a little while is good for the engine, letting it warm for warmth on the drive is wasteful and I say that driving a Yaris. Use a scraper…wear a parka.

January 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm
(37) Jason says:

About my previous comment…people with babies and elderly are excused.

January 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm
(38) Nick says:

i drive a 1998 ram 1500 with 476,000+ miles and live in indiana, it is not as cold as say wisconsin or alaska but it does tend to drop to zero. i used to own a 2001 ford f150 and my dad insisted that i just start and go, took his advice and thats why i now have a different truck. i religiously believe letting the engine warm up is good because it’ll properly lubricate the engine and help with a smooth ride. it seems to me that my current truck has a hard time driving normal when the temp is cold and i can hear my engine bitching about it to me. so if you got a brand new car or a rental go on and tear it up but if yours is a little older let er warm up it may kill the enviroment, but thats what trees and hybrids are useful for it equals out. oh and this world is going to crap anyways why not help :}

February 6, 2009 at 1:00 am
(39) Deb says:

My comment is more of a question! As I read the comments about warming up your car, I keep looking to see if it is actually bad for your engine to leave your car idling too long. I’ve been told that recently, and just wondered if it was true. Thanks for any help and advice you can give! Deb

February 7, 2009 at 9:33 am
(40) Derrick says:

I am actually from Miami, and recently moved to upstate NY. Poor decision on my part I know. I drive a 2001 BMW Z3 and use High Performance Synthetic Oil. My friends up here made me familiar with warming up my engine at low temperatures to reduce wear and cause damage. I use to do this until I read my Owners Manual for my car which states,

“Do not allow engine to warm up by allowing it to run while the vehicle is stationary. Instead, begin driving immediately at a moderate speed.”

I suggest everybody to look at the owners manual for their specific car.

February 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm
(41) Thomas Brown says:

During the winter on cold days in Spokane, WA I have noticed that my lifters are very noisy at the initial start up, which is indicating that it is trying to suck thick cold oil up a long line. I usually wait 30 seconds for oil to get up to the top of the engine before pulling out and putting a load on the engine. I think this is very wise myself…Tom

May 26, 2009 at 11:52 pm
(42) John King says:

I agree with what the author says. I live in the northeast and it gets pretty cold here during the winter. If I get in my vehicle in the morning and there is no snow or frost on the windows then I let the car warm up for a minute or two and then go gently. Obviously if there is frost or snow I remove it before driving.

I think what he was getting at is that it does not benefit your engine to warm it up more than a couple of minutes. As for remoter starters, the reason they sell is because people don’t want to have to spend time in a cold car and would rather let it run 15 minutes so they can be comfortable. It has nothing to do with benefitting your engine.

June 18, 2009 at 6:24 pm
(43) teddy lorkie says:

when smokey yunick was writing an automotive column for Popular Science in the 60′s he said after you have oil pressure drive away under a light load it always worked for me

December 11, 2009 at 8:11 am
(44) Daniel says:

Really guys? Learn to read. He isn’t talking about frosted windshields, he’s talking about engine performance. Modern cars are designed to regulate engine efficiency regardless of external temperature.

December 17, 2009 at 8:26 am
(45) Miku says:

I’m a car warming addict! I live in Chicago where the temps drop to below zero with Icy winds. There is no way in Jack Frost’s culo anyone living in a frigid North American State can just jump into a car and drive when it has been sitting out in the cold unprotected. These so called “modern” mechanics and “new-age” car experts probably can just jump in an unheated car and go because they can manually equip their car with the stuff to make it possible OR these cold car jumpers are to blame for most accidents that occur on snow and ice days considering they can’t see what’s in front. Since there is NO substantial proof that warming a car does more damage than good, like my Grandpa, I am going to remain a car warming addict.

December 17, 2009 at 10:04 pm
(46) Collin says:

I drive my dad’s 1989 f250 to school everyday and it’s pretty cold here in the morning right now. I just plug the cord in and keep the engine warm all night then start it in the morning letting it run for about 5-10 mins and leave.

