Stop "Warming Up" Your Car When It's Cold

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Harsh driving conditions in winter are already hard on your car, but you could be making things a lot worse if you're turning your vehicle on in the morning so it can "warm up" before you drive off.

Stop "Warming Up" Your Car When It's Cold
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If you're one of the many drivers who thinks it's important to idle your car — turn it on and let it sit — in these frigid winter months to protect the engine, you've likely fallen victim to a myth that may be doing more harm than good.

We spoke with former drag racer Stephen Ciatti — who has a PhD in mechanicsl engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison — about the pervasive myth that you need to warm up your car in the winter.

For the last 26 years, Ciatti has worked on combustion engines — engines that generate power from burning fuel, like gasoline — and currently oversees all of the combustion engine work at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

To get straight to the point, Ciatti said that idling your car in the cold not only wastes fuel, but it's also stripping oil from critical components that help your engine run, namely the cylinders and pistons.


Stop "Warming Up" Your Car When It's Cold

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How it works


Under normal conditions, your car engine runs on a mixture of air and vaporized fuel, gasoline in this case. When that mixture enters a cylinder, a piston compresses it, which — at the risk of oversimplifying — generates a combustion event, powering the engine.


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But when it's cold outside, gasoline is less likely to evaporate. Your car compensates for this initially by adding more gasoline to the air-vapor mixture — what Ciatti calls running "rich" — and that's where the problem begins. Here's an animation that shows how pistons drive the cylinders in your car to generate a combustion event

Source: Business Insider
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