I think that all of us have done it at some point or another if we live in the colder climates. When we go outside and the weather is freezing, the first thing that we do is turn on the car and get busy clearing the windshield. Going out to warm up the car is just a way of life for many of us.
We all understand why we warm up the car. When we get in to head off to work or the store, we want the temperature to be comfortable inside. It also has a lot to do with the fact that many of us have been told for years that warming up the car is important to help protect the engine.
If that is what you have been doing, you may want to rethink your routine. Not only is it bad on your car, it has a negative impact on your wallet.
According to Business Insider, a drag racer that ended up getting his doctorate in mechanical engineering wanted to put this theory to the test. He considered it to be a “myth” that warming your car up in the winter was the best choice.
The article said:
“In a nutshell, an internal combustion engine works by using pistons to compress a mixture of air and vaporized fuel within a cylinder. The compressed mixture is then ignited to create a combustion event-a little controlled explosion that powers the engine.
When your engine is cold, the gasoline is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and vaporized fuel for combustion. Engines with electronic fuel injection have sensors that compensate for the cold by pumping more gasoline into the mixture. The engine continues to run rich in this way until it heats up to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.”
The reason why warming up your car in the winter is a problem is because extra fuel gets into the combustion chamber, and it may get on to the cylinder walls. It ends up washing oil from the walls of the cylinder, and that can affect the lubrication and the life of your cylinder liners and piston rings.
When you run the heat in your car, the engine doesn’t get warm as a result. The heater is there to warm the inside of your car, but driving your car is what warms up the engine effectively. I’ll be the first one to admit that driving around in a cold car is one of those experiences we don’t want to have regularly. If you can just put up with it for a few minutes, however, the cold air will be a distant memory.
You also need to think about how quickly you drive when you are driving a cold car. Don’t punch the gas for at least the first five minutes or so because you will be burning gas less effectively. When you are idling your car, you are wasting gas, but if you’re driving it hard while it’s cold, you are also wasting gas.
According to the Business Insider article: “Before 1980, carburetors were the heart that kept car engines pumping. From the 1980s onward, however, electronic fuel injection took over and is still what powers today’s car engines. The key difference is that electronic fuel injection comes with a sensor that feeds the cylinders the right air-fuel mixture to generate a combustion event. Carburetor-run cars lacked this important sensor.”SKM: below-content placeholder