Is it safe to warm up your car’s engine when it’s cold?

February 1st, 2019 by

Is it safe to warm up your car’s engine when it’s cold?

Have you ever wondered why you warm up your car’s engine? And if it is safe? It turns out that the average American believes that they need to give their vehicle at least 5 minutes of idle time before driving when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Most people know that cars and trucks get worse fuel economy when it’s frigid out- according to the EPA vehicles are 12% less efficient during winter.

Older cars which relied on carburetors as part of the engine did need to warm up to perform well. That’s because without warming up the carburetor would not get the right mix of air and fuel and would lead to the vehicle stalling out.

Starting in the 80’s the auto industry did away with the need for carburetors in favor of electronic fuel injection, which uses sensors to supply fuel to the engine and get the right air and fuel mix — thus doing away with the need to warm up your car. In reality, idling does nothing for your vehicle, but it does have several avoidable costs such as wasting fuel and emitting pollution. Natural Resources Canada ran an idling experiment freezing three cars too -18 Celsius and then driving them, they discovered that the longer the vehicle sat idling, the more fuel was wasted. “the test results showed that with a 5-minute warm-up total fuel consumption increased by 7-14%. With a 10 minute warm-up, fuel consumption increased by 12-19%,” according to the agency. Now plenty of us warm up our vehicle for comfort, we warm them up so the car will be warm when we get in or to make defrosting the windshield easier. If you are looking to increase fuel economy and help the environment, you should not warm up or idle your car or truck.

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