I always remember my mom saying, “we need to warm up the car before we drive,” especially when it is cold outside. I always wondered why the car needed to idle as we sat patiently or most often impatiently waiting to leave the driveway. The answer was always the same, “the car needs to warm up.” I thought sitting with the car in idle meant the car needed time for the heater to engage and warm up the inside. In the winter months, the cutting cold of an early morning car sent chills up the spine from October through the end of February. Later, my mom informed me that the lengthy idle was not to warm up the inside of the car, but to warm up the engine. This made no sense.
Isn’t this just wasting gas? Yes, many times it is a complete waste of gas. Modern cars do not need to warm up the engine with an idle. The computers on our cars are so efficient the the only thing that you are doing when leaving the car on idle to “warm up” is using gas for the comfort of the passengers. Even though our cars are environmentally safe, we still need to be mindful of pollution when leaving our car running for too long.
The bottom line is, you don’t need to warm up your car’s engine by leaving it in idle. However, when the wind is bitter and the cold is unbearable, it is nice to have the option to start the car with the key fab while still inside the warm comfort of your home.