Warming Your Car in Winter Can Burn a Hole in Your Pocket

0 Flares 0 Flares ×
by Scott Siegel

Winter is a hard time for drivers and car owners. It wreaks havoc on your fuel mileage. Chances are you are an unwitting ally to hurting your gas mileage. The wrong idea about warming your car up might be burning a hole in your pocket.

Most drivers are in the habit of warming their cars up in cold weather. They are under the mistaken idea that their car needs to warm up for a considerable amount of time to operate properly. Older vehicles may have needed to warm up but current cars do not.

Many drivers idle their car for 5 to 10 minutes in the winter to let their cars warm up. You should not let your car idle for more than 30 seconds. You need no more than 30 seconds of idling to circulate the engine oil before you can drive away on cold days

When you idle your car to warm it up you are burning gas but not going anywhere. When you let that happen you are getting zero miles per gallon. You may think that idling your car for few minutes or so is no big deal, think again.

To give yourself an idea about how much gas you would be burning by just letting your car idle for 5 minutes each time you start it think about this. Assume you idle for 5 minutes when you start your car in the morning. Assume you idle for 5 minutes again, sometime during the day when you start your car again to drive home.

That means your car is idling for 10 minutes per day. If winter is considered to be November, December, January and February, then winter is 120 days long. If you idle your vehicle for 10 minutes each day for 120 days then you are idling for 1200 minutes during the winter season.

1200 Minutes is 20 hours. Think about it, warming your car for only 5 minutes per start amounts to your car idling and burning gas going nowhere, for 20 hours. Can you visualize your car sitting and idling for 20 hours? Of course not. Then why warm it up for the equivalent of 20 hours of burning gas when it is completely unnecessary?

The best way to warm your car is by driving it. Most drivers don’t realize that in order for your car to operate efficiently other parts in addition to the engine need to warm up. The tires, the transmission, the wheel bearings and other moving parts also need to warm up. The catalytic converter on your car doesn’t function at its peak until it reaches between 400C and 800C. The only way to warm up the other parts of your car is by driving. The reality is your car needs to be driven to completely warm it up anyway.

To save gas and increase gas mileage in the winter one of the simplest things you can do is warm your car by driving it, not by idling. Not only will it save you gas and money but you will also be doing something positive for the environment. That warm car will stop burning a hole in your pocket.

About the Author:

Filed Under: Maintenance Tips


RSSComments (2)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Bernie says:

    Good tip but how to you de-ice your windows real fast in order to drive it within 30 seconds. Some of us warm up our trucks merely to let the windows defrost. In winter that can take 5+ minutes. Driving your truck with ice or snow on your windshield is dangerous. Just using a scraper in 30 degress or less temperatures without having the truck’s defroster on is a pretty tough task. –just my 2 cents.

  2. Jim says:

    I have heard the 30 second warm up suggestion before…the other morning it was -39 C and after 15 minutes of warmup I was still having to scrape the interior window of frost while driving at highway speed with my defrost on full…I do have a winter front as well…recirculate with air conditioning doesnt work…the only thing that helps out is a block heater, either way, we really are not conserving energy…just a thought…

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×