General Question

Austinlad's avatar

On very cold days, do you let your car idle a bit or drive right off?

Asked by Austinlad (16298points) February 2nd, 2011

Years ago we were told to let a cold engine idle before driving, but I’ve read it’s okay now to drive right off. I imagine it has to do with the age of the car, but what’s the conventional wisdom nowadays?

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25 Answers

Summum's avatar

I always allow the car to warm a little but especially when it is cold.

RocketGuy's avatar

Modern cars need only a few minutes for the engine to warm up. More important to clear the windows while warming up the engine.

Claire_Fraser's avatar

I always let my car warm up a bit. Although I suppose, it’s more about my comfort…lol I have leather seats, and it’s awful to get in an icy car and nearly have your ass freeze to the seat.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I always let my car warm up when it’s very cold, it’s just more comfortable for me.

SuperMouse's avatar

I don’t let it warm up. I can’t help but wonder the difference between the car running sitting in the driveway or driving down the street. I have been told that I should wait to turn on the heater until after the car is warmed up, so if/when I do let it warm up it is so I can turn the heater on.

mrentropy's avatar

I let it sit for a bit. Gives some time for the bun warmers and defroster to work. This morning I had fun watching the oil temperature take a long time rising.

mrentropy's avatar

@SuperMouse I don’t know if this still holds true or not, but I was always told to turn on the heater and front windshield defroster when the air is still cold so the windshield doesn’t crack by getting hit with hot air when it’s still cold.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I turn the car on and let it idle while I get busy clearing all the windows. When I’m finished I hop in, turn the heater on a bit, and go.

JLeslie's avatar

When I had Japanese cars I never did. My husband tells me with these German cars we own now we should. So I let it warm up for a minute no matter what the weather.

marinelife's avatar

Today’s cars don’t need to warm up.

“In my opinion, warming up a car wastes gas and adds to air pollution. In fact in Boston there is an anti-idling law that prohibits idling a vehicle for more than five minutes (there are certain exceptions). Certainly there are times when it makes sense to let your car warm up. One example may be that the windshield is frozen and warming up the car is necessary to scrape all the ice off the windows.

On a cold day, here is my warm-up routine: start the car, adjust the radio, put on my seatbelt, check the mirrors, and drive. The important thing is to drive “easy” for the first few miles. This allows the engine oil and other vital fluids to circulate and lubricate their necessary components. ”

The Car Dcotor

tedd's avatar

I have also been told by family who work in car design/manufacture/repair/etc that it is fine to just drive off now thanks to the level of craftsmanship that goes into cars now.

I usually let it warm up anyways because otherwise my inside windows fog up, and I am cold. (or there’s snow or ice that could use melting)

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Austinlad's avatar

Most enlightening. Thanks, all, for sharing your knowledge/experience—warms my heart. ;-)

Jude's avatar

Same as twig’nberrries (JGBPF).

Scooby's avatar

I always sit a little while to let the oil get round the engine, say thirty seconds or so but depending how cold it is as the oil becomes thicker the colder it gets…. If there is ice on the inside of the windscreen I can be sat there for ten minutes waiting for it to clear…. Even with the claims of some oils being able to stick to the engine parts helping reduce wear on start up, I still let the car idle for the minimum thirty seconds……. As a rule on a daily basis before setting off…… :-/

gene116's avatar

Hey, it’s 18 degrees in Austin today! Lettersit…

RocketGuy's avatar

Circulation of oil is the key with modern cars. Once oil pressure is up (approx. ½ minute), then you are OK to drive. But driving with frosty windows would be unsafe.

blueiiznh's avatar

I have a diesel and it once the oil pressure is good, i go. I also have no issue letting it idle for long periods of time.
No matter the petro used, it is a matter of good oil pressure. Cold weather fuel additives are also a help. If you live in cold tundra area, engine heater blocks are still a good option.

sonataking05's avatar

The fact that cars are made “better” has nothing to do with the start and leave immediately thing. It has to do with modern fuel injection. Starting you car a bit before you leave for the day is mostly based on if you want to use the heat right away. Back when most cars were carbureted and even with early fuel injection it was necessary the heat it up because cars had a choke on them to let more fuel into the engine and then they would idle down when it reached a certain point. Now a days the computer can advance or retard timing to stop the motor from stalling.

mrentropy's avatar

Do diesels still have those glow plugs? I thought they had to un-jelly first.

sonataking05's avatar

Diesels fuel has an additive in it to stop it from freezing. Most of the times it works. Yeah diesels do still have glow plugs Most have some sort of “plug your truck into the house” engine block heater so as to keep the engine block and the fuel in the fuel lines near the engine warm

Coloma's avatar

My car is newer but, I always let it warm up, running in the garage for 4–5 minutes. Mostly because I want to be WARM when I get in! ;-)

RocketGuy's avatar

@Coloma – careful not to breathe in the fumes!

Coloma's avatar


Oh yeah, I always leave the garage door up but still, pretty toxic at the back end. lol

Tamoosia's avatar

I just put the heat on all the way up, buckle up and drive off. I think that If letting the cold engine idle was the case with the older cars it’s not anymore. What’s the point in just sitting and waiting then? You can listen to some nice music of course! ;)

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