December 30, 2009 at 8:51 am
(47) Junnie Pips says:

How about warming up just to heat the passenger compartment??!!

January 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm
(48) Keivn says:

It seems that too many people these days are so confused. Now this response is coming from a vehicular engineering student, so take it as you will. The first post is the exact attitude most people have, so let’s clear up some of these myths. I don’t live in the Northeast; I live somewhere worse: the Snowbelt of northeast Ohio where sub-0 temps, windy days, and constant snow are expected from November through March usually.

It doesn’t matter how short or long your commute is. As long as you are using the proper oil (synthetic is an even better choice; I use 0W-30 oil because it is made to run cold). You only damage your car by starting it up and then flooring it on your way to work or where ever. Go easy on the throttle and you won’t do any damage. Been doing it for years in my car and it has yet to need a tuneup or anything go wrong. It’s 10 years old by the way.

Minuscule? Don’t know what gave you that idea. As it has always been, your car uses the most gas by sitting and idling. Think about it? You are getting 0 mpg so that is gas down the drain. Have a go at convincing people that long periods of idling are necessary.

A cold car does not pump more hydrocarbons into the air; that would be a cold catalytic converter which warms up faster by driving the car. Idling, for instance on my Mustang, is around 800 rpms. Driving puts it well above that. Which do you think creates more heat? Don’t think you can convince us of that one either.

You can’t compare diesel to gasoline. Two completely different types of combustion and purpose. Diesel engines must be warm because heat is what causes the combustion. Gasoline uses a spark. The only reason you need to warm up a gasoline powered car is to get the oil flowing throughout the engine. If you are using the right type of oil, even in cold cities, this doesn’t take more than a couple minutes. If you are using the wrong oil, well you just may have bigger problems on your hands.

January 6, 2010 at 11:11 pm
(49) Alex says:

There is an issue here, everyone says “warm up” and there is no real definition given to it. For some, warming up the car is a min or two, to others it’s 20-30 mins. Someone needs to define warming up the car. When cold mine idles at 1500 rpms and I let it idle til it goes down to 1250 rpms. Then I drive slowly for a bit. Only takes a couple of mins to get to this point. If it’s warm out, the car usually doesn’t need much time to warm up, just enough time to circulate the fluids a bit to help equalize the temps. If I was worried about the environment I would have bought a fuel efficient beater

January 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm
(50) Bobbi says:

I find it humorous that most of the people who live in cold climates say it is not necessary to warm their cars before driving (but thankfully they take it easy for a couple of minutes). It is the woosies in the warmer climates who think the cars need to be warmed–but in the process of saying that they admit that it is for their own personal warmth. I have lived in several temperature climates and have never truly warmed my car. I run the defrosters while scraping if necessary. However, since I have found a spray for the windows to keep the snow and ice from sticking, I rely on that–not on wasting gasoline to warm my seat. Heaters in seats? Are you kidding me? What has the world come to? I wear mittens, scarf, and hat and get in and go to work without wasting the time or the gas to warm the air in my car.

February 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm
(51) Rob from Alberta says:

For what it’s worth….I grew up where it did and still does routinely get -60 F. Where we did light fires under the vehicles (all of them) to get them to start….where if we got one started, we used it to pull all the rest to start. I now live in Vancouver, BC a lot warmer. I own a Cummins diesel and I let it warm up in cold weather (32 F or anywhere close to it….why????….’cause my neighbor bitched about my RV and leaving my Diesel roaring away outside her bedroom window early in the morning while it goes up onto fast idle and back down is soooooooo karma like…….


February 15, 2010 at 4:43 am
(52) Used Westernstar trucks says:

Probably doing it to heat the car’s interior before they actually get in and drive. More comfy that way. But there are several advantages to idly heating up the car when it’s really, really cold. You’re heating up the oil, getting the coolant flowing, etc. Unless it’s below freezing, cars don’t need to be warmed up at all. Driving them gently is the best warm up there is. If it’s 25 degrees out, you might want to let it warm up for 30 seconds. If it’s 10 degrees out, warm it up for a minute. If it’s -10 degrees out, move somewhere warmer.

