Warming up your engine is an age-old practice among daily commuters. Supposedly, letting the engine idle for a minute or two prolongs its life. Is there really any truth behind this though? Our maintenance crew has been asked this question numerous times. Based on our expertise, they answer that engine warming is NOT a good idea.
Why Warming Up Your Engine Is Unnecessary
Constantly letting a cold engine idle can actually be counterproductive because it gradually strips oil away from the engine’s pistons and cylinders.
This is what occurs inside an internal combustion engine as it idles: when started, the pistons compress air and vaporized fuel inside the cylinder. The spark plug ignites this mixture is ignited, creating a miniature explosion that supplies power to the drive train.
Here’s the problem: when the engine is cold, the gas may not evaporate completely as it combines with the air. For more recent cars with an electronic fuel injection, there are sensors that detect this and compensate by adding more gas to the mixture.
When there is excess fuel in the chamber, some of it condenses onto the cylinder walls and strips away the lubricating oil. When the lubricating oil is gone, components like the cylinder liners and piston rings will wear prematurely. On top of that, extra fuel is also used, which means more trips to the gas station.
What You Should Actually Do
Warming up your car isn’t necessary, not in the winter and definitely not in the summer. The engine will warm up as needed once you’re on the road. The thermosat and radiator will then keep the engine operating at the proper tempeature. Once you start the engine, go ahead and drive off.
For more information on the subject of engine idling and performance, take your car to Chuck’s Auto Repair for a checkup. This is especially the case if the check engine light has come on before, even if only briefly. As for warming up your engine, you can stop doing that.
Edited by Justin Vorhees
Full Engine Diagnostics and Checkup
Serving the Motorists of Seattle and the Greater Area