Don't Follow This Popular Winter Car Tip | Houston Auto Repair Near You | Santa Ana Auto Care - Houston, TX

Don’t Follow This Popular Winter Car Tip

There’s nothing fun about getting into your car during the winter only to be met with cold leather, a frosted window, and an icy seat belt. Many people in the Houston, Texas, area like to turn on their car’s engine before driving and let it idle to warm up their car. However, this popular winter car tip may actually be damaging to your engine. Santa Ana Auto Care knows that you want to keep your car in the best shape possible, so we’ve laid out what you need to know about idling your car and its affects on the engine:


Where Did This Tip Come From?

With so many people that advise you to idle your car to warm it up, it can be difficult to believe that it can cause any harm. However, this advice is outdated, and actually refers back to when cars contained carburetors. Until the late 1980s, carburetors were the norm in cars, and they required some idling time to reach a temperature where they could run smoothly. Most cars now contain fuel-injected engines, which have sensors to adjust for the cold weather. With these sensors, idling is no longer needed, despite the advice that seemed to carry over from the carburetor days.


How Idling Can Damage Your Engine

Idling your car not only wastes fuel, it also strips oil from the piston and cylinder, two components that are critical to helping your engine run. Internal combustion engines use pistons to compress air and vaporized fuel into a cylinder. This mixture then ignites to create combustion. In colder weather, gas is less likely to evaporate, which throws off the ratio of the vaporized fuel and air. The engines in modern cars adjust to the cold weather by adding additional gas to the mixture. Until the engine reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the engine will continue to run on the added gas. Idling your vehicle does not allow the vehicle to heat up as quickly as driving does. If the car is left to run in cold weather for extended periods of time, the extra gas can get onto the cylinder walls and deteriorate them. Simply getting into your car and driving is the most effective way to heat up your engine and prevents deterioration of the cylinder walls. However, this doesn’t mean you should drive as quickly as possible to heat up your car more quickly. It takes five to fifteen minutes before driving to fully warm up your engine, so begin your drive smoothly and slowly.


Santa Ana Auto Care knows that you want to keep your engine in the best condition possible. A great way to begin is by ditching the popular winter car tip of idling your engine. For any engine or auto services you may need in the Houston, Texas, area, give Santa Ana Auto Care a call at (713) 956-1145.

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