July 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm
(53) Ryan says:


December 1, 2010 at 2:53 am
(54) Matt says:

I am sure most people are aware that cars these days don’t need warming up like they used too due to fuel injection computer management etc…however this is not the main reason to warm up my car, it is simply common sense to warm up the engine so you can get some heat inside the cabin to make it safe to drive otherwise ice will form on the windshield/rear window. Most people will just take off to work wondering why the heater takes 5 mins to warm up and are left wiping the front windscreen with a glove so they can see.
Also I disagree with this article I think in cold weather my car feels better after warming her up a bit, it just feels like the right thing to do still regardless of advances in tech. Oh yeah and its safe.

Poor article.

December 5, 2010 at 1:47 am
(55) Gioly says:

I’m a new Yorker and i do warm my car up ’cause i love it

December 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm
(56) Caden says:

It’s better to let the car warm up for at least a minute before taking off, this allows the metals in the cylinder to expand (preventing piston slap on aged engines), oil to become less viscous and move everywhere it needs to be, and it’s easier on your trans to go into gear when the car is not in high-idle mode. I probably let my car warm up too long, but better safe than sorry, that $0.10 won’t be missed.

December 30, 2010 at 10:17 pm
(57) alberta bound says:

i have an aftermarket vehicle information display that shows how many gallons an hour your truck uses. you know for a 6.0 liter vortec it only uses 0.4 of a gallon an hour. by any means that is nothing compared to driving it down the road so i think i will stick to letting it warm up every cold morning.

January 5, 2011 at 6:21 am
(58) Jeremy Bellmore says:

i live in a sleepy town in south dakota. i only drive 4 blocks to work and i dont care how much gas i burn idling to warm. sure beats walking when it hits 20 below with 40 below windchill

January 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm
(59) Shawn says:

†I get a kick out of all the “manuals” that say warming your car only wastes fuel. Well, duh they’re gonna say not to warm your engine because warming your engine lowers your fuel economy. That’s all the car companies care about anymore is how many MPG’s they’re getting. Idiots. There’s a reason why engines have operating temp’s around 200 degrees. And anyone who thinks it’s ok to drive a car with an engine in 20 degrees when it’s supposed to be 220 degrees needs to think about that one a little longer.

January 11, 2011 at 7:28 am
(60) Jason says:

I own a 2003 Mitsubishi and a 1994 turbo diesel f350 with a 7.3 international engine block and I live in Pittsburgh,pa and my mitsibushi never idles more than 30 seconds even when it’s 10degrees and I have no problem with fog along as I have my window cracked or defrost on. Don’t know if it damages the engine but I haven’t had a problem yet and I have close to 60k miles on it. My f350 diesel however simply will not run good unless it’s idling for 8 minutes. I am unable to plug my diesel truck up since I live in an apartment.It however sounds to me that environmentalist will tell you to do anything to get you to stop emitting pollution with out regard to your personal interests. Honestly the people who are envirmentaly gung ho are usually finically well off people who can afford to buy a new car every 5 years so they wouldn’t know anything about extending the longevity of a car they don’t plan on keeping.

February 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm
(61) matthew says:

to be honest it is actually not your engine that really needs warming up it is your tranny and as long as it is not subzero temps you dont need to warm a car up just be easy on the engine and the tranny cus that is a fast way to grind your gears

February 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm
(62) Rojer says:

I live in cold upstate NY. I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t let their car warm up a little before driving it. Throughout a winter you will go for months with 20 degree or less mornings. There is no way it is good for an engine new or old or anything for that matter to make a drastic temperature change below freezing to top running temperature. As for diesel, I had a 3 minute drive to school when I was younger and I used to let my diesel Mercedes idle from 7am until about 7:45am when I was ready to leave so it was nice and toasty for me! Now that was bad for the environment, i know. However, don’t let anyone tell you that giving your gas engine a couple minutes in freezing temperatures isn’t necessary. P.S. If your concerned about the wallet, consider your cars lifespan if taken care of vs. firing up a combustion engine in below freezing weather and “taking off.” You will never see 200kmi treating a car like that. Thanks.

