The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Warm up Your Car in the Cold
I don't know about you, but it was drilled into my head since before I even knew how to drive that if it was incredibly cold, a car absolutely needed to be warmed up before it could be driven because if not, the car wouldn't drive correctly.
Apparently, we don't have to follow that rule anymore.
According to the experts at Popular Mechanics, letting your car idle and warm up before traveling could be doing more harm than good to the engine. And they're not the only ones who say that. Even the Washington Post took a look at whether warming your car up or not before you drive has any benefit for the car, and they too say it doesn't.
Stephen Ciatti is a mechanical engineer who specializes in combustion engines at the Argonne National Laboratory and when asked about letting a car idle to warm up, he told the Business Insider "That's a problem because you're actually putting extra fuel into the combustion chamber to make it burn and some of it can get onto the cylinder walls. Gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash oil off the walls if you run it in those cold idle conditions for an extended period of time."
This doesn’t mean that what you and I have always been told is a lie and that it’s never been necessary to let your car warm up- there was a time that it was. By the time the 1990’s rolled around, most vehicles began coming equipt with electronic fuel injectors, but before, cars had carburetors, and it was necessary for the engine to warm up in order to work correctly.
Unless you’re driving a car that was manufactured before the 1990’s, there’s really no need to let it warm up other than to get the inside of the car toasty, or to defrost the windows. But here’s something to memory bank- letting your car idle, even for just five minutes, increases your total fuel consumption by 7% to 14%.