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car-coldShould you warm up your car Part I

I recently posted about whether you should warm up your car and i have found a few additional things, a few of them actually prove that warming it up will not damage it. (warning, contains explicit language)

But also too, modern cars don’t have oil problems like what some people say (your oil is like maple syrup). It may be true if you are not using the recommended oil for your car (where the oil is thicker) in which case you already may be doing damage to it if the car isn’t designed for the oil you are using.

So oil circulating through the engine is definitely not an issue, as the guy explained in this video, if you don’t have oil circulating through your engine by that time your engine is in trouble. But what he doesn’t explain is what the cold oil is doing to the engine. The oil needs to circulate (among other engine components, like the power steering, coolant) all these things need to work and for me to be able to drive and accelerate at a decent pace, i need at least 1.7x (1,700 RPMs) rpms. Most of the time it’s around 2x rpms. So waiting 30 seconds or waiting until the engine rpms settle isn’t enough for me. He doesn’t really exceed 1.5x (2x at the most) and most others will say don’t exceed 3x. Not only that he has a turbocharged engine. It may be best to just drive it cold and it won’t hurt it anyway.

One of the more major problems is that being in 32°F or below your defroster doesn’t work very well in the cold. It works much better when it’s warmed up, but it’ll take longer for it to work if you are driving the car and sometimes it won’t work right at all because all the air that is coming out of the vents can’t counteract the fog/frost forming on the windshield. I believe someone has said in a comment in a video or article somewhere to hold your breath while driving or breathe slowly. Why would anyone do this for the convenience of having a warm defroster is beyond me. While it’s true, less idling cars in the winter will reduce emissions and gas waste as the first video i linked proves, it only takes around 40 seconds to warm the car up so it’s not running too rich, driving off prematurely isn’t always the best. Some cars do not work right when they are cold and especially a critical component like the brakes or being able to accelerate moderately to get onto the highway is ideal. You need to get the car up to the speed traffic is moving on the highway and more times than not i see people not accelerating fast enough which causes either a slowdown in traffic or it causes the people on the on ramp to slow down and then it makes it more difficult to get onto the highway or tollway. In some driver ed courses they want you to gun it, at least 3-4x on the tachometer. I only need like i said 1.7x to 2x and on the highway i need at least 2.5x (up to 3x) but most of the time i can deal with 2-2.2x early in the morning as there is less traffic.

Much of the more common reasons why you shouldn’t warm up your car, is that people will start their car, with the key in the ignition and need to leave the doors unlocked so they can get back in,

which can invite thieves. Which is very true, which is why near the end of that video they recommend that you get a remote start. I do have one on mine, one that allows you to monitor whether someone is attempting to get into the car which then would signal to the remote and shut it down, causing the alarm to go off. This may be because my remote start is basically a feature of my alarm system. So if anyone is messing with my car, either kicking the tires or trying to push the car (rocking it) it may set off the alarm sensor and that includes trying opening the car door when it’s locked (which will automatically set off the alarm and the car will shut off). Also you need to have the key otherwise the car will shut off if you attempt to put it in gear.

It’s generally best to wait with the car, but as long as you can see it out your window to see if something is going on that’s ok too (and this is with the remote start). If you don’t have a remote start, then it’s best to wait with the car, it’ll be cold but again if you at least wait until the defrosters are working which is generally 2-4 minutes depending on the temp outside you may be better to drive off at this point. Some people won’t wait and just drive off despite there is no heat which will generally help the car warm up faster. If you don’t think your car is worth a remote start (or an alarm system), it’s definitely a good idea to consider getting a different car (and it’s not worth putting a remote start in if the car is on it’s last legs or you constantly run into engine issues) because you need to have the defroster working and everything mechanically sound before taking off. Some cars do not shift properly in the cold or they shift harder putting more wear and tear on the transmission and also it gives a chance for belts and other engine components to warm up adequately before putting a load on it. So bottom line, warming your car up is ideal in the winter so you are safer when on the road. Stuff breaks when they are at their most extreme so if something were to break it would most likely break when you are pulling out of the driveway with an engine that has only warmed up for 30 seconds.

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Snowed car.jpg

The long tired debate of whether you should warm up your car in frigid weather continues and there’s many articles saying you shouldn’t including this youtube video,

Articles and videos such as that saying you only have to wait 30 seconds if you have a car that has fuel injection (not ones with carburetors), but you only have to wait 30 seconds in any climate, according to some of these people.In the youtube video, it shows how a cold engine behaves, it’s running too rich and the excess gas is removing oil from the cylinder walls. Now i’m not claiming that they are wrong, but it seems counterintuitive that they would recommend you put on a load while extra fuel is being dumped into the cylinder chambers. They do not address that everything is spinning faster when you are accelerating (like belts, the engine components and transmission), so what is going on when you are driving off in a car that hasn’t been warmed up for a bit? It can’t be good. If you are driving off in a cold car the cold air would also keep the engine colder and it would be difficult to get the car up to a decent temperature.

It’s the same with these people that think that 3,000 mile oil changes are too soon. While it’s true that some modern cars don’t need it, not every car has an oil life monitor to give the owner an idea when to get an oil change. But that’s a different topic all together.

The best recommendation is to see what the manual states. Not only that you do need to have the defroster working so allowing the car to warm up 2-5 minutes is ideal. Even if you remove the snow or ice from the windows, they can still fog up or some additional snow may form if it’s already snowing outside. So having a properly working defroster is a must when driving. If it takes your car longer for the defroster to work, perhaps let the car warm up longer if needed. Allowing your car to warm up in cold weather is much safer. Engine components work better and if there is a problem, it’ll usually display on the dashboard, like the battery won’t charge or there is a problem with the ABS and other factors that the cold would impact on. It wouldn’t be good if you are taking a semi lengthy trip (like 30 minutes or more) only to find out the alternator crapped out upon the car starting up and the car is using the reserves in the battery as the alternator is the primary source of the vehicle’s power. Though the alternator or some other component could fail at any point, if the car needs oil or brake fluid you need to allow the car to warm up to detect whether there is a vital fluid in need of replenishment.

There are also engine block heaters, at least for those who do not own a garage, and storing the car in the garage during cold climates. Doesn’t do much when you are at work but the same applies as if you do not have a garage. Some people say that warming up your car is a waste of gas, you really shouldn’t need more than 7 minutes but some people like to be able to jump into a warm car (like having a remote start), but it is no way detrimental to the engine life unless of course the engine was poorly maintained, leaking or burning oil. According to these people that only take 30 seconds to warm up a car in cold weather it doesn’t harm the engine by driving off that soon and if that’s the case, warming it up won’t hurt it either. Most people who warm up their cars to get the heater working won’t change their habits, let alone those who are dead set that if you drive off 30 seconds after startup will have engine failures. With more car manufactures putting in remote starts, you might as well let it warm up for a few minutes, hop in.. get everything set up for the drive like the radio, seat and mirror settings and drive off.

Obviously warming up a car for 15+ minutes is a waste of gas and doesn’t really do anything, it’s not going to change those who wants to be in a hot car when they get in though, but seriously.. anything over 7 minutes to me is just overkill. Sometimes if i am driving and giving someone a ride and they are not ready in 5 minutes (after 5 minutes of warm up time, or whenever the engine temp gauge starts moving), i’ll shut the car off and wait until they are ready.

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