March 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm
(63) cristhian says:

alright, i dont know much about this topic as i am researching it. my mechanic tho, a bmw certified mechanic tells me to never run the enine cold because its bad for it. he tells me to warm it up everytime it is cold (mornings) im from new jersey and sometimes it gets really cold here. it just doesnt make sense that people say idling your car is bad for the engine. but how? really, how? its like you waking up and start running right away. you’ll get cramps and prolly stop running because you always have to warm up before running. how idiotic it sounds to just start your engine and go. you gotta always warm up your vehicle in the morning. it just like any kind of metal, if its too cold and then you put something really hot to itnit will eventually bent or break. ok, well if you start yor car in a really cold weather and run it the temperature changes drastically fast which is bad for any object or anything. its physics people. warm up your cars. global warming is a myth. the world is not warming up. it is just a cycle. the world will not end. it is iust following a cycle, just like everything in life. life is a cycle.

April 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm
(64) Big Tom says:

My dad used to warm up the car for 45 minutes with the choke kicked it. and it still stalled.

May 26, 2011 at 10:37 am
(65) paul says:

Most places, most of the time you don’t need to warm up. Yes, sometimes you do. I live in Portland, Oregon and see people warm up their cars for 10 minutes when it’s 50 degrees out. Totally unnecessary use of scant resources.

November 2, 2011 at 8:54 am
(66) snowboarderdude says:

I lived in Anchorage for 20 years and recently moved to the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan. I never warm up my cars and I drive them forever. My current main ride is only 12 years old, 168k, below my usual average.

You can get a plug-in electric defroster for the windows if your car lives outside, as mine did in Alaska, but the fastest way to get the whole car up to operating temp is to get in and go (gently for the first mile or two).

January 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm
(67) P. Davies says:

Look guys…I am a 54 year old recently retired Mercedes mechanic and guess what…being a mechanic does not qualify you in physics and thermodynamics. Turning a wrench means you can take them apart and put them back together…not a lot more. So when automotive engineering experts (degreed and qualified engineers tell you about catalytic converter block, fouled spark plugs, low rpm oil coverage and other evils of a cold engine at idle, shut the hell up and listen. We mechanics think because we can do a chore with some expertise, that we know what the designers were doing and that simple isnt the case. At least when mechanics do stupid things like this they can repair their ignorance…but dont spread your OPINIONS around, leave that to the engineers and the qualified. If your really a mechanic youll know that everyoneTHINKS theyre a mechanic too. Dont be that guy…

January 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm
(68) Chevyguy says:

I live near Buffalo NY and although I do understand what the article meant, but in my real world experiences I do let my vehicles warm up for a few minutes in our cold winter days. Try scraping thicker ice or packed snow off a cold windshield at 4am without the warm defrosters on high. It can be done, but life is much easier to do the same job 5 minutes later after a warm up. With modern cars running so much more efficient now compared to 25 years ago, I don’t see how the enviroment is hurting so much after a 4-5 minute warm up on frigid days? I thought the big diesel rigs idling used about a half gallon of fuel for 1 hour of idling. So how much gas is used in a fuel injected 4 cyl. car for 4 minutes vs. the convience of having a nice/safer enviroment to drive away in? My piston slapping GM V8 truck does NOT like to be started cold and then driven (it let;s me know every day). That alone is reason for a warm up for me. Four-5 minutes later, truck is warm and nice and quiet, and I still get 19mpg!

January 24, 2012 at 6:57 am
(69) Florida Lemon Law says:

Your car needs to warm up because it hs a lot of components that need and can only run efficiently when warm. The normal greatest wear period for an engine is the time immediately after start. After sitting for a while oil will not be coating wear areas in sufficient quantity and it takes a little time for the oil pump to move oil throughout the engine. Particularly if it is cold.

