Do You Need to Warm Up Your Car?

Posted on February 16, 2018.

When we’re learning how to drive, we’re all told to warm up our cars before we drive. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While it’s true that cars with a carburetor, which haven’t been made since the 1980s, need to be warmed up for at least 5 minutes, cars with modern internal combustion engines do not need to be warmed up.  

This does have a catch though. A modern vehicle with a combustion engine doesn’t need to be warmed up if you are traveling on residential road for 5 to 15 minutes. If you are blazing down the parkway at 70 miles an hour immediately after pulling out of your driveway, it’s wise to warm up your car, so that you don’t do damage. By warming up your car, we don’t mean letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Even 5 minutes is a bit much.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t recommend you let your car idle for more than 30 seconds because after that it uses more gasoline than it would have had the car been shut down and restarted. Obviously, using less gas and releasing fewer fuel emissions is better for your wallet and the environment.

Mechanics say you can let your car run for 30 seconds to 2 minutes without worrying, but after that it doesn’t do much good. Around 2 minutes should give you enough time to clear the windows of ice or fog. They note that your car actually warms up faster inside if you start driving.

There are other reasons why you’d want to warm up your car, such as comfort. But as stated above, it’s not necessary and you’ll be warmer quicker if you just start driving. You might as well take the time spend idling and use it to get to your destination that much quicker, since, unless your car was made before 1990, there’s no point sitting in a cold car waiting for it to warm up.