Should you warm up your car before driving it? It’s one of the more heated winter-driving debate topics, but experts say it’s a throwback to the days of carburetors. If you’re an old-school idler, here’s why you might want to rethink your position:
It’s unnecessary: Modern fuel injection, which eliminated carburetors and chokes, is much more efficient. With newer cars, the only reason to let the car idle is to get the oil circulating, but after 30 seconds that’s taken care of. Idle any longer than that, and you’re just wasting fuel and adding to greenhouse gases.
It’s inefficient: According to the Hinkle Charitable Foundation’s Anti-Idling Primer, idling forces an engine “to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.”
It’s dangerous: Regardless of how long you warm your car up beforehand, always remember this: Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odourless gas that builds up and can kill humans and animals quickly and silently, CAA notes in its winter driving guide. Similarly, always make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. A blocked pipe can force carbon monoxide back into your vehicle.
Bottom line: Vehicles do not need to sit and warm up before being driven. This is especially true if you are using synthetic oils. These oils do not thicken up in cold temperatures like conventional oil and as such, they flow better in colder temperatures. Even on the coldest days, you need not idle any longer than 30 seconds before driving away, although if your main goal is getting into a toasty warm car with a fully defrosted windshield, 30 seconds isn’t going to cut it.
Columns Everything you need to know about purchasing, maintaining and driving your car.
Become a member
Register now to access all features including:
- Save and ask friends to review vehicles
- Exclusive rebates & offers from local dealers
- Premium content, reviews and tools
- You can unsubscribe at any time. Please Contact Us for details.
All for free!
Already a member?
Registration 2 of 2
Welcome to Wheels!
As a final step we've sent a confirmation to your email address as a security measure. Please click the link in the email to complete your registration.
Terms of services
DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, TORONTO STAR IS PROVIDING THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS AND MAKES NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, IN ANY CONNECTION WITH THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEB SITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. TORONTO STAR DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTION OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THEIR CONTENTS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.
TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE, SHALL TORONTO STAR BE LIABLE FOR ANY LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF DATA, LOSS OF INCOME OR PROFIT, LOSS OF OR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY, OR FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY COMPENSATORY, INCIDENTAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES), EVEN IF TORONTO STAR HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE TORONTO STAR WEBSITES, THEIR CONTENTS, OR ANY WEBSITE OR CONTENTS WITH WHICH IT IS LINKED. IN NO EVENT SHALL TORONTO STAR'S TOTAL LIABILITY FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE, EXCEED THE AMOUNT PAID BY YOU FOR ACCESSING THIS SITE.X