With much of the nation in the clutches of a bone-chilling cold spell, many commuters will be pondering the eternal question before they leave for work: Should you let your vehicle “warm up” before driving on a cold day?
The answer from the Car Care Council is a resounding “no.”
Today’s vehicles are ready to drive in cold temperatures without excessive idling, the nonprofit organization says.
The idea of idling before driving dates back to when cars had carburetors. With new fuel-injection technology, complex computer systems and thinner synthetic oils, vehicles don’t need to idle before hitting the road.
In fact, excessing idling can be bad for the vehicle – and the environment.
According to the EPA, “When a car idles for more than 30 seconds, it has several negative effects, such as increasing air pollution unnecessarily, wasting fuel and money, and causing excessive wear or even damaging a car’s engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system. Contrary to popular belief, idling isn’t an effective way to warm up most car engines.”
“Unless you are trying to defrost the windshield or warm the interior of your car, idling is not required for today’s vehicles,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “In most cases, idling longer than 30 seconds is unnecessary, even on the coldest days. The best way to warm up your car’s engine is to drive gently at the start. Remember, a vehicle gets zero miles per gallon when idling and the result is lower fuel economy and wasted money.”
The Car Care Council offers a free 80-page Car Care Guide that features several pages of fuel-economy and environmental-awareness tips. Available in English and Spanish, the popular guide uses easy-to-understand everyday language rather than technical automotive jargon, fits easily in a glove box and can be ordered free of charge by visiting the Car Care Council website.
The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.