03 Dec Warming up your engine is a waste of time
It’s a time-honored winter tradition to let your car run idle to warm up the engine.
There’s only one problem with that. From a mechanical standpoint, it’s probably unnecessary and may even actively hurt your vehicle. Oh, and also it’s illegal in Oregon, so really it seems there are two main problems here.
So what’s the deal? The short answer is that warming up your car’s engine is just a holdover from the days when most vehicles were built with a carburetor to mix in air with your fuel, a process that could use a few minutes when temperatures dropped. However, the automotive industry switched over to more efficient fuel injector technology in the 1990s, eliminating the need to let your car idle before taking a ride.
Some car professionals still swear by the practice, saying a warm-up allows time for motor oil to loosen up and pump through the engine. But it’s worth mentioning that technicians at motor oil giant Penzoil disavow that idea. According to them, a change in temperature might add milliseconds, not minutes, to the time it takes oil to circulate.
What most auto experts seem to agree on is that the best way to warm up your car is to simply drive it, starting off a bit slower than usual.
If that’s not reason enough to think twice about going idle, the law might add some motivation. Oregon has a law that bans the practice under the pretense of “failure to secure a motor vehicle” and though the supposed anti-theft measure isn’t often enforced, a passing police officer could very well write you a ticket for your morning routine.
With so many places to go, idling doesn’t make much sense anyway. Looking for a better warm-up? Head over to Scrubby’s Car Wash, where the staff is warm even when the weather is cold!