Warming Your Car Before Traveling In Cold Weather Might Cause Engine Harm

Winter storms are already affecting various areas of the United States as winter officially arrives.

In really cold weather, it’s typical for many drivers to wait a few minutes for their vehicles to warm up before getting on the road. Some automobiles even have pre-installed technology that enables drivers to remotely start their vehicles.

However, a VERIFY viewer is curious as to whether doing so would harm your car’s engine.


Can warming up your car’s engine before venturing out in chilly weather harm it?


U.S. Department of Energy Firestone Complete Auto Care Smart Motors Toyota in Madison, Wisconsin


That’s accurate.

It is true that warming up your automobile before a cold-weather drive might harm the engine.

What We Got To Know

According to Madison, Wisconsin-based Smart Motors Toyota and Firestone Complete Auto Care, warming up gas-powered cars before a cold-weather drive can actually harm the engine.

According to Firestone, if you’re one of the many motorists who believe it’s crucial to start your car and let it idle for a while before hitting the road in inclement weather, you might be doing more damage to your engine than good.

Stephen Ciatti, Ph.D., chief engineer for battery systems at PACCAR, told Business Insider in 2016 that letting your car idle in freezing weather might affect the life of your engine by removing oil from the engine’s pistons and cylinders – two crucial components that help your engine function.

According to Firestone, “less oil means more friction, more wear and tear, and a shorter life for your engine.”

Others may be trying to protect their engine because of outmoded advice, while some people let their cars idle to warm up the cabin.

Smart Motors and Firestone Both Toyota claim that the majority of vehicles built prior to 1980 need “warming up” during cold weather. This is so that the air-to-fuel ratio could not be precisely adjusted in cold weather when previous models of cars used carburetors that regulated the air-fuel combination inside the engine.

Carburetors couldn’t completely evaporate the gasoline they allowed into the engine in cold weather, thus some of it would remain in the engine as a liquid rather than being burned off during combustion. A carburetor needed to warm up before it could function correctly to avoid stalling out, according to Firestone.

But since the 1980s, times have changed. According to Firestone and Smart Motors Toyota, almost every automobile produced in the country today includes an electric fuel injection system that aids in maintaining the ideal air-fuel combination required for a combustion event, regardless of the ambient temperature.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most manufacturers advise gently starting your automobile in the winter rather than waiting for it to warm up because the engine warms up more quickly when it is being driven.

This means that your winter driving routine should include the following steps: bundle up, start the car, scrape the ice off the windows and mirrors, get in the car, and drive away! says Firestone.

Just be careful not to rev your engine or accelerate too quickly when you first begin driving in the cold.

According to Smart Motors Toyota, “this might put undue strain on your bearings and overflow the combustion chamber with gas, which can, in turn, shorten the life of your engine by miles.”

According to a blog post on the NAPA Auto Parts website, the aforementioned information does not apply to owners of electric vehicles because they don’t have conventional engines. Instead, NAPA suggests that EV drivers warm up their vehicles before unplugging them because doing so can help maintain the battery’s range.

“To warm the cabin, EVs must use electricity. If you get in a car that has a cold interior and start driving, the automobile will need to use some of its stored electricity to warm up the air within. This will drain the EV’s battery, giving you a shorter driving distance, according to NAPA.

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