Popular wisdom holds that, during the winter, the best course of action to preserve your engine is to let it idle for a while before driving off. People also use this nugget of wisdom to get their cars all nice and toasty before heading off for their morning commute. This “wisdom”, however, is actually only effective on old cars with old technology from when engines utilized carburetors. It can kill your modern-day engine in the long term. Today we’re going to dispel the myth that letting a car idle before driving off in the winter time helps prolong its life.
Electronic Fuel Injection
An internal combustion engine uses pistons to compress a mixture of vaporized fuel and air inside the cylinder. This is then ignited to create a controlled explosion which powers the engine. The problem is that gasoline in a cold engine is less likely to evaporate in the right ratio to create the proper fuel/air mixture. In modern car engines, electronic fuel injection systems compensate for this, using sensors to determine how much gasoline to pump into the mixture. It pumps more in when the engine is cold and less when it’s warm.
Stripping Away Oil Protection
This can be a problem, however, because the extra fuel in the combustion chamber can get onto the walls of the cylinder walls and strip away the motor oil protecting the cylinders from wear. This can affect the lifespan of components such as the piston rings and cylinder liners. This extra fuel has an additional negative effect on your fuel economy.
The Fastest Way to Warm Your Engine
So you’re in a race to warm the engine quickly in order to reduce the wear of this extra fuel on your engine parts. Driving your car is the fastest way to warm the engine up to the optimal temperature. Idling does very little to warm the engine – the best practice is to start the engine, take a second to clear your windows of ice, and then drive away. But don’t put any unnecessary strain on your engine by gunning it right away! Take it easy during the first part of your commute – it takes anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes for the engine to warm up.
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Auto Stop Limited Inc. is happy to service your vehicle and make sure all of your maintenance needs are properly addressed and resolved. Contact Auto Stop Limited Inc. online or give us a call at (410) 467-7600 to get your questions answered today. To get more vehicle maintenance tips, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.