Cold engine start

Is it harmful to an engine to start it, move it from the driveway to the curb, and then turn it off before the engine heats up?

Technically, yes, but we all do it.

Ideally an engine should be allowed to reach normal operating temperature every time it is started, but that’s not always practical.

If I have to move a vehicle a short distance I like to start the engine and let it run for 30-60 seconds before moving the car. But after I move it I turn the engine off.

I try to plan ahead so moving a vehicle like that isn’t necessary, but if I have to move one I’ll move it.

Unless you do this two or three times a day I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

Ever watch how they move cars around on a dealer’s lot? They’re started, moved a few feet, or to another row, and shut off. Any damage done by cold-start happens long before the vehicle ever leaves the lot.

As long as this isn’t the only way the engine is run for many days/weeks on end, it’s not a big deal. It’s always better to let it warm all the way up to allow for any condensation to burn off, but doing it here and there won’t hurt anything.

Yes, but if this is done only occasionally, it is not a real problem. And, if the car normally is driven for at least 20 minutes before turning off the engine, then no harm, no foul.

On a related note, I am sure that we all have a neighbor who comes back from a short-trip errand, parks his car in his driveway for several hours, and then after nightfall, he starts then engine in order to move the car 20 feet or so into the garage. You know–for the “safeguarding” of the car.

People like this usually make a practice of this almost every day, and then they wonder why their engines develop sludge, their batteries have a shortened lifespan, and their exhaust systems rot out prematurely. In the process of “safeguarding” their car, they are doing damage to it.

As long as you don’t make a habit of moving the car just a few feet while the engine is cold, there is no real problem.

Thanks for the replies.

I do have to crank up just to move quite a bit, to the point it’s irritating. Usually, someone comes to visit, pulls up in my spot in the driveway and I end up parking on the street, until 2-3 hours later when they leave, and I park it where it belongs.

I think it would be bad on the battery, not to mention unnecessary wear and tear on the starter.

You would think that more people would have the common courtesy not to park in someone else’s driveway…

Are they visiting you or someone else? If they’re visiting a neighbor perhaps it’s time to stand up for your rights.

In reality, we all simply do what we have to and don’t worry. Worrying will do nothing to change the reality of the situation. In theory it would be nice if we could all treat our vehicles using optimum conditions, but that rarely fits our real world needs.