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Do I Need to Warm My Car Up In Summer?

Short answer: Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, no, it’s not necessary, not at all. By the late 1980’s fuel injection systems were introduced and made warming up the car in the morning an antiquated process. It’s a myth that you need to warm up your car in the morning. 

Warming up your car can actually do more harm than good, here’s why:

It’s Harmful to Your Engine

Too much idling can place strain on your engine and affects internal components such as the emissions system, cylinders, and the spark plugs. When your car is warmed up, extra fuel is put into the combustion chamber, which over time sticks to the cylinders and too much gasoline on the cylinders dissolves engine oil that is needed for preventing metal on metal contact. A vehicle that is using too much fuel while the engine is running causes the engine to run too rich, meaning it’s not receiving enough air. 

It’s Harmful to Your Wallet

According to the EPA, cars that are left idling consume as much as one quarter to half a gallon of fuel every hour. Over time that results in wasted fuel and more trips to the gas station, costing you more money.

It’s Harmful to the Environment

No matter how efficient your vehicle is, car idling contributes to emissions that cause pollution. A seemingly harmless 10-minute warm-up or run into the store can emit up to one pound of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Think about how much has changed since your childhood and the old family station wagon. More safety features such as air bags and rear back up cameras have been added, those old crank windows are now electric, shiny metal seatbelt housings that burned your legs in the summer are now cooler plastic housings, and even the analog radio knobs have changed to digital interactive screens. Those changes are just what you can see on the inside. Under the hood has had vast changes as well.

Cars today are equipped with fuel injected engines, but the family station wagon likely had a carburetor. Warming up the family car was the norm because it would take a significant amount of time for the choke to produce the perfect mixture of air and fuel to be sent to the engine. 

Without having the correct air to fuel mixture, cars would end up sputtering or stalling out completely. Modern vehicles come equipped with electronic fuel injection sensors that take place of the choke to produce the perfect combination of air and fuel right away. 

Unlike today’s cars, carbureted engines did not have sensors to make adjustments to the air and fuel ratio. The engine relied heavily on the choke which would temporarily enhance the air intake in order to produce a richer mixture. While it solved the air/fuel ratio problem, drivers disliked the choked carb as it made it harder to drive and over time would cause damage to spark plugs. To combat the issue, drivers began warming up their vehicles before driving to avoid stall outs. 

How do I properly start the car?

While warming up your vehicle is unnecessary, turning the engine on and taking off isn’t the best idea either. When it’s time to go make a habit of turning your car on, letting it run for just a minute, and then take off easily. Allow your car to naturally warm itself up and avoid driving at high speeds for the first few minutes on the road. Just a minute is all your car needs to allow the engine and other fluids to warm up. 

Create a checklist of sorts when you get into your car in the morning. Start off by starting the car, putting on your seatbelt, adjusting the temperature to your comfort, program your GPS to your desired destination, and if you like, turn on the radio. By the time you’re done, your car will be ready to go. 

Whether it’s the old family station wagon or a brand-new, shiny sports car, Sun Devil Auto is here to keep your car ready for the road. Maintenance including oil changes, fluid flushes, and repairs including engines and complex transmissions are no problem for our expert Technicians. In addition to using OEM parts, we also offer an incredible two-year 24,000-mile nationwide warranty that ensures you’re covered whether you’re in the Phoenix area or driving across the country. We’re here to help and answer any questions you may have. Visit any of our locations today for all your automotive needs in the Phoenix Metro area.