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Your car is COLD… How long should you warm it up?

It’s been common knowledge (for at least as long as I can remember) that you’re supposed to warm up the car for a few minutes when it’s really cold out.  Well, just because it’s an old practice, it must be the correct thing to do, right? You might be surprised to hear that letting your car idle in the cold weather really doesn’t do much to benefit the vehicle.  In fact, it may actually by hurting the vehicle if you let it sit in the cold too long.

Modern vehicles are built with electronic fuel injection, and they’re designed for colder weather.  The vehicle’s computer will leave the fuel injectors open a little longer when the engine is cold, and as the engine warms up, the injectors will return to normal.  This means that until the car is warm, it’s using more fuel than it normally would.

If you’re car is older, you could actually do a little damage to the car.  If your car is equipped with a carbureator, an extended idle session could dilute the oil with excess fuel.

As long as your vehicle has no problems starting in the cold, the best way to heat up that engine is to put it in gear and go.  Just go gently- driving your vehicle gently will warm it up much faster than letting it idle.  Modern engines warm up pretty fast, so your car will reach max fuel efficiency and deliver the best performance more quickly. If it’s really cold out, letting the engine run for a minute or so to thin out the oil is fine, but you really don’t need to wait any longer than that.  If you let your car idle in the cold, you’re just burning gas and money.

Of course, if your windshield is covered with a thick layer of ice that you need to melt off, let the defroster get up to temperature.  No sense in just scraping a little hole to see out of and being unsafe.

If your vehicle fails to heat up after you start driving it, or maybe the heater makes funny smell or a strange noise, stop by the service department at the Woody’s Automotive Groupand chat with a qualified service techician.