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Warming Up Your Engine? Think Again On That

December 31st, 2016

A lot of people think it’s a good idea to start a vehicle and let it warm up to operating temperature for several minutes before driving away…but in reality, it isn’t such a Winter Maintenance in Anchorage AKgreat idea.

Fuel injection systems deliver a richer fuel mixture to the engine for the first couple of minutes. That means that while your vehicle idles, it’s burning a lot of gas and that raw gas is making it into the combustion chambers…where it thins out the motor oil and actually increases engine wear due to friction.

It also means that more water vapor is being circulated in the engine, which contaminates the oil. The practice of idling an engine to warm up dates back to the days of carburetors, when the choke would close off air to the engine for the first few minutes and the engine’s fast idle would keep it running at higher idle speed. Come to think of it, it wasn’t really such a good idea then, either.

The engine will reach full oil pressure in the first few seconds after starting, and from there it will actually warm up a lot faster if you start driving and put the engine under load, rather than letting it sit and idle. That being said, take it easy for those first 5 to 15 minutes…stomping on the gas pedal and taking off fast before the engine warms up isn’t a good either.

Winters in Anchorage can be pretty rough, so if you’re worried about your car’s winter preparedness you can take the following steps:

  1. Have the oil changed and switch to synthetic oil, which is less prone to thicken up in cold weather.
  2. Have your cooling system flushed and refilled with fresh antifreeze to protect against freeze ups.
  3. Consider investing in a block heater to protect your engine during subzero weather and make startup a little easier.

Got any questions about winter maintenance and preparedness? Make an appointment with us at AlignmentCenter AK and let us make sure your engine’s ready for the cold months ahead! 

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101