Warming Up Your Car In Winter
Nobody likes having to get into a cold car first thing in the morning, it’s just miserable. Remote car starters can help, especially if you remember to crank the heat when exiting the car the night before. Comfort aside, do we really need to let the car run for a while before driving it? There are a lot of misconceptions about this.
Cars actually warm up faster by driving them, rather than simply letting them idle. When it’s parked, the engine isn’t doing any work. Adding a load by driving, will generate more heat, and do so more quickly. Of course, letting it run for 2-3 minutes is still a good idea, to warm the engine oil before driving away.
Even better than a remote starter for warming up your car in winter is a block heater. They’re cheap, and can work on a timer to heat the engine for a couple of hours before driving. You’ll find them everywhere in northern cities. Now if they’d only heat the car’s seats too.
Idling can be deadly. Every year, we hear stories about someone who let their car idle in the garage, filling the enclosed space with carbon monoxide or sending the colourless, odourless gas that displaces oxygen into the house.
Letting your car idle for a while to warm up may actually cause problems. In some cities, it’s illegal. Environmentalists will scowl at you. They aren’t automotive experts, but the Environmental Defense Fund claims that more than 10 seconds of idling is just wasting gas and one should simply shut the engine off. They say that the vehicle uses more gas while idling than what is used to restart it. While that theory is up for debate, many newer cars come equipped with stop-start technology, and the engine isn’t going to cool during that short period of time.
Another environmental organization, the Hinkle Charitable Foundation claims that idling may actually hurt your car because it causes the engine to ” to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.” Again, they are not automotive experts.
One thing that is clear, is that idling wastes gas. Fuel is being burned, but the car is not moving. As little as 5 minutes of daily idling could add up to an extra $100 per year. It also adds a bunch of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at the same time. That exhaust add to air pollution, contributing to allergies, and increased rates of heart & lung disease, cancer and asthma, as well as smog.
Don’t leave your car running while running quick errands. We’ve all been tempted in winter to leave our car idling while we run into the corner store or grab coffee. It’s just not as effective as you might think, wastes gas, and is an invitation to thieves. Even worse than sitting in a cold car, is having that car stolen.
By Linda Aylesworth – car-news.ca