It’s a long-standing belief that during winter, you should let your car warm up before driving it. But as technology advances, it’s starting to become somewhat of a myth—so what should you be doing this year?

carwarmup
Idling your car while you scrape off the snow and
ice might be convenient, but it's not necessary.

In terms of needing to let your car idle for several minutes before driving, you don’t really need to. It’s widely accepted nowadays that all the time that the car needs to get the oil circulating is about 30 seconds. Driving the car warms it up faster than simply idling on your driveway or the street, and the efficiency of modern fuel-injection systems means you no longer have to sit and wait for the car to be “ready.”

Keep in mind that your car is not like the human body—while it’s generally suggested that we stretch before exercising, cars don’t need to do that.

Aside from not being necessary to drive, idling also has a few other pitfalls. For one, running the engine in such an inefficient manner can degrade the engine’s performance and decrease mileage over time. It can also cost you a lot of money—a year’s worth of idling 5 minutes per day will waste 20 gallons of gasoline, which, in today’s market, isn’t chump change. Idling can also be dangerous. If you run your car in an enclosed space, like your garage, you’re exposed to the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Despite not being necessary, though, some people still prefer to let their cars warm up while they scrape the ice and snow off, which is convenient and completely fine. But if you’re only idling for the comfort of getting into a toasty warm car, perhaps check out some of our suggestions on warmer winter wear rather than polluting the environment and emptying your wallet.