Heating Your Car Before Driving: Needed or Not?

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It is recommended to start your car and have it run for just 30 seconds before you drive.
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It is officially starting to cool down in many parts of the country, with winter weather hitting many states, especially Nebraska. The weather is overall much warmer than it normally is, but we are still experiencing colder weather than other times of the year. That means it is the time of year when roads are covered in snow and/or icy and weather alerts are often in effect. This also means that we are in the season of sitting in your car for a while as you heat it up. Or are we? Is this commonly done step in winter driving and car maintenance actually necessary? Let us deep dive into this together to find out!

How long do I need to sit in the car for it to heat up?

It turns out that, despite many people’s perspective, you actually do not need to heat your car before driving it! For just about as long as cars have been around, it has been believed that driving before properly heating it could cause you to stall out. In modern cars, this is actually no longer the case. For older cars, as in decades older, carburetors were a large part of the engine. In cars with a carburetor, you would need to heat it up in order to prevent stalling.

However, between the 1980s and 1990s, car manufacturers made the switch to electronic fuel injections in place of carburetors. This new piece no longer needs to be heated in order to send fuel to the engine; it has sensors that can do it no matter what. This means that technically, cars do not need to be heated in order to safely operate.

Ok, so I do not need to heat my car at all?

Well, it is still recommended to give your car a couple of minutes to heat up before you drive. Oil thickens in cold weather, so if you give a couple of minutes for it to heat up, it will properly lubricate the engine. However, even this is not super important, as most modern vehicles and oils are made to better withstand cold weather.

The U.S Department of Energy points out that most automakers say your vehicle only requires 30 seconds of warming up before it can safely drive. That means you can start your car, get settled in, and go! They actually suggest against long periods of idling, as you burn your gas quicker and create more air pollution unnecessarily.

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