Do you really need to let your car warm up before driving in winter?

Do you need to keep your car warm in the winter? (GT)

(NEXSTAR) – Not many of us can deny it – the cold weather is here, with most of the country facing an Arctic blast just in time for Christmas. That means some of our cold-weather habits are back, like curling up in extra layers when we head outside, or staying indoors for as long as possible.

It might be time to leave one of those winter habits in the past.

We’ve all probably done it—crossing knee-deep snow into our cars, starting them, and letting them idle to warm up for a few minutes before hitting the road. But do you really need to let your car heat up?

First, it is important to note that idling a vehicle does not damage it. Idling still sucks gas, according to J.D. Power, but it probably won’t cause any other problems unless your car has mechanical failures.

However, the idea that you have to park your car when it’s cold is really just plain wrong.

It wasn’t always an old wives’ tale. As The Washington Post pointed out in a 2014 article, cars used to rely on carburetors, which needed heating to work well. If it’s not warm enough, it could cause your car to stall.

In the 1980s and 1990s, automakers moved away from carburetors and began using electronic fuel injection, which relies on sensors to supply fuel to the engine. These sensors, according to industry experts, do not need to be warmed up.

Modern cars “don’t need more than a few seconds to start up,” explains Sherwood Ford, a Ford dealership in Alabama, adding, “Modern technology requires modern methods.”

Even the US Department of Energy notes that the guidelines from most auto manufacturers say your car is ready to drive after just 30 seconds of warming up.

“The engine will warm up faster, which will allow heat to come on sooner, reduce fuel costs, and reduce emissions,” the federal agency wrote.

Leaving your car idle for more than two minutes can cause other problems. In addition to wasting fuel, it can cause pollution — as much pollution as a running car, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Idleness may also be illegal in your state. In Illinois, for example, state law says it’s illegal for motorists to leave a key-operated vehicle in the ignition, Nexstar’s WCIA reports.

When you pull out of your driveway or parking spot, just because your car is ready to drive doesn’t mean it’s ready for you to shoot. Instead, take it easy. It can take between five and 15 minutes for your car’s engine to warm up completely, according to Business Insider. Plus, slamming the accelerator pedal too hard right away can cause wasted gas, MIT mechanical engineer John Heywood told the outlet in 2016, and pose a safety hazard if the roads are snowy or icy.

So the next time you walk out the door and are greeted with a blast of cool air, don’t worry about taking the time to let your car warm up (unless your car is older than the early 90’s, of course).

#car #warm #driving #winter

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