Sure, it's winter, and it's cold outside. If you have to drive somewhere and your car has been sitting outside, your car is going to be cold. But idling your car to warm it up isn't doing that much.
Driving the car heats the engine more quickly than simple idling, and will get the system heated up more quickly. Even in very cold weather, only a few seconds of idling is needed to get the car ready to drive. Running the engine to drive the car will warm up the heater faster, as well as getting you to your destination more quickly so that the engine has to run for a shorter length of time.
Idling also burns fuel less efficiently than when the engine is under load. Letting the engine idle to warm it up means that in addition to the carbon dioxide being emitted from the tailpipe, there will be more incompletely burned compounds going into the air. Engine idling puts more volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, benzene and other pollutants into the atmosphere. And, in winter conditions, emissions from idling vehicles are more than double the normal level immediately after a cold start.
As the CarTalk guys say, "The fact is, cars these days don't need to be warmed up. Except in below-zero conditions, you can just start the engine and drive off."
Yet another hat tip to John Beeson!
written by Asaf Shalgi, January 09, 2011
written by Miller, January 10, 2011
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