Many people have been led to believe that it is important to warm up a car or any vehicle before driving off. But this idea is an old one and mostly applies to old cars because older models would not run smoothly unless they reached the correct operating temperature. The truth is that at present, there is really no need to warm up your car’s engine before hitting the road off. It will only require running for just a matter of seconds to get full oil pressure throughout the engine, so you can go ahead and just drive off when you need to. Newer cars work this way because of the use of electronic fuel injection systems, which are designed to provide a perfectly combustible mixture and normal throttle at all temperatures all the time.
The only time when it can be considered important to warm up your car for some time before driving is during winter or icy climates in which you may need heat inside the car to clear the windshields for visibility and safety. This is the only situation when the additional use of fuel and risk of lubricant contamination are worth it. Aside from that, you can just drive away and stop wasting fuel.
Why do you need to warm up your car during winter?
1. To get the juices flowing
This is something that does not really sound so new to you. The engine oil tends to settle at the bottom of the oil pan if the car has not been used for a while. And it will take a while before it can properly circulate again. The cold temperature makes the oil thicker, which is why the car takes longer to start up. The oil is what reduces the rubbing of the metal against each other in the engine and that is why it is important for you to make sure that it is all lubricated.
2. Thermal expansion
Metals, just like other solids, expand when they get warmer that is why when designing engines, engineers take this also into consideration and allow some spacing to give room for changes in the size. This means that it is important for your engine to be at the correct operating temperature so that its bits and pieces will be in the right size to avoid friction and reduce the potential wear and tear.
3. Your tyres also need a warm-up
Before driving off, your tyres also need a warm-up, so it is not just your engines. Cold and hard tyres are known to have weaker grips, so this is something you must also consider.
Effects of warming up your engine
Cold fuel-injected engines run to compensate poor fuel atomization, which means that more fuel is required and is injected into the combustion chamber. Since fuel is a solvent and when there is excess fuel in the cylinder walls, the oil in the cylinders and pistons is washed away. When this happens, there will be less protection for the cylinder walls. The cold oil also makes it harder for the cylinder to be replaced.
This means that when the engine is colder for longer periods of time, it will be more prone to wear. Putting the engine on idle, though, will not really put so much heat into it, which means that the car will still stay cold for a longer duration. If it is really cold outside, you will only have to wait for about 15 to 30 seconds so as to make sure that the oil is flowing, but you don’t necessarily have to wait until the engine is warm. If you drive the car lightly, it will just get warmer by itself faster.
Generally, warming up your car or vehicle before driving is a leftover practice from a long time ago – from a time when carbureted engines were still the ones which dominated the roads, but that is no longer the case now. Second hand cars will have to warm up before driving or they will stall out. But, these vehicles are not very common anymore these days. Unless you are driving a 1970’s car, you can just go ahead to that cold car and get it moving.