Warming up your car in cold weather is a long-lasting automotive myth

By Product Expert | Posted in Safety, Tips and Tricks on Monday, February 15th, 2021 at 1:30 am
A stock photo of a person walking through snow because their car wouldn't start.

Do I need to warm up my car before driving in the cold? 

The dangerously unseasonable weather that is gripping Texas has really been a wake-up call. When weather patterns are this far out of the norm, people need to learn some new skills to deal with the cold. One of the most common questions that people have when the mercury dips this low is, ‘Do I need to warm up my car before driving in the cold?’ There are two answers to this question, depending on the context. If you don’t want to get into a cold vehicle, then sure warm it up. However, as far as helping the engine perform better in cold temperatures, this is an outdated idea. It might have been true in the old days when we drove vehicles without fuel injection, but that time has largely ended. Let’s take a closer look at some additional information. 

READ MORE: How does heat affect my car? 

Debunked Cold Car Myths  

Simply starting a car’s engine isn’t going to be sufficient to get components warm and lubricated. According to the several automotive experts our team spoke to, driving is the best way to make sure the vehicle is properly warmed up. Getting the engine up to the proper operating temperature will only occur when the vehicle is in motion, which also means that lubrication is getting to the places it needs to be. 

Have you heard the one about how cars get lower fuel-economy scores when it’s cold outside? That one is actually true. However, that will only be the case at the beginning of a trip. By the time your engine gets up to the right temperature, after about five to 10 minutes of driving, everything should be working just fine – assuming your vehicle is in otherwise good health. 

Is it bad to let my car warm up? 

At the end of the day, if you want to start your vehicle and let it run for a bit before driving doesn’t have much in the way of immediate negative consequences. You’ll just end up needing to refill your gas tank sooner.  

If it’s time to move on from your current vehicle to something a little newer, make an appointment with a Third Coast Auto Group product expert today.