To Warm, Or Not To Warm- That is the question.

Picture this, it’s the middle of winter and another day of freezing temperatures is predicted. You are looking out of the window, sipping a cup of joe in your cozy pajamas. Your car is covered in frost and it’s just a matter of minutes before you’ll be required to jump in and begin the rat race that is your life. Now, the question do you run out of your nice heated home and crank your car so that it has time to warm up, or do you just get ready, run out start your car and go?

According to a study in 2009 by Vanderbilt University, most Americans believe a car should idle 5-10 minutes before it’s driven. This is a misconception. Although once true, since the 1980’s, automakers have switched out carburetors for modern fuel injection systems. These regulate the ratio of air to fuel that reaches your engine. Carburetors needed time to warm up in order to get the right mix of air to fuel. Fuel injection systems rely on oxygen sensors.

The 1990 Subaru Justy, was the last new car sold in the U.S. with a carburetor. As a result, any car produced post 1990 needs only about 30 seconds to reach a ready to drive condition.

The U. S. Department of Energy states that both the engine and the interior will warm up faster when the car is driven. Idling your car also impacts both your health and your bank account.

Health concerns include:

-Greenhouse gas which is the biggest contributor to global warming. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, your car releases one pound of carbon dioxide for every 10 minutes it runs.

-Breathing in carbon dioxide especially for children, the elderly and anyone with asthma. Car exhaust has been linked to increased rates of heart and lung disease, cancer, asthma and allergies, according to The Madison Energy Group.

-Idling cars also release carbon monoxide which can be fatal if too much of the gas is inhaled. Never let your car run in an enclosed space.

Wallet Concerns include:

-Idling your car increases the amount of fuel wasted. Although cold weather will increase your fuel usage, but there is no reason to waste excess fuel/money by idling. Natural Resources Canada did a study which showed that when you idle a car for five minutes, it increased fuel consumption by 7 to 14 percent and a 10-minute warm-up boosted the percentage to 12 -19 percent.

The Hinkle Charitable Foundation states “idling an engine forces it to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.”

Soooo, the answer to the question is NOT to warm. Start your car, let it run for 30 -60 seconds to get the fluids moving and then begin driving gently. The engine will warm up faster and the exhaust system will reach temperature faster to make the catalytic converter work properly. You will have saved fuel and trip out into the frigid cold to crank your car!