How Can You Warm Up Your Car The Fastest In The Winter? Drive It.

No, really, this is the truth.

2y ago


It's winter. You're freezing. You want your car to be toasty warm when you get to it in the morning. So you shuffle as fast as you can outside, turn it over, and let it sit there idling for 5-10 minutes while you finish your morning routine. This also benefits your car as it allows the engine to warm up and get to peak operating temperatures right? Kind of.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the only reason to warm up your car in the morning is to keep your butt warmer on your frigid sojourns and that your car really doesn't need to be warmed up anymore to operate optimally. Back when carburetors were a major engine component, you would need to let your car idle for around 5 minutes to get the engine up to proper temperature so that you could set off during your morning commute. With the advances made in engine technology and superior building materials to strengthen the engines themselves, this is now completely unnecessary.

Without warming up, the carburetor would not necessarily be able to get the right mix of air and fuel in the engine and the car might stall out. During the 1980s and into the early 1990s, however, the auto industry did away with carburetors in favor of electronic fuel injection, which uses sensors to supply fuel to the engine and get the right air and fuel mix. This makes the problem of warming up the car before driving irrelevant, because the sensors monitor and adjust to temperature conditions.

Idling in winter thus has no benefit to your (presumably modern) car.

So what would be the best way to warm up your new-ish car? Drive it.

Auto experts today say you should warm up the car no more than 30 seconds before you start driving in winter.

"The engine will warm up faster being driven," the EPA and Energy Department explain. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again than to leave it idling.

So idling does nothing for your vehicle, but it does have several big (and avoidable) costs [like] wasting fuel.


If you just have to be warm in the morning, just know that when you do idle, you're wasting your fuel and you'll more than likely get warmer, faster, when you drive away after 30 seconds.

Food for thought.




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Comments (102)

  • Sometimes I need 5-6 minutes just to defog the windshield so I can see where I'm going before I set off. Warming the car up is about more than just getting the engine up to temp.

      2 years ago
  • This article ignores oil viscosity, empty oil passages and the tolerances in critical areas like piston wall and valvetrain. EPA and evironmentalists have their collective panties in such a bunch about every drop of gas/diesel burned they ignore what is best for your engine.

    Why not care about what's best for your engine? Cuz it isn't their money.. It's yours.

      2 years ago
    • yeah and they forget that a well maintained engine will actually SAVE gas over the long run

        2 years ago
  • Some manufacturers recommend that you warm the engine before driving, even with fuel injection. Some even warn that driving normally before the engine has had time to warm up can damage the engine. New Subarus have a light beside the temp gauge, when the light is blue you need to limit the RPMs of the engine until the light goes out. AMG warns against driving immediately after a cold start. Yes, engine block heaters are very useful, however, they do not keep transmissions warm and a cold hydraulic pump (which is all an automatic transmission is) can be damaged by using it normally when cold. In more than 30 years of driving and owning cars, including a fleet of taxis, I have never damaged a car by letting it warm up. The fuel usage is negligible, and saying it does nothing for the car does not take into consideration oil viscosity. For many years Land Rover, even on their fuel injected engines, built in an oil pressure bypass in the oil pump housing. When the engine is cold, the oil is thicker, and to prevent excessive oil pressure and strain on the pump, the bypass opens to allow the excess oil pressure to bleed off without blowing seals or cracking the oil pump gears or housing. Do what you want, but I'll continue to allow my vehicles ample time to warm up.

      2 years ago
  • All well and good. But when that windshield is iced/fogged over, 30 seconds isnt enough. Sorry. Gotta let her idle while the thing I see through for safety becomes I know...SEE Through it.

      2 years ago
  • I live in a place that hits minus 30 to minus 40 C. usually for a solid week or 2 during winter. I'm not sure if you have ever had to start a vehicle in those conditions. Driving away with little warm up will make noises that will make you want to delete this article. no less then 10 minute's, more for a diesel. that's also with the block heater used. even then you have to go slowly. Differential fluid is not circulated so remains cold. I good go on forever about this. so many things. So many.

      2 years ago