Winter warm up

I have a question about warming up a car. I know it is not usually recommended. I leave work in th ewinter and drive 200 yards to the freeway on-ramp then 5 miles later start to cross the continental divide. Day time temps are usually above zero but may be 10-15 below by the time i leave work. What is a good warm up time/ Thanks, John

Start, run for 15-20 seconds, put it in gear and go. Drive like an old woman until the temp needle starts to move.

That’s been my standard practice. Just checking on it.

You’re doing the right thing; I would run the engine maybe a little longer, 30 seconds or so in winter. The important thing is to have the right oil viscosity. At -15F you should have at most a 5W30, or preferably a 0W30 synthetic which has a very low pour point, without thinning out too much at high engine temperatures.

I also live in a very cold region, and the 0W30 synthetic has served us well for many years.

The Little Old Lady from Pasadena

Jeff, would that be the old woman you are referring to?

I don’t normally recommend warm-up time of more than 30 seconds or so, but in this case–“200 yards to the freeway on-ramp”–I think that more warm-up time is in order. For this specific situation, I would recommend a couple of minutes of warm-up in below-zero temperatures. But, instead of stationary warm-up, how about driving around the block at low speed before getting onto the freeway on-ramp?

Since I live on a street that is essentially an oval drive, in very cold temperatures, I will slowly drive once or twice around that oval before I have to nail the accelerator to dive into traffic on the local county road. If this type of exercise is an option for the OP, that is what I would recommend, coupled with 0W30 synthetic motor oil.

This sounds like a geography riddle! I’m betting you either work in Butte, Montana or a Colorado ski area?

I’d definitely let it warm up for a minute or two. Especially if you park outside. If it’s an automatic, I might even try to take a quick spin or two around the block before getting on the interstate.

Continental divide here too, 20 miles east. Geography riddle 22 degrees last night, snowed saturday night.
When you first get to your car, start it up.
Then do the other neccessities ie; get out and clear the windows and lamps of snow, stow your stuff ( coffee, cel phone, packages ), fasten seat belt and awaaay yoooou go !

We have a winner, Butte it is. The car runs 5W-30 and the truck gets a 30 wt synthetic.

There is no need what so ever to let it warm up 2-3 minutes. 1 minute is fine even at -20. Maybe if it gets down to -40 it might be needed. But if it was that cold I wouldn’t leave the house.

There several factors in warming up a car. Step one is to get the oil moving around and the engine warm enough to move the car reliably. This can be 0 to maybe 2 minutes. The next part is getting the engine warm enough to work efficiently and with minimal wear, that is more like 5 - 10 minutes. In addition the one many people miss are things like the transmission and suspension parts, and that is also like 5-10 minutes.

Could you get on at a different ramp a little further towards your destination? I am particularly concerned since you will be taking your cold car on the freeway going up a mountain. That is hard enough for a warm engine and drive train.

You Don’t Say What Make And Model This Car Is

Maybe the Donner Party option is available to put on this vehicle if it did not come that way from the factory. Possibly just the block heater from that package, installed on your car would have your engine up to speed quicker, and deliver some heat to you a little sooner.

Ha! I knew it!

For those who don’t know, the passes that go north and east out of Butte are some of the steepest in the Interstate system and they practically start in town. I agree with Joseph’s suggestion of driving to a different onramp to give your car more of a chance to warm up.

Also, what kind of truck do you have? Unless it’s something really old, like pre-1960, I’d run at least a 10w-30. Multi-weight oils were one of the best things that ever happened to engines in cold climates!

Your suggestion takes into account something I didn’t see mentioned yet- the transmission. The engine may be just beginning to warm up but the trans is still bone cold. I like to have a couple of rolling miles underway before I load the trans up like that. Thankfully, I don’t have to get on an entrance ramp like those in my commute, especially so close to starting it up.

Can someone clarify why longer warm ups are bad? My 2 trucks at work I use I let warm up 10 to 15 minutes in winter, 93 f250 and a 94 gmc. 35,000 mi on the ford, basically a plow truck and 125,000 on the GMC. Also they spend a lot of time idling on job sites as otherwise the mars light kills the battery.

No plug ins at work. It is garaged at night on my side of the divide and the truck is running synthetic which I think pours easier than a multi-vis standard SAP oil. The car is a Dodge Stratus 4 cyl 16 valve, Truck a 98 Dodge Ram 318. The car has an auto trans, and I have put it in gear and stood on the brake while reving it to around 2000 rpm to warm the transmissio oil before heading out but I don’t do that consistently.

Can someone clarify why longer warm ups are bad? My 2 trucks at work I use I let warm up 10 to 15 minutes in winter, 93 f250 and a 94 gmc. 35,000 mi on the ford, basically a plow truck and 125,000 on the GMC. Also they spend a lot of time idling on job sites as otherwise the mars light kills the battery.

I grew up in a mountaineous (= COLD) region in Europe and can only relay what the Auto Club there kept saying every winter: Turn the car on, put it in drive an go immediately. No need to even wait for 20 seconds. Driving like an old woman is of the essence. Avoid revving above 2500 rpms or so (which may be challenging on the onramp).

It is - according to the Auto Club website that I just googled - a little known fact that it is actually bad for the engine to idle when cold. They say that when idling it takes longer for the engine to produce a good oil film in the cylinders and get rid of condensation water.

If you step n the brake while revving it to 2000 rpm you might as well driving it at 2000 RPMs. What’s the difference?

Use common sense, always.

My Sienna will not shift up until it warms up quite a bit, without extreme throttle pressure, which would make it dangerous to pull onto a fast freeway with heavy traffic. This is designed in the computer.

Cars have a strange function, called fast idle, which deals with warm-up at idle. IF you drive like an old woman, however that is, you won’t be running the engine any faster than fast idle anyway.

The principle reason not to warm up a motor has to do with ‘wasted fuel’.

To drive slowly in hopes of extending engine life from 200,000 miles to 210,000 miles is of no purpose if you get a Kenworth up your tail-pipe the second day you pull into heavy traffic at a snail’s pace.

If you drive with minimal traffic, then go ahead and drive without warm-up.

Gosh, how could I forget iced up windshield? See comment above about Kenworth up your tail-pipe.

As I said, look over your circumstances and use common sense. If you feel like life will be better if you warm it up, you are probably right.

The manufacturers recommends usually assumes reasonable temps, clean windshield, and modest traffic. In those conditions, don’t bother to warm up. But, don’t do anything that is going to get you in a wreck.

And, yes, I do see people driving around in bad weather with a steamed-up pinhole for seeing out the front. Dumb!