I stumbled upon this article from Verifythis.com. At first, I wasn’t going to review it because
having grown up in Michigan, we all would regularly go out and start the car and let it run and
get warm while we went back in the house to avoid the cold in winter. No one ever talked
about harming the engine and, in fact, the common knowledge at the time was that it was
better for the car to warm up a bit before driving. Turns out, however, that times have
changed and car engines with them. Verifythis.com reports:
Yes, warming up your car before driving in cold weather could cause long-
term damage to the engine. Most vehicles built after 1980 no longer need
to warm up before driving, and experts say driving after 30 seconds to a
minute after starting your car is a best practice. It’s true that warming up gas-powered vehicles before driving in cold weather can cause damage to
the engine, according to Firestone Complete Auto Care and Smart Motors
Toyota, a dealership based in Madison, Wisconsin.
“If you’re one of the many drivers who thinks it’s important to turn on your
car and let it sit for a bit before hitting the road in wintry weather, you could
be doing your engine more harm than good,” Firestone says.
Letting your car idle in cold temperatures can shorten the life of your
engine by stripping away oil from the engine’s pistons and cylinders — two
critical components that help your engine run, Stephen Ciatti, Ph.D.,
principal engineer for battery systems at PACCAR, told Business Insider in
Gas-powered cars need oil to keep their engines lubricated. When you start
a car, an oil pump circulates the oil in less than a minute. But if you let your
car idle to warm up the cabin, the oil can get stripped away.
Chuck’s Auto Repair explains “Constantly letting a cold engine idle can
actually be counterproductive because it gradually strips oil away from the
engine’s pistons and cylinders… Here’s the problem: when the engine is
cold, the gas may not evaporate completely as it combines with the air. For
more recent cars with an electronic fuel injection, there are sensors that
detect this and compensate by adding more gas to the mixture. When
there is excess fuel in the chamber, some of it condenses onto the cylinder
walls and strips away the lubricating oil. When the lubricating oil is gone,
components like the cylinder liners and piston rings will wear prematurely.”
“Less oil means more friction, more wear and tear, and a shorter life for
your engine,” Firestone says.
Just make sure you don’t accelerate too fast or rev your engine too much
in the first few moments you start driving in the cold.
“This can add unwanted strain to your bearings and flood the combustion
chamber with gas, which, in turn, will take miles off your engine’s life,”
Smart Motors Toyota says.
For owners of electric vehicles, which don’t have traditional engines, the
above information doesn’t apply, according to a blog post on NAPA Auto
Parts’ website. Instead, NAPA advises EV owners to warm up their cars
before they’re unplugged because it can help preserve the battery range.
“EVs have to draw on electricity to warm the interior. If you enter a car with
a cold cabin and begin driving, the vehicle will need to take from its stored
electricity to bring the inside air to a pleasant temperature. This will tax the
EV’s battery and leave you with less driving range,” NAPA says.
The entire article, in video form, can be found at the Verifythis.com website: