Every winter Illinois police departments warn us not to start our cars and leave the keys in the ignition unattended, but did you know doing this is actually bad for your engine too?

Should You Let Your Car Warm Up Before Driving in the Winter?

When I first started driving, (and pretty much every year since), my dad and brother told me that it is not good to drive on a cold engine during the winter and that you should always let it warm up a little first, BUT today I learned that their preaching may be totally wrong.


Why Warming Up Your Car is Bad For Your Engine

According to one WQAD article, a blog from Smart Motors Toyota says;

 letting your car idle in cold temperatures can shorten the life of your engine by stripping away oil from the engine’s pistons and cylinders.

When you start a car, an oil pump circulates the oil in less than a minute. But if you let your car idle to warm up the cabin, the oil will start to slowly drain away from the engine's key components since the engine isn’t moving the car.

Besides being bad for your engine, warming up your car in the cold is unnecessary because modern cars are designed to be driven almost immediately after starting. Most new cars have computer-controlled ignition systems that optimize performance and fuel efficiency which also help warm up the engine and other components quickly, even in cold weather.



Further research taught me that letting your car idle for an extended period can cause the engine to run colder than it would if you were driving. This is because the movement of the car helps to circulate the oil and warm up the engine while idling causes the engine to run at a lower temperature.

Will you now think twice before using your car's remote start this winter? Not only does it burn more gas that will soon be ridiculously expensive again, but it could shorten your car's engine life too. It's a tough call for me because I HATE scraping my car...and of course, I don't want to disappoint my dad and brother.

LOOK: See the iconic cars that debuted the year you were born

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli

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