Should you let your car warm up before driving, is a question that many people ask. Years ago you might have seen your Dad, warming up the car in the garage minutes before driving it off. Warming up your car in winter does no harm is what you might be wondering. Some might also be thinking that it is an essential thing to do every morning. Well, let me tell you, that it's of no use! Yes, this might in fact damage your car. With the fuel injected engines, which most of the new generation cars have, warming the car is not any more required, as it used to be in case of the carburetor-equipped vehicles. The carburetors equipped vehicles need to be warmed up for required fuel input in the engine. Here's more about the same.
Keeping your car idle to warm up leads to a huge waste of fuel. While you keep the engine on, so as to warm up the car, the fuel does not burn completely and it condenses in drops on the cylinder walls. This leads the cylinder walls to wear off. This is caused because the fuel condensing on the walls washes the lubricating oil off the cylinder walls. Warming up further leads to drop in temperature of the spark plugs, leading to damaged plugs which in turn will cause increase in fuel consumption.
More the duration of idling, more will be the amount of pollutants produced. The modern automobiles have the catalytic converters which convert harmful pollutants into much lesser harmful chemicals, but at a very high temperature of about 400°C - 800°C (hotter than the engine). Well, this means that the catalytic converter will start working after a few minutes of driving off the engine and not by keeping it idle! Hence, idling just means that your engine is not enough hot for the catalytic converter to start working. It is not only known to increase the fuel consumption considerably, but also leads to an increase in the carbon dioxide emission.
Warming Car in Cold Weather
Well, in the winter this might be required in some cases, but that doesn't really meant that you keep your car idle for minutes. So, how long should you let your car warm up on cold mornings? Not more than 30 seconds. Yes, that's it and you can start driving off. Let me tell you that driving the engine is the best way to warm it up. An important thing to remember is that in cold temperatures, you must drive at a slower speed for a few miles so as to give the car some time to warm it. This is a great tip to be followed regularly to improve fuel efficiency of your car. In cold weather, the battery's starting power often drops. So to ensure that the car battery has sufficient power to start off the engine, make sure you turn off the heater, radio, lights, etc. before starting the car.
Well, you might forget that warming up the engine by idling does not help steering, suspension, wheel bearings, transmission, and tires to warm them. So the only way to warm these parts is to drive the vehicle. Rapid acceleration is a strict no-no till the engine temperature begins to rise, this will ensure proper fuel consumption. So what are you waiting for? Start the engine, defrost the windows, adjust the rear view mirrors, fasten your seat belt and drive off your car. Have a safe drive!