Morning Warm Up: How long with gas prices?

Okay, to set this up, I’ll just say I don’t have a ton of money as I am a college student, I have a 2002 Chevrolet Prizm (same as Toyota Corolla mechanically of the same year), as well as I live in Ohio… Anyways, I want to know, knowing what gas prices are, what is the appropriate time to let my car warm up, before driving it, in the moment? I remember being told, when I was much younger, that my father heard that if your car is going to run for more than a minute at idle, than it is more efficient to shut off the vehicle or it just makes more sense… Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know as my father and I heard it on the radio and he has repeated it, like a record, ever since! So, what do you think is the best idea to get the engine to that proper, most fuel efficient running temperature, that is recommended to begin driving an automobile at? I’ll admit, more than half the time now, to try and not let it warm up too long, I have just not let it warm up at all! But, I don’t necessarily believe that’s the best idea, I just felt it was better than letting the car run for roughly 10 minutes, without driving it! I don’t know, so I now ask you (the reader), what you think and what you have found? Thanks and Merry Christmas everyone!

We just had apost on this and the warmup time should be just enough to get the oil circulating to the valve gear. In summer that is 15 seconds!! In winter, with winter oil, take about 30 seconds. Then DRIVE OFF GENTLY. You still have to warm up the running gear. Your 10 minutes of idling is a collossal waste of money and causes much more wear on the car than driving off after 30 seconds. It also pollutes the air! The only exception is when your windows are frozen over; then you may neeed to run a little longer so you can see out. In summary, your car warms up best and quickest while you are driving it.

Older cars with carburetors needed more time to start running smooth, so they could take off without sputtering.

Don’t waste your time and endanger traffic by shutting off you engine at long stop lights. The saving is very little. At a railroad crossing while waiting for 120 car train to pass, by all means, shut off the engine.

If you are really interested is saving gas , and have access to an electrical outlet, install an engine block heater with a timer. Your car will heat up very fast in the morning, and you will notice the differenc in fuel consumption. Also, you will have less engine wear, since one cold start equals 500 miles of normal driving in engine wear.

Those routine maintenance items, such as: checking all the fluids, tires, filters, and other stuff, are more important than the price of gas. 'Cause, if you haven’t maintained it, the price of gas won’t matter in a non-functioning car. Yes, we know you. We met you a few days ago, here, at Car Talk.

Turn the key start and drive away gently when ready. Once it warms up fully by temp guage drive normally.

Its way more efficient to do this by not only fuel but your time involved in the matter.

Start it and go!

I agree with docnick’s post, and you might be interested to know that there is another source with similar information. I am fairly confident that your Owner’s Manual has a section regarding vehicle warm-up. You might find it enlightening to read that little book on that topic, as well as other topics regarding the safe and economical operation of your car.

I do a 5 minute warm-up before getting up to speed, but that is for my body on the treadmill and not for my automobile. Old geezers and old carbureted engine cars may need a warm-up, but as the other posts say, just start the engine and you are set to go. In the old days of singe viscosity oils, it made sense to do a warm-up if one had 20 weight or higher oil in the crankcase. Present multi-viscosity oils flow better at low temperatures, and, coupled with microprocessor controlled fuel injection, long warm-ups for cars has become a thing of the past. Now, if I could only find a body fluid for old geezers that would let me do a quicker warm-up before I do my exercising, this would be great.

All I can say is this: Icy Hot and BenGay! They work Miracles, as does Viagra or Cialis! Enjoy!

Alright man, thanks a lot! I appreciate your help and it “sounds like you know what you’re talking about”! Whether or not that’s true, I dunno, but I have to face the fact that I am somewhat inpatient and truthfully, even if you told me to wait 20 minutes, I would probably cut that in half like normal, and just wait 10! You know, if you told me 10, it would be 5, told me 2, it would be 1, and so on and so forth! But, regardless, I appreciate yours, as well as everyones elses, help in this matter! I guess I will continue to practice what I have been doing and expect the worst, but hope for the best, as I always do in life! That’s what I have found has gotten me anywhere is expecting the worst, but hoping for the best! That way, I am always prepared! I’m not saying I am perfect or even close, actually far from it (obviously I’m asking questions so I’m not perfect, not to mention nobody was perfect other than Jesus and will never be perfect other than Him!) but I appreciate what you have stated and will keep it in mind as I continue to drive! Have an awesome night and Merry Christmas!

Truly Random, you just got advice from a number of very qualified specialists, including an automotive engineer and lubrication engineer. We try to tell you that warmup time has to do with how fast can the oil to circulate to the valve gear which is on top of the engine. That 15 to 30 seconds determines the warmup time, then you drive off gently until the temperature gage is at least half way up, them you can blast away. It’s really that simple. As a business man I PLAN for the best (not HOPE) and also expect the worst (Plan B).

It sounds like your father was trying give you sensible advice, but that may have sounded boring to you. However, the fact that you posted a question indicates that you are willing to learn basic truths rather than folklore and junk science.

Best wishes for the Holidays!


A car this new can simply be put into gear and driven as soon as it’s started. Just take it easy driving until the temp. gauge starts to move. If you have ice/frost on your car, it doesn’t hurt to start it and turn on the rear window defroster and windshield defrosting fans and allow the car to run for a minute or two while you scrape ice and clear snow as necessary. But really the only way to get it warmed up is to get it on the road and go. Good luck.

In my old Honda (89 Accord with 440,000 miles and a carburetor) I start it and drift down my driveway to the main road . . slowly . . and start off easy for the first few miles. Not only the engine needs to warm up, but the whole car . . suspension, transmission, etc. Take it easy for the first few miles, but don’t sit and idle . . . 30 seconds is usually enough for my car, and this seems to have worked well. I bet that all of the engine oil circulates in less than a minute, but tranny lube needs to circulate too. Just take it easy for the first few miles. Rocketman

here is what to try . when you get up from bed and it is -20 and 8 inchs of snow run straight outside and try to run around the street how did it feel. the next day get up dress up have a coffee put a hat and coat get yourself warm now go outside and run around the street. how you feel now alot better. how to expect your car to work when it frozen from being out all night. if you only drive a short distance to school
you are causing propblems down the road. with oil ,exhaust system transmission., power steering pump and I bet as college student you never clean your windows of snow I was a mechanic but I now drive bus for a large university. I see how you kids treat your cars.

I was just thinking 15 seconds too. If your windshield doesn’t fog up when you start rolling, you are OK. If you have to go right out into a 55 MPH zone, you should wait a little longer, like maybe even a minute or longer so as to give the heater a head start.

I don’t warm up our cars/trucks at all. I just get in and drive. Even if it’s -10F.

I gotta say, my father and I have one of the best relationships, if not the best relationship, that I have ever seen a man my age (22) and a father whom is obviously older ('cause it doesn’t happen any other way, besides on Springer)than myself, but surely wiser! I appreciate the advice from the qualified specialists and it is something that I will not take for granted and practice on a daily basis (with the extraordinarily low amount of self control that I do have)! I can’t say I understood everything that was said, but I do understand all I need to by telling me a solid time (which I know is only as solid as variables permit), which I do know time! All I am trying to say is no, I’m not trying to sound cocky, nor demeaning to my father, as I am not a wise guy but I AM WILLING TO PUT FORTH THE EFFORT TO REASEARCH AND LEARN SO THAT I DON’T MAKE STUPID MISTAKES. Thanks again,


Well, I found myself last week driving slowly around the parking lot where I work for about 5 minutes just warming up the engine enough to keep the windsheild clear…