Automotive Myth: Warming Up Your Engine


| 1/19/2017 3:34:00 PM


Tags: cars, fuel efficiency, cold weather, Bobbi Peterson,


Photo by Fotolia

On a cold morning, do you make it part of your routine to go out and start your car to give it time to warm up before you get in and leave your house? If so, you may want to reconsider this habit. It’s a common misconception that cars need to heat up before driving, and you may actually be doing more harm than good.

Where Did the Myth Come From?

This is wisdom handed down from parent to child, sometimes with stern warnings to give your car time to warm up before driving it anywhere or you’ll ruin the engine. It goes back to the days of the carburetor engine.

Carburetor engines mix air and gasoline to create a vaporized fuel that runs the engine. It was necessary to let these older cars warm up or you would end up with a car that stalled out after leaving your driveway.

Now that fewer cars sport carburetor engines, the old wisdom about warming up the car doesn’t apply, but many people still believe this common myth about cars. In modern times, unless you have a car that was made around or before 1980 that has a carburetor engine, you don’t need that idling time to let the engine get ready to drive.

Modern engines are known as electronic fuel injection engines, and they have their own sensors that help the engine get the right mixture of gasoline and air to help it combust. Any car built post-1990 only needs about 30 seconds to reach optimal driving conditions. Letting a car sit idle for longer than that may make the interior warm, but does nothing for the engine itself.




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