Baby it's cold outside!

so it’s negative three degrees outside. i want to put an end to the myth that it’s bad to let your engine run before your drive in cold weather. can someone PLEASE tell me whether it’s good or bad to do this?


My experience, never hurt any of my engines when I lived in the cold.

It’s not bad, it’s just unnecessary. Start it, if it starts and runs, it should have oil circulating easily after 10-20 seconds(multiweight oils are thinner in the winter). It’ll warm up the rest of the way driving. Just don’t floor it or excessively stress the engine early on while it’s warming up. Only reason I would warm it up more would be so I could see out the windshield. Engine has to be be warm for the defroster to work.

Do you, or your grandfather, remember when you (or, you grandfather) were a boy, as late as the 1960s, the U.S. Mail airplanes that used to fly far overhead far from the airport? There were airplanes which, specifically, carried, only U.S. mail…for a few months in 1930s !
That was yesteryear that those planes flew. It was yesteryear that an idling engine, with a carburetor, that the engines would carbon up if the engines idled for extended periods.
Todays cars, since fuel injection (when kept in tune), don’t suffer from carboning up. In short, if you wish, let it idle.

This advice was often given to reduce air pollution. I don’t think it is bad for the engine.

You can warm up your engine by driving gently for the first few minutes, or you can warm it up in the driveway while you have a cuppa and let the cabin warm up, too.

The myth is that long idling is good for an engine. As we poited out in several posts, once the engine starts, it takes 20-30 seconds or so for the oil the circulate to all moving parts. If your window is clear, you can gently move off, remembering that all the other parts of the car are cold too! Puting a load on the engine by driving off gently warms up the car much quicker.

When cars had balky carburetors, it was sometimes necessary to let the engine run a few minutes gefore being able to drive off smoothly.

Driving warms up the car much quicker and is good for the environment; idling is bad for both the engine and the environment; it is only good for the driver. In the city where I live, city owned vehicles, except busses, are not allowed to idle unneccesarily.

Minus 3F is not very cold; Mobil 1 5W30 has a “pour point” of about -45F, so it lubricates very nicely at -3F. The Alaska Pipeline company has standardized on Mobil 1 for all their vehicles and equipment.

If you are really worried about your engine and want it to last 400,000 miles without an overhaul, install a block heater with a timer to come on 2 hours before you need the car. This will save gas, save the battery, and make the engine last much longer. One really cold start equals 500 miles in engine wear. Over a 10 year period, with 2 starts per day,100 days a year, the cold starting will cause about 90%+ of the engine wear. That’s why taxis routinely get 1,000,000 miles out of a standard engine; they never cool down.

P.S. Doris Day sang, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (or, similar title), the best I can remember hearing. She sang it, in a movie with Rock Hudson(?), with a classic, snowy, winter scene outside the wall of glass windows, while they were in the Christmasy living room.

hellokit, you on a nostalgia trip?

It is bad to idle to let it warm up, but not too bad.  It burns more fuel, and the engine suffers a tiny bit more wear.

The title of his post is, “baby, it’s cold outside”. Yes?

IIRC, Bing Crosby sang the song too.

It is both good and bad. At that temperature you can easily justify up to three minutes, or two minutes per passenger to avoid fogging up the windows. You won’t get an argument from everybody for doing that. I will give you a large gray area to work with. It’s a good idea to have heat in the car before starting out so nobody freezes to death if the engine quits. If they are fully dressed for the cold weather, it’s not so big of a worry. I always want some passenger comfort because you don’t want the trip to be miserable for all. It isn’t just the car that matters. People count too. It doesn’t hurt the transmission to get the fluid flowing a little bit. The manual transmission will shift a lot easier on some cars if the fluid is slightly warmer or circulated a bit before the shifting starts.

An engine is healthier operating warmed up than if it’s operating cold- so if you just get in it and go, making it work as opposed to just idling, it’ll warm up quicker and make the engine last longer, but by how much? Good question. I don’t think it would be a humungous amount, but there’s more to a car than an engine. Let’s say a driver lets the

engine idle 30 minutes on a cold morning. It’ll be close to the warmed up state at that point; and the driver thinks, Wow, I can really tromp the gas pedal and go like Hell if I feel like it now! Meanwhile the brakes, suspension, tires, power steering system, and especially the transmission are hollering, “Yo, man, have a heart! I ain’t anywhere near warmed up!” The brake linings/pads have to get warm enough to

where they have the proper amount of friction with the rotors/drums. The rubber bushings in the suspension system warm up by the internal and external friction created as they flex and compress; dittto for the tires; the power steering fluid’s got to get to it’s optimum temperature; and most important: the transmission. It takes 10 to 12 miles for it to totally warm up. The 30 minutes of engine idling does little.

So, when you get in, let the engine run till the oil pressure gauge gets as high as it’s going to get. (If you have an oil light instead of a gauge, let it run a bit- 30 seconds to a minute- somehting on that order on cold days.) Then drive gently, till the temperature gauge gets halfway over or as far as it’s going to get. If you have a light instead of a gauge- 10 to 15 minutes or so.

You don’t wanna go anywhere with the glass iced up, and seeing as it’s a free country; if you want to just let the engine idle so you yourself don’t freeze- go for it! Just remember about the other parts of the car having to warm up also.

It is good for you if it is negative three outside and you want to drive to work in a heated car. I think people start the engine and turn on the heater to make it more comfortable inside. I used to ride to work with a woman who never used the heater (or it was broken) and never used the ashtray preferring to throw the cigarette butts on the floor. What a disgusting way to ride to work. It did not last long before I started driving myself to work.