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Should I drive gently when my engine is cool?

Today, I got in my car, started it up, and talked to my friend out the window for 45 seconds to a minute while my car idled. Then I started driving, but I accelerated a little bit harder than I usually do on a cold engine, probably no more that 3000 rpm. I am later regretting it because I have heard that you should let your car idle for a little while before driving away to let the oil get distributed throughout the engine, and then drive gently until the engine teacher operating temperature. Today, in this situation, my car had been sitting for about 7 hours in 55° weather on a flat surface. My question is, how long does it really take for oil to get distributed through a cold engine (0w-20 synthetic), and did I cause any unnecessary wear or damage by accelerating a little harder than usual before my engine warmed up? What even is considered gently driving, and did I even exceed gentle driving?

Thanks a lot for the feedback

At 55F it only takes a second for the fluids including the oil to get fully distributed.
You have done absolutely zero damage by accelerating a little harder than usual. None, nada, zip, zero. You can sleep soundly tonight.

I can’t wait for spring again and those nice warm 55 degree days. :smiley:

55ºF is hardly considered cold.

When it’s in the 20s or colder, I let it idle for 30 sec or so and keep the RPMs below 2k until it warms up, but that is only my preference.

On winter days here in northern Calif with temperatures like that, on cold starts I usually idle for 30-45 seconds, then drive away, avoiding rapid accelerations for 3 to 4 minutes.

When I lived in Colorado where it was much colder, often below 0 deg F, I lived on a fairly steep hill. Even if my destination was in the uphill direction, I’d start out driving downhill, then make a big loop back after a couple blocks up a different street not as steep, trying to avoid rapid accelerations and steep up-hills for the first 5-10 minutes or so.

You did not say what your vehicle was. If it was made any time after 1950, just start it and drive like you normally do and find something else to worry about.

On a very cold day (0 deg F) and with 10W30 in the crankcase it can take up to a minute for the oil to fully reach the valve gear. This will, cause accelerated engine wear. Such very cold starts are equivalent to 500 miles of engine wear.

However, with today’s 5W20 and 0W20 synthetics, wear is greatly reduced. But, as suggested, you drive off reasonably gently because many other components such as the transmission and differential also have to warm up. Also, never “race” a cold engine.

With proper care today’s engines will outlast the rest of the car.

well, our new honda has a blue dash light to inform you the motor is cold.

I started my 1971 Maverick at -22 degees. It cranked pretty slowly even with 10W-30 oil. I let it warm up about 10 minutes before I started driving just to make certain the fuel line wasn’t frozen. Unless the temperature is below 10 degrees, I let the oil pressure stabilize for about a minute and then start off driving conservatively. On my manual shift 1954 Buick, I had to idle the car about five minutes in extremely cold weather with the car in neutral and the clutch out to stir up the transmission grease or it was very difficult to shift.

3000 RPM is not racing the engine. If you have an automatic transmission, just drive normally as you leave. If you live right next to the freeway interchNge, you might want to give it a minute or two warmup befor merging, but otherwise, no problem.

I think the OP is simply bragging at it being a balmy 55 degrees while some of us freeze at below zero weather. Drive conservatively until warmed up but certainly no harm done at 55 degrees.

30 seconds and then light acceleration. Here is a good article explaining cold engine vs oil and gas.

“I think the OP is simply bragging at it being a balmy 55 degrees while some of us freeze at below zero weather.”

That thought crossed my mind also.
Here in the NJ/NYC metro area, we are being clobbered with a classic blizzard, and the 1 1/2 to 2 feet of snow, coupled with single-digit wind chills, makes me yearn for 55 degree weather.

I agree that the OP has nothing to worry about.
If you want to know who does have something to worry about, consider the driver of a BMW 7-series who got stuck on a midtown Manhattan street this afternoon, and required the assistance of 14 men to push it across an intersection. Of course, then you have to wonder whether he was able to get that much assistance every other time that his car got stuck today.

The Governor had already ordered that all roads were closed to traffic, but apparently that formality doesn’t matter to somebody driving a big-ass BMW.

I have likely posted a link to this information sometime in the past but it may be enlightening to some so take a look

It would appear that at somewhat normal(average) driving conditions 30W is ideal but in the real world where seasonal temperatures are more often than not above or below the average multi viscosity oils are ideal.

No, no, bragging would be if the OP was in Southern CA and mentioning it is 70 degrees today :slight_smile:

On the blue light that @Cavell mentions; does the manual say what to do when it is on?

'bragging would be if the OP was in Southern CA and mentioning it is 70 degrees today"

Last night or the night before, Jimmy Kimmel said that it was "145 degrees today in L.A."
Was Jimmy exaggerating?
Say it ain’t so, Jimmy!

Thanx @“Rod Knox” . Awesome article!

Who here owns the oldest vehicle, and years of continuous ownership?

Me, my oldest is a 43 year old Ford 4wd truck, owned for 42 years.

"On the blue light that @Cavell mentions; does the manual say what to do when it is on?"

I just bought a new FIT, so I looked it up and here’s all it says: “The engine coolant temperature is low. If the indicator remains on, there may be a problem with temperature sensors.”

As an aside, the Honda manual is not very good compared to others I have owned. There is no maintenance section or separate booklet for that. It pretty much tells you to rely on the “Maintenance Minder” feature. I guess that’s “progress” but I don’t like relying on my car to tell me when it needs something done.

Where I live it got to 72 degrees today. We are in our cold time so it is now down with darkness to 55 degrees. I iive in the mountains of Mexico in the Central Highlands I do remember snow, but am trying to forget.

I normally start the car and drive off when all are seated and belted.

If it was cold enough to need the heat when I lived in Anchorage, I kept it under 3000 rpm until I had heat inside the car.