Tackling the Cold Car Idling Myth

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Time now to dispel a myth about warming up your car on cold winter mornings.     Some experts say there’s no need to let the engine idle for several minutes before you drive away.     They say today’s car engines are much more efficient than they were years ago.     Here’s Mike Postovit.


This is not an uncommon sight on cold winter mornings.     Starting your car and leaving the engine running for 10, 20, even 30 minutes.     Some motorists may think they’re reducing wear and tear by letting their cars warm up gently.     But with fuel injection now a standard feature on most cars – experts say a lengthy idle isn’t necessary anymore.     However, starting a cold engine and driving right away is not good either.

Erik Fielding/Fielding’s Tire & Auto

“I personally see 30 seconds as not enough — especially in our climate.

That’s Erik Fielding — he’s the owner/operator of this automotive and tire store on Princess Street.


“In the winter — it’s not enough to actually have all the oil warmed-up enough to lubricate properly before you can start driving — the main concern for me with 30 seconds is safety — you’re not going to have and get the vehicle warm enough to properly clear — heat clear all the windows.”

Steve Tryon/Performance Plus

“You can’t drive a car away in 30 seconds — if you did, it’s unsafe — period.     It’s just unsafe.”

Automotive Technician Steve Tryon agrees a cold drive can damage your car.


“And you drive right away you’re actually stressing the electrical system of your car.     It has nothing to do with shaving fuel, green house gases — nothing, you’re actually injuring or the possibility of injuring the car and if you do it over and over again you’re going to create a situation that’s going to damage parts.”

In this type of climate, motorists will use the engine idling time to defrost their windows and warm up the inside.     The key is common sense.


“If it’s cold — warm it up be comfortable when your driving — the more comfortable you are the safer you are going to be.”

And with gas prices on the rise, less idling time may save on your wallet as well.     10 minutes of idling uses between a quarter to half a litre of fuel, depending on the size of your engine.     Some experts say your car warms up much faster when it’s driving than when it’s idling.     But they recommend taking it easy for the first 10 minutes or so by driving at slower speeds.
Mike Postovit, CKWS News, Kingston.

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