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WootBot


quality posts: 17 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

December is a month full of festive observances, but one of the most important often gets overlooked: National Impaired Driving Prevention Month! Between all the holiday merrymaking and the terrible road conditions, it's a pretty good time to think more carefully about our driving. But what if not everything you think you know about the rules of the road is accurate? We have Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings behind the wheel all month to set you straight. Buckle up, check your blind spot, and pull away from the curb when it's safe and legal to do so.

The Debunker: Should You "Warm Up" Your Engine on a Cold Day?

In 2009, a study done at Vanderbilt University found that the average American believes that you should idle a car for more than five minutes on a wintry morning. I'm sure we can all picture some grumpy Midwestern dad heading out first thing to start up his car, and then shoveling the walk or finishing breakfast for fifteen minutes while his engine "warms up."

The Debunker

Unfortunately, this practice should have gone out of style with grumpy Midwestern dads. "Warming up" your car was a good idea back when there was a carbureted engine under the hood. Gas engines are less efficient in cold weather, and old-timey carburetors didn't adjust the amount of gas they were mixing with air to compensate for low temps. So stalls were common on a cold engine. But electronic fuel injection systems started to replace carburetors thirty years ago. Modern engines get no advantage of performance or efficiency from idling any longer than thirty seconds, says the Department of Energy, so you can cut that out this winter. (Unless your car is like thirty years old. In which case I apologize and should probably check my automotive privilege.)

Does it really matter if people sit in a cold car for five extra minutes all winter, as long as they're not late for work? Well, that 2009 Vanderbilt study ran the numbers and estimated that American idling accounted for 93 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That's 1.6 percent of the national total, and twice as much as the entire iron and steel manufacturing industry! It's also not great for your car, say experts. Cold idling means gas is unnecessarily washing away your engine oil, shortening the lifespan of many engine components. And of course you're getting zero miles to the gallon every minute you idle, so starting your car early might make the car interior more comfy, but it's not doing your mileage—or the planet—any favors.

Quick Quiz: What musical duo, which got its start "warming up" Saturday Night Live audiences before the show, went on to star in one of the top-grossing movies for 1980?

Ken Jennings is the author of eleven books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

mcobutte


quality posts: 20 Private Messages mcobutte

During a southwest Montana subzero winter,you do need to idle the car a few minutes(not 15) otherwise your windshield fogs over and you drive into other blind cars. Now if you are in southern California, no warm up needed

dbrouse


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dbrouse

Would the duo be "The Blues Brothers"?

moles1138


quality posts: 49 Private Messages moles1138

The Blues Brothers?

Edit: I got stuck reading Blues Brothers trivia on imdb before dbrouse posted. Got back too late.

rwcrosby


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rwcrosby

You're obviously not from a northern climate if you think the only reasons to earn up a car are for the engine health. One needs to warm up the engine to get warm air blowing on the windshield to melt the frost off of it so you you can actually see where you are going

specialbuddy


quality posts: 1 Private Messages specialbuddy

I'm still going to use my remote start. Cars don't just go when it's below zero.

bblhed


quality posts: 11 Private Messages bblhed

I live in Connecticut, I get up at 4:30 AM to go to work. If it is 75 in the morning or -5 I get in the car, start the car, check my mirrors, set my radio station and volume, look for other cars and then back out into the street then head to work.

I have been doing this for years and I do not have a garage. If there is frost on the windows I scrape before I start the car.

As for interior fogging I keep my AC, yes Air Conditioning, in good shape so that it pulls moisture out of the air to prevent fogging. If you own a car with AC it goes on automatically if you set the car to defrost for this reason.

My present daily driver is a 2005 model with 190,000 miles on it that I bought new. I drive about 30 miles each way to work and back and I will tell you that my car says it is up to temperature by the time I hit the main road outside my neighborhood five minutes from the house, but the car is not actually fully warm until about 15 minutes of driving at over 40, five of them are 65 mph highway miles.

People that are saying that they absolutely have to warm their car are doing it for creature comfort only, sugar coat it any way you want to but you are warming that car to keep you warm, not for any benefit to the car.

first2summit


quality posts: 16 Private Messages first2summit
rwcrosby wrote:You're obviously not from a northern climate if you think the only reasons to earn up a car are for the engine health. One needs to warm up the engine to get warm air blowing on the windshield to melt the frost off of it so you you can actually see where you are going



Dude - scope of the article is just the engine.

olcubmaster


quality posts: 33 Private Messages olcubmaster

Some would argue that the current point of warming the car is to allow the oil the heat up so it can move freely through the engine.

Experts at Penzoil have a different theory. Technical Advisor Shanna Simmons said it is a myth that engines need to idle on a cold winter day.

"While it does take longer for motor oil to pump in extreme cold temperatures, we are talking milliseconds, not minutes," she said. "Your engine will warm up the oil much faster when driving at full speed — not to mention idling wastes gas."

Info found at Accuweather.com

Sugar 'em up and send 'em home

brettlg


quality posts: 0 Private Messages brettlg

In Utah, in the winter, I don't start my car until after scraping the windshield. There is interior fogging, but, as noted before, but having the A/C on is the key. Plus the engine doesn't provide the warmth to clear all the fogging until it is driven on the freeway.

RebelTaz


quality posts: 42 Private Messages RebelTaz

My two, unasked, cents...

If you drive a vehicle straight away after starting it on a cold winter morning, without letting it warm up first... what no one has mentioned... is that driving down the road at 30, 40, 70 mph... the wind chill factor on a 10° morn suddenly drops drastically. Not so great for liquid cooled engines.

x51x2x2
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BearOfMyth


quality posts: 0 Private Messages BearOfMyth
RebelTaz wrote:My two, unasked, cents...

If you drive a vehicle straight away after starting it on a cold winter morning, without letting it warm up first... what no one has mentioned... is that driving down the road at 30, 40, 70 mph... the wind chill factor on a 10° morn suddenly drops drastically. Not so great for liquid cooled engines.



Wind chill only affects living things, not inanimate ones. It is the effect of the wind evaporating moisture from the skin, thus pulling energy (heat) out of the skin. If your car's cooling system has moisture on it's exterior, then you have problems that warming it up will not help.