Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Warm Up Headaches

I’m here to get some EXPERT opinions on a topic that has brought me endless grief over the years. It never fails that people absolutely boggle themselves stupid when I start my car, put my seatbelt on, put it in drive, check mirrors, and go. If I had a PENNY for the times I’ve gotten the run around on “needing to let your car warm up” I’d be a gazillionaire. Every time I have this discussion no amount of proof or common sense gets through to these people. I tell them to check their owners manual, it will even say a suggested “ten seconds” before driving. A SUGGESTED ten seconds. As long as you don’t redline the motor as soon as you start driving, or becoming aggressive until the motor reaches “operating temps” everything is fine, right?

Any need for long warm-ups went away with carburetors.
My routine is 10 seconds or so if it’s above freezing; 30 seconds if it’s below freezing; a minute or two if it’s below zero Fahrenheit.
A search on this an other forums will reveal details of how long warm-ups do more harm than good.

This time of year, get in and go. Don’t remind me about the 4 months of the year (Wisconsin) where it’s start the car, scrape the snow and ice off, and go.

Challenge them. Ask them to explain the technical reasons. They watch as they melt away in your passenger seat.

It only takes moments for the oil to build pressure within the lubrication system. Once that happens, as long as you drive conservatively until it warms up you’re fine.

And now, a caveat: if it’s subzero outside, give it some time to warm up a bit or use a plug in engine heater. Parts do expand and contract “photographically” with changes in temperature, and oil does get thick, and it’s my philosophy that if I’m kind to my engine it’ll be kind to me. Besides, the defroster won’t work well at subzero temps until the heater core gets some warmth in it. If you’ve ever tried to drive with your breath freezing to the windshield, you’ll understand. letting it warm a bit becomes a safety issue.

Within reason, like you say to drive conservatively for a few minutes, then yes, I agree, you are right.

You only need to warm your car up to be safe. You need heat to defrost the windshield so you can see. Any other warming up is a waste of time and fuel.

But you’re preaching to the choir here.

We’ve always done the warm up on the go. Just before we have to start going 50mph (start of the 50 zone is right where we join the main road) the car is usually almost warmed up. On the new Mazda Skyactiv you are instructed to just start the car and drive away. It will raise the RPM a little to warm things up but otherwise there’s no need to do anything.

Thanks for all the responses guys. Yeah when its very cold I’ll definitely let it warm up a little, I’m sure its more pleasant for both of us. It takes us a couple minutes to get to the main road here as well, and like others have said by then its plenty warmed up for full speed.

Thanks again, guys.

I do the same thing. Start the car then put the belt on and go. 5 or 10 seconds I guess. I like a little circulation of the oil and trans before taking off. But in the grand scheme of things, big deal.

what if you drive a carbureted car?

I drive fuel injected and carbureted cars the same way. I only allow a minute or two warmup in freezing weather. If it’s above freezing…I drive on…slowly at first but I drive on. The carburetor will either have a manual choke or an automatic one so there is no need for a warmup when driving one.

no, my old 390 had neither, it had a tube from the block or manifold to the carb. no choke

Ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers to warm up or not to warm up, how long to warm up, load the engine during warm up, etc., etc

I think the real reason people berate others for things like this is they cannot agree to disagree. Some think they are right and therefore you are wrong, period. Control issues.

My basic philosophy is to use a block heater t 15 degrees or below, then not go over 30 mph or less for the first few minutes. Most engine wear occurs within the first 30 seconds of starting your engine assuming you have clean oil.

GeorgeSanJose I love newer fuel injected computer controlled vehicles. I start my car, back out of the driveway, drive about 100 ft to the road and keep it at less than 3,000 rpm until I get to the highway which is about 1/2 mile. I have owned many carbureted vehicles which were very temperamental and required a complicated warm-up.

no, my old 390 had neither, it had a tube from the block or manifold to the carb. no choke

I had a choke. That tube fed air to a bi-metal coil that open the choke as it warmed. Now if there wasn’t a choke at the carb end of the tube it was removed by someone.

I gave up long ago trying to convince my wife that an extended warm up was harder on the engine.
I just hop in and start the engine. By the time I buckle up and am ready to go the engine has had 10 seconds to warm up. Where I live you go 25-30mph for about two miles before you’re out on the 55mph highway.
If it’s terrably cold then I may let it run for two or three minutes so the defrosters will work.

My wife will start the car and let it warm up for 30 minutes, some times even longer.
I just grit my teeth and go back to reading my paper.


In my opinion, your wife is doing a disservice to the engine

I agree db, but I’ve learned a long time ago that it is a waste of time to argue with her.

You know that the woman is always right…just ask your wife!!!

As others have told me “Happy Wife,Happy LIfe”