Is warming up your car necessary before you can drive off?
Or can you just jump right in, select “D” and zoom away?
We asked Torque‘s resident mechanical engineer, Shreejit Changaroth, and he said no.
But before we get into why warming up your car is unnecessary, let’s look at why people used to (and still) subscribe to this practice.
Warming up your car used to be necessary
Decades ago, when engine and lubricant technologies weren’t as advanced, warming up your car or engine was a good idea.
This is because when your engine is at rest, all the engine oil goes back into the oil sump.
Not much lubrication is left on the moving parts that experience a lot of wear and tear.
Therefore, warming up your car was needed to get the oil circulating and lubricating again.
What’s the difference between mineral and synthetic engine oil?
This warm-up period also helped the engine oil reach its optimal temperature range, where it could offer the best protection.
Not just engines needed warming up
In some very old cars, the gearbox needed warming up, too.
Until the heat from the engine could warm the transmission fluid, it was difficult – if not impossible – to engage certain gears.
Modern cars don’t need a traditional warm-up
Today’s new cars no longer require this step.
If you were to read your owner’s manual, chances are it would instruct you to drive off in a smooth and gentle manner.
Today’s lubricants leave a film of protection over critical engine parts.
So, even if the bulk of the motor oil is back in the sump, the key components are never left bare.
And when you do fire-up the engine, the oil is able to quickly circulate and begin its lube job.
At this point, you can drive off. But avoid hard acceleration and braking for at least the first 5-10 minutes.
Your engine and motor oil will appreciate being given the chance to reach their optimal operating temperatures.
If you insist on letting your engine idle, you’re only wasting fuel and needlessly polluting the environment.