Are you the driverwho likes to warm up your car for a long time before starting your commute towork? If you are, hopefully you’re taking precautions to prevent car theft, forone. But, did you know that you could actually be damaging your engine?
Depending on theage of your car, letting it idle to warm up may not be doing your car any good.
How Cold Effects Your Engine
Internalcombustion engines create a small explosion to create power that turns yourpowertrain to turn the wheels. To get maximum power from that explosion, youneed just the right mix of air and gas (in vapor form) to be ignited by thespark plugs. Cold gasoline does not vaporize, therefore ignite, as readily.
How New Cars Handle Cold Engines
One solution to acold engine is to “run it rich,” which means you run it with a higher gasolineto air ratio (i.e. you use/burn more gas). Computer-controlled fuel-injectedengines do this automatically.
The problem isthat running rich introduces more gasoline in the piston chamber. Gasoline is asolvent, so the longer it is in contact with the piston walls, the more likelyit is to strip away oil. And we all know what happens when engines lackadequate lubrication—costly engine damage.
Your car will stoprunning rich as soon as the engine reaches about 40°. The best way to get it towarm up is to drive it. Idling just doesn’t generate as much heat…which is alsowhy it’s not particularly effective in warming your cabin either.
The Better Way to Warmup Your CarRatherthan let your car idle, putting it at greater risk for auto theft and damagingyour engine, start your car, scrape your windows, and get on your way. Thisabbreviated warmup process will ensure visibility and actually shorten theamount of time you shiver in the driver’s seat, all the while preserving vitallubrication in your engine’s piston chambers.