In the thick of Omaha winter, the common wisdom is that when you are gearing up go out in the cold and snow, you should start warming up your car.
We’ve all heard the idea: In winter, your car needs a little time to warm up before you can drive it. And that’s why across the United States, people who live in cold and snowy places — and especially those whose cars have remote starters — often fire up their engines long before they start driving. Heck, they might even start the car from the kitchen in the morning, and only then start the coffee brewing.
Contrary to popular belief, this does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it decreases it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons.
Warming up your car before driving is a leftover practice from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads. Carburetors mix gasoline and air to make vaporized fuel to run an engine, but they don’t have sensors that tweak the amount of gasoline when it’s cold out. As a result, you do need to let older cars warm up before driving or they will stall out. But it’s been about 30 years since carbureted engines were common in cars.
Thankfully, your car doesn’t run rich the entire winter. It only happens when the gasoline is cold. Once your engine warms up to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the car transfers to normal fuel-consumption rates.
So you might think by idling your car, you’re warming it up, which will prevent this problem. But don’t confuse warm air coming from your car’s radiator with a warm engine. Idling is, in fact, the root of the problem.
The fastest way to warm your engine up is to use it, aka to drive!
Of course, hopping into your car and gunning it straightaway will put unnecessary strain on your engine. It takes 5 to 15 minutes for your engine to warm up while driving, so take it nice and easy for the first part of your drive.
Yes, you’re going to be cold during the first few minutes it takes your radiator to warm up and start blowing air that feels comfortable. But you’ll be saving yourself fuel as well as a lot of time and money.
At Great Plains Auto Body shop Omaha and Council Bluffs, we’re committed to giving you an unmatched level of service. As a company that’s been family-owned and operated for more than 26 years, we’re dedicated to treating our customers as we would treat members of our own family. We’ll keep you informed throughout the entire repair process and make sure you’re satisfied when the job is complete. From estimating and detailing to collision repair and paint services, our ASE-certified mechanics and technicians make sure the job is done right and on time.