Idle Cars

Frozen car tail pipeCold weather is in the forecast. You should bundle up to stay warm, but does your car need to be warmed up, too? Or is it bad to let your car idle? Many drivers believe that warming up their car every morning before leaving for work or school, especially where snow falls heavily, is a must. On the contrary, most modern vehicles do not need to be warmed up before driving. Here’s why:

Most vehicles produced after the late 1980’s come equipped with fuel-injected engines, but before that, cars and trucks relied on carburetors to produce the right mixture of air and fuel to power the engine. Warming up your car with a carburetor was common practice as it would take several minutes for the choke to produce enough air and fuel to deliver to the engine. Without the precise mixture of air and fuel, cars would simply stall out or hesitate while moving. Today’s cars and trucks are equipped with sensors in the electronic fuel injection system that do the same job as the choke did, although faster and much more efficiently.

Is it Bad to Leave Your Car Running?

The short answer is yes. Not only does it release harmful emissions into the air, but it’s also hard on your engine and could end up costing you money.

Idling impacts the environment because it forces more emissions into the air, which are harmful to the planet. For example, allowing your car to warm-up for just 10-minutes can release as much us 1-pound of carbon dioxide into the air.

Idling too much places unnecessary strain on your engine as it affects the emission system, cylinders, and the spark plugs. When your car is warmed up, extra fuel is added to the combustion chamber, which can stick to the cylinders. When gasoline collects on the cylinders it dissolves the oil used to lubricate vital internal components. Without the proper lubrication, it can cause severe damage to the engine. Additionally, idling allows the engine to run too rich, which means the fuel to air ratio is off. Running too rich means your vehicle is consuming more fuel than needed and is simply wasteful.

Lastly, warming up your car can cost you money. In fact, the EPA says that idling cars can use between one quarter to half a gallon of gasoline for every hour the vehicle is in an idle state. After several days, you’ll be at the pump spending money to refuel what was lost and never even used for driving!

So, How Long Can a Car Idle?

Not long, actually. Though, we wouldn’t suggest just getting in the car and taking off, either. In fact, getting in the car and flooring it is equally as bad, placing a needless strain on the engine. All you really need is about a minute to allow lubricants to move throughout the engine. You can make this mini warm-up productive, however, by preparing yourself for the road. First and foremost, put on your seatbelt, then adjust the temperature to your comfort, turn on your favorite radio station, plan the route to your final destination, and finally, shift into gear and go. By the time you reach the last step, both you and your car will be ready for the trip!

Sun Auto Service Has the Answer

Lots of vehicle owners have questions from what to do when there’s a recall on your car to what the differences are between disc and drum brakes, and so much more. When you have questions about your vehicle, just contact the experts at Sun Auto Service! Our Technicians and Service Consultants have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the common and not-so-common questions that all vehicle owners have. We love to share our knowledge and tips and tricks on all things automotive. No question is too big or too small, we can handle them all.