October 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm
(70) Tucker says:

This is a terrible piece of advice, the motors internal parts work much better once warmed at a low idle, raising the heat of any material too quickly causes wear, furthermore the oil viscosity issue. I admit more modern vehicles need LESS time cooling off, however the mass majority of us drive older used cars, or at least late model. Vehicles which have been through there paces many atime, and may NEED to warm up, and diesels especially due to compression based timing, those old ruged oxen need time to wake up. But saying jump in and go to a group who already would do anything to save a $ or two, is dangerous, somebody may listen to this advice to often, and spend ALOT OF MONEY because of this advice due to engine damage.

November 8, 2012 at 9:08 am
(71) Memphis Boy says:

When its cold my diesel needs to warm up if I don’t plug it up the night before. That’s a fact… Thermostat needs to warm up to 190 degrees and recirculate before the truck will run smoothly.

November 8, 2012 at 9:48 am
(72) Matt Wright says:

Memphis brings up a very valid point that I left out in my original discussion. If you are driving a diesel, your engine relies on a buildup of heat to establish the compression needed for the engine to run smoothly and at full power. So in the case of a diesel engine, warming it up is a good idea. Another plus to warming up a diesel is the fact that a diesel engine’s emissions don’t change significantly as it warms up, whereas a gas engine at cold idle will be spewing far more pollutants than when it warms up by driving at throttle. — Matt

November 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm
(73) dman says:

I have not been driving for a long time, but one thing I do know is that my 97 subaru does not get much better mileage than did a friends older-79/80-LINCOLN TOWN-CAR. And everybody today says that cars are getting better mileage, I don’t think so. An informative movie to watch is Who Killed The Electric Car, it sums up, at least to me why my newer car gets the mpg it does.

December 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm
(74) MamaMama says:

I have a 2012 Honda Accord and anytime I try to go when It’s cold; w/ out warming it up first it bucks slightly. That dosn’t happen If I let it warm a few minutes. So…..

December 28, 2012 at 3:08 am
(75) shawn says:

I only agree with frank . im only 18 and I know about cars and I dont care if you dont agree with me but warming up your car every morning is the best thing to do . I also live in new york and it gets pretty cold here and I have a 98 navigator and I warm my engine up until its actually warmed properly until I drive off . gas wise burning in the drive way I could care less because its me paying for it even tho I burn a lot of gas . cold starting and driving is a bad thing to me because you can wear out your rings and cause your vehicle to burn oil. not letting your vehicle warm up saves the engine also and maintaining it at the right time . ive been driving since I was 16 and you guys might think I dont know anything but before you say something check yourself on google and ask a mechanic before you say im wrong . i rather let my engines temp rise on its own instead of pushing it before my pistons pop out of my block .

January 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm
(76) Gypsy says:

Like any subject…everyone has there own opinion. As a ASE certified Master mechanic I have mine. I always tell my customers to run their car until the heater starts to blow warm. {winter} The engine at this point is ready to go. Although its not at operating temp, the fluids have been moving and parts are fully lubed. Yes, the new cars can take off as soon as you put it in gear because of the fuel management systems. That doesn’t mean you should on a cold start { first start after sitting overnight, winter or summer} The one point some said about the trans. and rear oils don’t warn until you move them WRONG. correct about the rears..Not about trans. The cooling lines in the trans. will warm the fluid when the thermostat opens and the radiator warms. This takes some warm up time but may be very important for an older car close to its end of life. The newer cars have syntethic fluids which do allow for quicker warm ups and better engine wear protection when cold. SO WHO’S CORRECT ??? no one person or factory recommendation. YOU must judge what you need for the year and type of car you drive. My suggestions are to always run for at least two mins. when the car has not been run for several hours. AND always warm up in bad`weather until your glass is clean enough to see out of safely. Thanks for reading ..Gypsy..

