When living in a cold climate, you might find it necessary to let your car idle and warm up for a little bit before attempting to drive anywhere. A warm car in winter is obviously a lot more comfortable, and warming up your car can also make it easier for you to remove frost and snow from your windows before setting off.
Most modern cars only need to run for a minute or two in order to warm up properly in cold weather, and you generally shouldn’t have to spend more than 5 minutes or so warming up your car in any case.
In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s a good idea to warm up your car when it’s cold out, as well as some techniques for warming your car up more effectively.
Why You Should Warm Up Your Car
We’ve already touched on a couple of reasons why you should warm up your car in the winter; it makes it more pleasant to be inside, and you can clear your car off more easily if your windows are warm.
However, there are other reasons why you might want to spend a few extra minutes to get your car warmed up on a cold day.
Warming up your car helps to improve its fuel efficiency and overall performance ever so slightly. When your engine is too cold, the fuel doesn’t vaporize as well. Warming up your car for a few minutes also helps your engine oil and transmission fluid circulate more effectively, which of course helps your engine and transmission function better.
What Happens if You Don’t Warm Up Your Car?
Nowadays with the introduction of modern fuel injection, there isn’t that much risk associated with running your car before it has completely warmed up. Your engine may be working slightly less efficiently than it normally would, but not enough to make a significant difference.
In truth, it’s only older cars using carburetors that really need to be warmed up before driving. Carburetors can’t atomize fuel as well as fuel injectors in cold weather, leading to uneven combustion and an engine that runs a lot rougher than it should. You’ll also get small amounts of unburnt fuel accumulating in your cylinders, which can cause your engine to wear down faster.
Warming Up Cars in the Winter
As we’ve mentioned, modern cars can benefit from being warmed up before driving in the winter, but the benefits are pretty small. With fuel injection and computers to regulate the flow of fuel on cold days, you can start your car and drive off pretty much immediately without having to worry about anything not running properly.
It’s actually better to run your car for the minimum length of time necessary to warm it up on a cold day before driving. Warming up your car for longer than is needed ultimately does nothing except waste fuel.
Warming Up Cars in the Summer
In the summer, however, there’s no need at all to warm up your car before driving it. Whether you have an older, carbureted car or a newer, fuel-injected one, your car should operate just fine within half a minute of starting it up.
At most, all you should do is try to drive gently for the first few minutes after hitting the road, to allow your engine to reach its optimal operating temperature before you start driving harder.
How to Warm Up a Car Engine Faster
If you find yourself frequently driving in frigid conditions, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to speed up the process of warming your engine. Indeed, there are a few things you could try that can help you out in this regard.
If you own a modern car, as most of us do these days, then the best way to get your engine warmed up quickly is just to get it out on the road as soon as possible. An engine that is running at speed will always heat up faster than an engine that is just idling.
If you have a garage large enough to store your car, then consider parking inside during the winter months. Even if your garage isn’t temperature-controlled, it will still keep your car at least a little bit warmer than it would otherwise be if you leave it outside.
You may also want to consider installing a block heater in your car, if it doesn’t already come with one. A block heater is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a small heater that keeps your engine coolant warm while it’s plugged in, which in turn keeps your engine a little bit warmer when it’s not running.
These days, it’s actually not as important as you might think to warm up your car before driving it in the winter. Thanks to present-day fuel injection, modern cars don’t have any of the same problems in cold weather that carbureted cars from decades past did.
Nonetheless, if you’d prefer to get your car feeling a little bit warmer and more comfortable on the inside before driving on a particularly frigid day, it’s certainly not a bad thing to do so. And if you often find that your car takes longer to heat up on a cold day than you’d prefer, we hope that our tips for warming up your car faster will be of use to you.