(NEXSTAR) – Many of us can’t deny it anymore – the cold weather is here in much of the country facing an arctic blast just in time for Christmas. That means some of our cold weather habits are back, like airing out extra layers when we go outside or staying inside as long as possible.
Maybe it’s time to leave one of these winter habits behind.
We’ve probably all done it – drive up to our cars in knee-deep snow, start them up, and let them idle for a few minutes to warm up before hitting the road. But do you need to let the car warm up?
First, it is important to note that idling will not damage the car. At idle still consumes gas, according to JD Powerbut it probably won’t cause any other problems unless your car has mechanical problems.
The idea that you should idle your car when it’s cold outside is actually just wrong.
It wasn’t always a grandmother’s story. As The Washington Post explained in 2014 article, cars used to rely on carburetors that needed to be warmed up to work well. If they are not warm enough, they can cause your car to stall.
In the 1980s and 1990s, car manufacturers abandoned carburetors and began using electronic fuel injection, which relies on sensors to deliver fuel to the engine. These sensors, according to industry expertsno need to warm up.
Sherwood Ford, Alabama Ford Dealership, explains modern cars “don’t take more than a few seconds to start,” adding that “modern technology requires modern approaches.”
Even the US Department of Energy notes that most car manufacturers’ recommendations say your car is ready to go in just 30 seconds after warming up.
“During driving, the engine will warm up faster, which will allow the heating to turn on faster, reduce fuel costs and reduce emissions,” the federal agency reports. wrote.
If your car sits idle for more than a couple of minutes, it can cause other problems. In addition to wasting fuel, it can cause pollution – the same pollution as a car running Environmental Protection Fund. Idling may also be illegal in your state. In Illinois, for example, state law prohibits motorists from leaving their car running with the key in the ignition, WCIA Nexstar reports.
When you pull out of your driveway or parking space, just because your car is ready to go doesn’t mean it’s ready for you to shoot it. Instead, take it easy. According to the engine, it can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes to fully warm up Business Insider. Also, pressing hard on the gas pedal can immediately waste gasoline, MIT mechanical engineer John Heywood reported in 2016, and create a safety hazard when roads are snowy or icy.
So the next time you step out the door and are greeted by a blast of cold air, don’t worry about saving time to let your car warm up (unless your car is from the early 1990s, of course).
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