Warming up a car started as a necessary evil, but 21st century versions don’t require that effort. In fact, letting a car idle actually reduces its lifespan as well as wastes fuel and takes longer than turning it on and backing out of the driveway.
Vehicles Resemble Humans
Humans need to warm up their bodies before they stretch. Marathon runners usually take a lap or two to get oxygen coursing through their veins before they expect to extend their flexibility. A slow warm up sets your wheels in motion like driving through a neighborhood does for a car. Jumping on the freeway right after turning the keys in the ignition is no better than walking out the front door and completing a mile-long sprint, but riding the access road for at least five minutes to fully lubricate the automobile’s engine allows it to run at its full potential.
Idling Shortens the Lifespan of the Vehicle
Vehicles built before 1980, and some built after, relied on carburetors that needed warming up to get the right mix of air and fuel. Now electronic fuel injection engines are equipped with sensors that combine air and fuel systematically. When you heat up a modern auto without moving it, it begins to run rich, which means it sprays fuel on the cylinders continuously, stripping away the coat of oil. Without lubrication, the components scrape against each other and cause damage. Every time you do this, you shorten the lifespan of the motor.
It Emits Pollutants and Wastes Fuel
A 2009 study confirmed that idling, in general, creates 1.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. While that might not seem like a lot, the writing professes it is “almost double the total emissions for the iron and steel manufacturing industry.” Idling in traffic is somewhat unavoidable, although carpooling and using public transportation would reduce that number, but idling the car in the morning and while waiting can definitely be avoided, especially once the word gets out about the damage it does to the vehicle.
It Takes Longer
In this fast-paced society, no one has time to do something fruitless and time consuming. Heating up your car before driving is less effective than enduring the chill while the car warms up in motion. First of all, once your car’s engine reaches 40 degrees F, it is fully functional. So if you store it in a garage and the indoor temperature is close to 40 degrees, idling the vehicle damages the engine and only warms up the cabin minimally because it is not running in ideal conditions.
If you cannot endure the cold of the cabin, consider purchasing a vehicle with modern technology like heated seats to solve that problem. You can also wear layers and strip them off as your car temperature increases. Sipping hot beverages from insulated containers at stoplights can also help reduce the chill.
Laws have already been passed across the country restricting idling because of the environmental detriment with little or no benefit. To be prepared, check the local restrictions in your state or be on the safe side and choose not to let your vehicle idle. It will save you time and money in addition to helping the environment.