Should you be warming up your car in the cold? Scott Eisen / Stringer

Everyone has their own opinion on warming up the car during winter. How long should it be warmed up? Is it better to just drive off immediately?

Obviously, the car needs to be warm before much load is put on the engine. Cold oil does not protect engine components as well as it could and a cold engine also pollutes more and is less efficient than when running at optimal temperature.

There is no question a car works better and wears slower when warm, but the arguments come when discussing the best method of warming the car.

Some reports claim that warming up at idle actually takes longer and could cause more damage than just driving away and that it is better to warm it up quicker that way. Others suggest the car should not be moved until the car is totally up to operating temperature.

If we’re going to trust anyone, it’s the Team O’Neil Rally School guys.

They say, if it’s possible to drive extremely gently for the first few minutes, the car will warm up faster and will suffer no more than if you let it warm up. However, if you don’t have that luxury, like if you live in a particularly hilly region or need to merge onto a busy street soon after setting off, warming the car for a few minutes at idle is a good way to go.

We ourselves prefer to start the car and let it idle for a short amount of time before setting off as gently as possible until the car’s temperature is up before driving normally.

Related: You need ice in your veins to test the ultimate driving school

Anthony Brown About the author:
Anthony Brown's crowning achievements are rebuilding a $500 Honda VFR and getting rid of his wife's beige Camry. He has owned nine cars in the last ten years, none of them automatic.
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