Warming up a car in the morning good for your bones but not your engine

It is that time of the year when many motorists think they need to let their vehicle “warm up” or idle before driving.

“The idea of idling before driving dates back to when cars were built with carburetors,” explains Rich White, executive director of the Bethesda-based Car Care Council.

“With new fuel-injection technology, complex computer systems and thinner synthetic oils, drivers don’t need to warm up their cars and excessive idling can have several negative effects, including wasting fuel, increasing air pollution, and causing extra wear to a vehicle’s engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs and the exhaust system.”

White warns that idling a vehicle longer than 30 seconds, even on the coldest days, shortens the life of a vehicle.

Bottom line, today’s modern cars are ready to drive in cold temperatures without idling. The best way to warm up a car’s engine is to drive gently at the start.

Many residents who go outside in their bathrobes on cold mornings and start their cars long before they are ready to drive them will tell you they are defrosting the windshield or warming the interior.

— John McCaslin

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