Verify: Do you really need to warm up your car before driving?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11) -- We all want our vehicles to run as best as they can any time of year. As we're entering a stretch of very cold weather, the Verify team sought to find out if warming up your car for a few minutes actually helps the vehicle's performance.
To verify the answer, we enlisted the help of Verify sources: U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency, which operates under the Environmental Protection Agency. We also spoke to Kentucky's AAA Auto Services Operations Manager, Richard Howard.
"People pass it down, you talk to people, and said, 'Oh no, you've got to warm up your vehicle, you're going to run into problems if you don't,'" Howard said.
He said you would run into problems by not warming your car up only if your vehicle is older and relies on a carburetor.
"Carbureted vehicles, the fuel would need to be warmed up, the cars need to be warmed up. That prevented it from stalling out on the streets when people would pull up to a light and your car wasn't warmed up."
It wasn't until the 1980's and 1990's auto industry leaders scrapped carburetors and turned to electronic fuel injection.
The change led experts at the Department of Energy to write on its fueleconomy.gov website, "Most manufacturers recommend driving off gently after about 30 seconds. The engine will warm up faster being driven, which will allow the heat to turn on sooner, decrease your fuel costs and reduce emissions," adding, "Idling gets 0 miles per gallon."
Another reason to avoid warming up your car: in many areas, including Hampton Roads, leaving a car running with no one inside -- even if the vehicle is locked -- is illegal.
The conclusion from our Verify experts said the need to warm up a modern car to keep it from stalling: "It's a myth...we don't have to warm up our cars like we had to."
Dept. of Energy / Environmental Protection Agency http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/coldweather.shtml
Richard Howard – AAA East Central Auto Services Operations Manager