Should You Warm Up Your Car in the Winter time?
Whether you just hate the cold more than anything or your great uncle told you a meandering story of why it’s important or isn’t important (you stopped paying attention), warming up your car is always up for debate. Experts are entirely divided on the issue, and there’s still two schools of thought. Convenience, mechanical integrity, and comfort all play into this decision, so let’s just answer the question: should you warm up your car in winter?
The most hotly debated issues of warming up your car during the winter deals with your engine and engine oil. Engine oil is a substance that helps lubricate all the moving parts of your engine and reduces heat to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. Depending on your vehicle, your engine oil has a certain measurement, usually 5W-30, 10W-30, or something similar.
This denotes the viscosity, or thickness, of the oil. If your engine oil is 10W-30 or higher, it’s thicker than most. During winter, the freeze makes this viscosity even more apparent, and oil can struggle to circulate through the engine.
If your oil can’t circulate your engine quickly enough, it can cause the heat to rise, severely damaging the engine and causing hefty repairs. This is the argument for warming up your car. It gives the oil time to warm up and adequately lubricate the engine before you hit the road.
On the flip side, critics argue that this isn’t necessary. It’s not that they’re actually against the idea, but they don’t think it makes a difference. Cars built 20 or 30 years ago had carburetors that required you to heat the oil, but today’s vehicles have more sophisticated systems that make warming the car obsolete to some degree. For low-speed commutes, you don’t need to warm the engine, but for high-speed Interstate travel, you may want to fire it up a few minutes beforehand.
Engine and mechanical stuff aside, the real reason to warm up your car is to get that heat flowing. If you hop in your car and it’s still cold, it can take several minutes before warming, leaving you a bit chilly. If you can handle that, good on you, but for most, it’s often unbearable. Fortunately, Toyota has several vehicles with a remote start. Right before you head out, push a button, and voila, your car is heated and ready for you to drive.
How to Properly Warm Up Your Car
If you don’t have a remote starter, don’t worry. You can still warm up your car properly, but you just might have to brave the cold for a minute. Put the key in the ignition and turn on the accessories. After about five seconds, the fuel pump should kick on, signaling that you can turn the car on. Idle for about 20 to 30 seconds to let the oil run through the engine, and after that, your car’s ready for the drive.
Armed with this knowledge, you can make an educated decision on whether or not you’re in the warm-up crowd or on the flip side of the coin. There’s really no wrong answer, but who doesn’t love a warm car?