Don’t Warm Up Your Engine by Idling in the Driveway

With winter comes the popular remote start for your vehicle. No one likes getting into a cold car freezing your buns off until the engine warms up. This is why remote starts have become such a popular feature. You can start your vehicle from the warmth of your home and wait until those vents blow that sweet warm air. However, is warming up your car by idling it good for your engine? Traditionally, the answer would be yes. But for fuel-injected engines, the answer is no.

That wise old tale about lubing up your car’s parts by warming up your engine gently is outdated. It comes from the days of carburetors. These vehicles needed several minutes of idling to get to a smooth operating temperature. On the contrary, fuel-injected engines adjust to idle perfectly even in sub-zero weather. Besides, idling an engine doesn’t build up heat like driving it does.

Letting your vehicle idle in the driveway for extended periods of time can actually cause damage via engine oil dilution. When idling, raw gasoline can seep into the oil and break down the lubrication properties. So, while you may have thought that idling your engine before driving it helps lubricate your cylinder walls, it can actually promote wear and increase oxidation of the oil.

If you have an old carbureted car, keep on keeping on. Waiting until your engine heats up won’t cause any wear. However, if you have a fuel-injected engine just take your time to scrape the ice and snow off of your vehicle and then drive it. Don’t wait for the engine to heat up. Even so, it is still recommended to go easy on the acceleration as the engine gets up to operating temperature. Going full-throttle right off the bat is still not recommended even with fuel-injected engines.