You’ve probably heard that you should always warm up your car for several minutes before you start driving. For those who have started driving immediately while in a rush to get to work or to an appointment, we have good news for you: you probably didn’t need to warm it up in the first place. The truth will actually depend on what type of vehicle you are driving – and how old it is.
Where the wisdom of warming up your car came from
Like all stories, there’s a reason that letting your car come to operating temperature became common knowledge.
We’ll need to step back to a time when cars had carburetors to explain why. These vehicles had a choke that controlled how much air could get into the fuel combustion chamber. This, in turn, warmed up the engine oil and prevented damage to the engine from running too rich (too much air) or too lean (not enough air).
In early models, you would have to switch off the choke manually once the engine had gotten to operating temperature, but later models had electronic chokes that took care of this for you. Even with the addition of automatic chokes, engines still needed to be warmed before driving since the technology had yet to optimize the air-to-fuel ratio for the vehicle to perform well from a cold temperature.
Similarly, early fuel-injected engines, like their automatic choke predecessors, didn’t have sensors inside the engine to measure how much air was coming into the engine.
Modern vehicles, modern solutions
Modern vehicles are equipped with complex electronic systems that monitor how much air and fuel can enter the combustion chambers and make adjustments as needed. These sensors are as fast as they are accurate, and they ensure that your engine gets the correct amount of fuel regardless of whether you immediately put your car into ‘drive’ or not.
In short, modern vehicles do not need to be warmed up before you begin driving. Older vehicles, especially those with early fuel-injection systems or carburetors, will need to get to operating temperature before you put the car into gear.
Should you warm up your car in cold weather?
Modern vehicle or otherwise, it’s always a good idea to let your car warm up for several minutes during colder months. This is more for comfort and safety than actual operation or performance.
Letting your car warm up in the winter will give your vehicle time to heat the cabin, defrost the windows, and let your fingers thaw if you’ve been digging your vehicle out of the snow!
Routine Maintenance And More At T3 Atlanta
Whether you need routine maintenance or more intensive repairs, T3 Atlanta can help. We provide fast and friendly service for Infiniti, Nissan, Lexus, and Toyota vehicles in the metro Atlanta area. Give us a call at our Smyrna or Decatur location and we’ll book you in for an appointment today!