Warming Your Car in Winter Can Burn a Hole in Your Pocket

by : Scott Siegel

Winter can be a difficult time for car owners. Winter does it's best to wreak havoc on your fuel economy. You may be an unwitting ally in hurting your fuel economy. How your car warms up in cold weather could burn a hole in your pocket.

The first thing you need to do in cold weather get out of the habit of letting your car warm up when you start it. Old cars may have needed some warm up time, today's cars don't.

Many drivers idle their car for 5 to 10 minutes in the winter to let their cars warm up. You should not let your car idle for more than 30 seconds. You need no more than 30 seconds of idling to circulate the engine oil before you can drive away on cold days

When you idle your car to warm it up you are burning gas but not going anywhere. When you let that happen you are getting zero miles per gallon. You may think that idling your car for few minutes or so is no big deal, think again.

To give yourself an idea about how much gas you would be burning by just letting your car idle for 5 minutes each time you start it think about this. Assume you idle for 5 minutes when you start your car in the morning. Assume you idle for 5 minutes again, sometime during the day when you start your car again to drive home.

That would be idling your car for 10 minutes per day. If we consider winter to be November, December, January and February, then winter would be considered to be 120 days long. If you idle your car for 10 minutes a day for 120 days that amounts to 1200 minutes of idling.

1200 Minutes of idling is equal to 20 hours. That means that by warming your car up by idling for only 5 minutes amounts to letting your car sit and idle, burning gas and going nowhere, for 20 hours. Would you ever let you car sit and idle for 20 hours? Of course not. Then why would you idle for the equivalent of 20 hours warming your car up if you don't have to?

Warm your car up by driving it. To operate efficiently your car needs to warm up other parts in addition to the engine. Tires, transmission, wheel bearings and other moving parts also need to warm up. Your car's catalytic converter doesn't function at its peak until it reaches between 400 degrees and 800 degrees. The only way these other parts warm up is by driving. The reality is, to warm your car up completely you have to drive it anyway.

To save gas and increase gas mileage in the winter one of the simplest things you can do is warm your car by driving it, not by idling. Not only will it save you gas and money but you will also be doing something positive for the environment. That warm car will stop burning a hole in your pocket.