Most people are confused if they should idle the car or not.
Millions of automobile owners still have a habit of warming up
their cars in winter and even other seasons assuming they must idle the engine for several minutes before driving. This popular belief is a myth according to automotive expert Doug Bethune that corrects this misconception and tells us how to warm up your car in a scientific and economic way.
Older cars were made with carburetors that needed to be warmed up to have an adequate mix of air and fuel in the engine. Nowadays, with the development of technology, modern cars are fuel-injected and system-intelligent, they are ready for start and drive away within 30 seconds. In this way, the engine and the oil are actually both warmed up faster and less harmful to the engine. On the contrary, idling the car does not really warm up the engine. Also, there is no doubt that idling the car is wasting fuel and money. It generates pollution at the same time, such as the greenhouse gas emission. According to Natural Resources Canada, one litre of used gasoline by a vehicle can produce 2.3 kilograms of CO2 which directly links to climate change.
Then, what is the correct way?
Warming up your car is correct, but not by idling. After starting the car, do not drive it immediately, wait a few seconds until the engine idles down to between 1000 to 1500 r/s, typically about 30 seconds. Start driving slowly and avoid sudden heavy stress on the accelerator, that is all that is needed to warm up your car.
Don’t forget your windows! Bethune reminds you that it’s essential to defrost all the windows and side-view mirrors until they are free of frost. You are ready to go when you have 360 degree visibility. No need to worry about the interior temperature of the car as it might feel cold initially, it gets warmer and warmer when you are driving the car on the road.
Another related subject for winter car maintenance is the
importance of an oil change. In winter, it’s recommended to change the oil based on time instead of kilometers or mileage. If you only drive a short distance in a cold climate, the oil is too cold to boil out the vapour. The vapour turns back and mixes with the oil and then forms into acids that corrode the bearings. The solution is to run your vehicle about 50 kilometres or more. With enough time and heat, the oil can boil the vapour out and does no harm to itself.
In conclusion idling your car to warm it up does more harm than good and damages the environment. Regular oil changes and maintenance are equally important no matter what season your driving in. If you would like to speak with one of our trained automotive technicians, please call 250-385-7033 or contact us today.