January 18, 2013 at 8:26 am
(77) andy p says:

it doesn’t take arocket scientists to know a few simple benefits of warming up a vehicle especially when cold out. if its 10 degrees out you start your car and drive there’s a good chance you could heat engine up to fast and crack the block. also in an automatic your transmission fluid should be warm so it shifts smoother if not warmed your putting unnecessary wear and tear on it. i watched on mythbusters a car on idle Burns about an ounce of gas an hour so don’t worry about wasting gas worry about blowing an engine or a transmission people.

January 28, 2013 at 7:45 am
(78) Adam says:

I don’t agree with this article at all. First, it’s based off an assumption that “modern engines” are all the same.

First, most manufactures have gone the route of installing an Idiot Light that tells you when the car is cold (a blue light) or warmed (no light). They do this for a reason.

Second, if you test drive any high-performance car, they will always warm it up before letting you take it out. Again, I’ll defer to the dealers that they know a lot about what they’re selling.

Third, there’s been a lot of talk about engine oil. Gear oil, on the other hand, is even heavier. I have an Audi S4 and when it’s not warmed up, the Quattro system binds and makes a horrible sound around corners. But if I warm it up for 5 minutes, it’s find.

Warming it up may decrease the life of the cats, but I’d rather place those than my drivetrain.

January 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm
(79) Autorepair says:

Adam, let me ask you this. Do you think that sitting in one place with the engine idling warms up your quattro system’s gearing? The only thing that heats that up is friction, which you don’t get until you are rolling. Just FYI. — Matt

January 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm
(80) Becky says:

I’m with Frank. He’s dead on. I live 15 minutes from Regina. If I don’t let my car warm up before I drive when it’s -40, the engine will lag when I need it to run properly (like going up a hill).

February 3, 2013 at 8:45 am
(81) cold in wv says:

As long as you’re not flooring it everywhere you go, you can get going as soon as you turn the key. This myth comes from an understandable place: Various engine parts and oil do take some time to warm up before they can operate at full capacity. However, an idling engine takes much longer to warm up, so it ends up experiencing far more cold-start wear and tear than if you just hopped in and drove it.

Think about it: When your engine is idling, it’s still producing power, so what difference does it make if that power is being used to move the car or just scratch its shiny metal ass? Additionally, there are other parts of your car that also need warming up, like your transmission and wheel bearings, and those don’t get any help until you actually get the thing moving.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_19704_6-car-myths-that-cost-you-money-every-year.html#ixzz2JqLr0U7Y

February 26, 2013 at 6:31 pm
(82) ken says:

what a bunch of ignorance!

DO get in your car, start it, situate yourself, make sure it’s safe to proceed (ie, clear the glass) and go.

DO NOT get in your car and go WOT, or put unnecessarily high loads on it while the oil is still cold.

the oil will remain below optimal temp for a while, even after the coolant has come up to temp.

March 20, 2013 at 9:48 pm
(83) sara says:

Hi. Just wanted to ask. Will it hurt my truck if i automatically turn the heat on as soon as i cranked it. Please help :)

April 25, 2013 at 8:46 am
(84) dink says:

letting ur car run @ 1000 rmp while it warms up does not affect your motor at all it affects tree hungers. mayby think about when you put the pedal to the floor and stomp it redlineing your gears, thats how you fuck your car up. runing @ full potential is how you wear a motor not sitting still

April 25, 2013 at 8:48 am
(85) derek says:

I would just inside and let your motor get temperature for a about 5-10 mins then when u get it to leave turn it on. if you turn it on when you first start the car it will just blow cold air untill the motor is warm :p

October 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm
(86) Vaibhav says:


In morning engine doesn’t run properly till it gets half heated.

during morning i have to keep on excessively accelerating so that engine becomes hot. If i stop accelerating engine stops and then it will not start… it take 7-10 times to start again

In morning during heat-up car is jerking, different smell from exhaust

1. Ignition coil, spark plugs, spark plug cables, cleaned fuel injectors
2. cleaned air filter, throttle and check all sensors too
3. Done engine treatment and added full synthetic engine oil

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