Warming Up Your Engine & the Environment

Professionals such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Canada and “Car Talk” agree – warming up your vehicle's engine before you start moving has basically zero benefit for your car. On occasion, pre-drive idling can help defrost your car to a slight degree, but even then, getting the auto moving is the ideal method to up the engine's temperature.

Despite all this, a survey of about 1,300 Americans found that, people believe that vehicles ought to be “warmed up” for more than five minutes when the weather is wintry. The results of that misconception are as follows:

  • 40,000 tons per day of unnecessary CO2 alone emitted into the environment
  • Increased personal exposure to pollutants while sitting in unmoving cars and trucks
  • Throughout the U.S., 3.8 million gallons in wasted fuel
  • For every car or truck, up to $183 per year in wasted fuel
  • For each car, up to $9 per year in unnecessary wear-and-tear costs

Historically, this idea wasn't wrong, however. Before fuel injection and electronic starters, automobiles used carburetors to blend air and fuel for the engine to burn. If a car was driven cold, that blend could be off, causing the engine to stall. Today, the vast majority of cars have much better technology. Besides saving gas during ignition, new mechanisms measure the engine temperature and make up for the outdoor weather. Now, experts say to run your engine for no longer than 10 seconds before driving.

When you stop warming up the engine, there will be many positive effects. Your vehicle will work better and get to a good operating temperature sooner. A car or truck that is driving also starts the process of filtering the tailpipe air more quickly. When you aren't driving, the catalytic converter doesn't start working for approximately twice as long, and the polluted air your car is emitting always gets into the cabin because, of course, you're not moving.

If you have questions about whether your vehicle needs to be warmed up, call the auto professionals at Christian Brothers. Skipping the idling saves time and is better for your auto, good for the environment and good for your budget.