The Real Reason You Shouldn’t Warm up Your Car in the Cold
It was drilled into our heads even before we knew how to drive that if the weather was bitterly cold that the vehicle we would be traveling in 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 vehicle's engine. Even the Washington Post took a look at whether warming your car up before you drive has any benefit for the car, and they too say there is absolutely no benefit.
As a matter of fact, you could be hurting your vehicle if you let it warm. 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 we grew up being told was a complete lie and that it's never been necessary to let your car warm up- there was a time that it was. However, by the time the 1990s rolled around, most vehicles began coming equipt with electronic fuel injectors, but before then, 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 1990s, 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. Here’s something for you to memory bank though- letting your car idle, even for just five minutes, increases your total fuel consumption by 7% to 14%.