Warm Up Your Car In Winter

Common questions in the winter. Should I warm up the car before driving? And for how long?

If you use your car infrequently let the car run for a few minutes before moving. This warms up the cold, thick oil and protects your engine from damage.

When starting a vehicle in cold weather allow the engine to idle for no more than 30 seconds before driving off to insure proper oil flow and lubrication. Older vehicles may need a little longer warming up time. Only warm long enough to prevent stalling when driving and that the windshield is defogged.

A cold engine will warm up faster when the vehicle is being driven than when idling. In unusually cold temperatures drive at a slower speed for a few miles to give the car time to warm up.

Use a block heater when the winter temperature drops to -5F or below. A block heater helps to keep oil and coolant warm, makes the vehicle easier to start and reduces gas use by as much as ten percent. Turn the timer on one to two hours before planning to start vehicle. Use a timer for convenience.

Never warm car in a closed garage. Drive car out of garage as soon as motor starts. There is not enough ventilation to remove carbon monoxide in even an open garage.

Never leave a car running alone. Car thieves watch for these cars that they call puffers.

Warming up the vehicle before driving off reduces moisture condensation on the inside windows.

At low temperatures the battery's starting power drops. Turn off the heater, radio, lights, etc. before starting the car so all the power can be directed to the engine to start. Be prepared with jumper cables in your trunk for a jump start if necessary. Even better, a self-charge auto jumper that plugs directly into the lighter can be a lifesaver.

For more information on battery chargers visit:


Author: Marilyn Pokorney
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