Should I warm up my car in the winter before I start driving?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs on Friday, January 8th, 2021 at 8:24 am
person cleaning snow off car

Starting Your Car to Warm It Up: Good Practice or Myth?

If you’re here, then you’ve got a simple question:

Should you warm up your car in the winter before you start driving? Well, that depends on the type of engine in your vehicle. Take a look.


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person sitting in car covered in snow

Warming up Your Gas Engine When It’s Cold

Experts recommended that you don’t let your car idle for longer than 30 seconds before you start driving if you have a combustion engine. Idling your vehicle in winter doesn’t do much more than waste fuel in that case. Also, your vehicle’s heater uses engine heat to warm the cabin. So, if your vehicle’s engine is cold and idling, it’s just blowing cold air. Not only that, but the engine will warm up much more quickly while driving. Prolonged idling is actually worse for your vehicle than repeatedly turning it on and off, too.

Where Does This Myth Come From?

Before the 1980s, this wasn’t a myth. Back then, vehicles used carburetors to mix gas and air and needed to warm up in order to work correctly. Starting in the 1980s, though, direct-injection combustion became the standard, which doesn’t need the engine to be at a certain temperature to work properly.

How About Diesel Engines?

Diesel engines, on the other hand, need time to warm up before you drive. When temperatures get below 40°F, diesel fuel starts becomes more viscous, almost syrupy if it’s cold enough. The colder the temperatures, the thicker the fuel gets. Fuel of that consistency isn’t good for the engine. That’s one of the reasons diesel block heaters are important.

Is Your Vehicle Not Starting Right?

Is your vehicle not starting up? Or maybe it’s making strange noises? Schedule a service appointment to get it checked out. And make sure to check out our Service Specials in order to get the best prices possible.

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