Warming Up

This isn’t matrimonial because my wife could care less. Or couldn’t care less, I’ve never known how that goes. We live in New Mexico and from mid November til mid March the overnight temperatures most often are less than freezing. I am originally from the very, very Northeast and understand cold starts. My wife, Christine, has no objections to starting her car, already in reverse, and immediately backing out of the yard and off she goes.

I fully understand that car engines are not the same as when you and I were kids but I also know that oil is still the life blood of the engine. I go out every morning and start her car and let it run for about 30 seconds. I know that it doesn’t warm the engine up but feel comfortable that it’s oiled.

Please confirm.

Thanks, Paulcold

30 seconds is plenty of time to get the oil circulating and you should have no problems driving after that. What i do with mine in cold weather since it normally runs at 1300 rpm’s for about 30 seconds when I first start is, start it and let it run until the idle settles down to normal 600 then I go.


The current line of thinking is warm the engine 30 seconds to a minute or two. But it is prudent to at least allow the oil to hit the top of the engine before driving off. Have her start the car, then seat belt, radio, etc. then drive off. That will allow oil to hit the top.

Do you mean you let it idle for 30 seconds or so BEFORE DRIVING it or do you mean you just let it idle for 30 seconds and shut it down? A car can sit for months without being started and it will not hurt the engine at all.

Starting it and running for just 30 seconds and shutting it off is hard on the engine.

As long as your wife drives it gently, she isn’t doing any harm. I wouldn’t worry about temps less than 32 degrees (F). I would worry when temps get below 0.

If your car was parked directly at the freeway on ramp and she got in the car, put on her seat belt, checked her make up in the mirror before starting the motor and immediately jumped on the gas to get up to freeway speed - then she might do some damage to the car.

Today most cars use 5W oils that circulate and flow much faster and better than years back. Also, she is likely starting the car and as it idles or is just above idle is backing out of the drive and onto the road. Then she starts forward down the street at a slow speed for a bit so as not to hit the kids waiting for the school bus. By the time she reachs a main road the car has been running for a least a couple of minutes and that is enough so likely no damage at all from the immediate take off from the driveway.

If you like your routine start up, then keep it up. I don’t think it is doing much more than making you feel better, but no harm no foul.

When my wife used to start her car, I swear I could see the car move before the first little puff of vapor left the tail pipe. It took lots of perseverance, but I finally trained her to start the car and then fasten the seat belt rather than the other way around. That way she does not loose any time.

I’m going to agree that it doesn’t much matter, but if she can stand the annoying chimes, she could stand to start the car, then put the belt on and so on. Modern oils are thin enough when cold to reach everywhere they need to be in the time it takes to do it that way. Don’t just run it for 30 seconds - that’ll do more damage than starting up and going! If the engine will idle, she can safely drive away, but a couple minutes before hitting the onramp is better.

As for grammar, the term you want is “couldn’t care less”, because she doesn’t care about it at all. If she “could care less”, that would mean she does care about it some. That’s one of my pet peeves!

That is one of my pet peeves also.
When someone tells us that he/she “could care less”, they are actually telling us that they care more.

A few decades ago, people did not make this mistake. What happened in the intervening years that caused people to change this expression?

Incidentally, my other pet peeve is the creation of a new word (actually a non-word), namely “alot”. When did the two words, “a lot”, morph into one non-word?

Before I retired, I tried informally educating the younger workers, all of whom used the non-word, “alot” in their reports. I commented that, since “a little” consists of two words, so should “a lot”. I knew that I had lost the battle a few weeks later when one of the young girls began to use the non-word “alittle” in her reports.

I thought “I could care less” said in a sarcastic tone meant the same thing as “I couldn’t care less” said sincerely.

Both of you guys would love this web site: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/

I am very familiar with that site!

Whenever I am having “mental pause”, I go there to verify whether my grammar is correct or not. Now, if only more people would use tools like that site…

If the temperature is above say 20? F then no harm. If it is 0? or below then maybe a tiny little harm, but really nothing to get excited about.

I would be more worried about driving at highway speeds after only a block or two of driving. Even if the engine is warm, the suspension and other parts are not. Take it easy when driving off in very cold temps.

Thanks for the grammatical confirmation, but why does letting the car run for 30 seconds and shutting it down do more damage than taking off milliseconds after ignition?


You are concerned. She’s not. It takes a lot of effort to make (entice, persuade, cajole, etc.) someone into being concerned. One has to let someone “enjoy” the fruits of their actions.

PS, Y’all, what i are thankful for is the smell checker feature on my screen. Hits great!

As long as the vehicle is not driven hard from a cold start it will be fine. It will likely last well beyond your ownership period whether warmed up or driven right away.

On a cold day(0F) when getting into car after work I just start and go.

1991 GMC grumman -Olsen step vam 5.7 .shut off veh, next morning go to start,spin spin? take off dist cap ,unplug pickup coil off module,plug back in, turn key starts, this has been happening ao a regular basis, new module,new coil, going to replace pick up doil today ?? WHY?? maybe injun burial ground, bad spirts?? thanks J R

Shutting the engine down after 30 seconds of running means that the water vapor that is a byproduct of combustion is not burned off, because the engine is still ice-cold. The build-up of this moisture over time will degrade the motor oil and can lead to sludge. It will also lead to early rust-out of the exhaust system.

If the engine is subsequently run for at least 20 minutes in order to warm everything up properly, this will burn off the accumulated moisture, but for the person who does a lot of short-trip local driving, the practice of starting the engine and shutting it down after 30 seconds will lead to accelerated engine wear and having to replace the exhaust system.

And, of course, 30 seconds of run time is nowhere near enough time to recharge the battery after starting the engine.

Can anyone translate that into English?

Si, patron.

1991 GMC Grumman, whatever that is. Olsen step van 5.7. In the morning he went to start it, it cranked and cranked. He took off the distributor cap; unplugged pickup coil from the module; plugged it back in, when he turned the key it started.

It has happened often. He put in a new module; a new coil, and is going to pick up “doil” (not sure of that one, unless he means another new coil), and wants to know why his might have happened.

Not sure it makes sense, but that is a translation into English for what it’s worth.

Tom and Ray’s column did not mention the effects of idling on batteries. Police cars often have (or used to) dual batteries because they spend so much time idling. Running their police radios takes a lot of juice but so do electrical seat warmers! Modern car computers may compensate to some extent by increasing idle speed, but I wouldn’t keep the car running on idle with all accessories while you consume a couple of dozen doughnuts. Warming up for a few minutes should not be a problem.