The Importance of Warming Your Car Before Driving | YourMechanic Advice

The Importance of Warming Your Car Before Driving

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Many people feel that it’s important to warm a vehicle up before driving off. This has long been the dominant school of thought, dating from when cars had carburetors and many would not run cleanly or respond properly until they reached the correct operating temperature. There was also a belief among owners of cars with aluminum engines that suggested the metal be warmed up before normal driving because of the different coefficient of expansion between steel and aluminum components.

No need to warm up

The truth is that nowadays there is no need whatsoever to warm your car’s engine before driving off. A few seconds of running is enough to get full oil pressure throughout the engine, so you can simply drive off as you would on a summer's day. This has been made possible largely through the global adoption of electronic fuel injection systems, which are calibrated to provide a perfectly combustible mixture at all temperatures, and to provide normal throttle response at all times.

It's OK to drive away

In fact, there’s a strong argument in favor of driving off immediately, and you will find that advice in most car owners’ manuals these days. You see, an engine requires very little fuel to maintain an idle speed, which means there is not much heat being generated. Without much heat, metal in the engine does not expand quickly, and the engine takes longer to achieve its design tolerances—the optimal space between moving parts. As a result, the cold engine experiences a high level of unburned fuel mixture “blow-by,” where gases blow past the piston rings and down into the oil sump, where they dilute the lubricant.

Driving away puts the engine under load, and much more fuel is needed to propel what is, after all, a pretty heavy machine. With more fuel burned in a shorter time, the engine’s components heat up faster, expand quickly, and reach their design tolerance—all of which cuts cylinder blow by to a fraction. Of course, we would not advise full-throttle, high-RPM use on a cold engine, nor would we condone lugging it. But that’s just common sense.

The only reasons we can think of why you’d want to warm your car up for some time before driving would be in icy climates, where you might want heat inside the car along with warm defrosting air to clear windshields for sufficient and safe visibility. In that situation, the additional use of fuel and risk of lubricant contamination may be worth it. Other than that, you can stop wasting fuel and time and simply get on your way.


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Chris

21 years of experience
1861 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper Clubman - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Silverado, California
He arrived early, went straight to work, and it should have been quoted higher as it’s a Mini which takes longer than the average break job. He didn’t try to get more than the quoted amount. He even set out to replace a running light for me when he was finished. I thought there would hard sales telling me I needed more work but there wasn’t. Because he didn’t try to sell me more work, I will use him again. When I hired a mechanic I don’t want a salesman. 
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Irvine, California
Chris again has provided great Service. Everything was great. I was very happy with the work and will definitely have him return for any other work.

Bryant

11 years of experience
408 reviews
Bryant
11 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

Edmar

21 years of experience
184 reviews
Edmar
21 years of experience
Chrysler 200 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Edmar always does a very good job. He's done a few different things on my car the last two years. Each job was performed very fast and top quality. Thank you once again.

Mazyar

7 years of experience
255 reviews
Mazyar
7 years of experience
Jaguar XF - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
He was early, courtesy and actually helped me save some money since i didn't need all the work that i thought i needed done. Honest guy. Very knowledgeable. Great attitude.

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