We have seen some catchy Facebook posts and articles lately raising this question:

Do you really need to warm up your car when it is cold out?

Now anyone who grew up with a dad will remember having to run out to the car on a cold January morning to start it so the engine would be warm by the time the family was ready to leave for church.

But do you know why?

Did dad make you run out there to warm up the car because he just didn’t want to be cold? Would the engine blow up if you didn’t? Was dad just trying to help you “build character”?

Here is why everyone since the dawn of the automobile has warmed up their cars in the cold:

Cars need oil. Without it the metal parts of the engine will rub other metal parts and wear down very quickly which will cause your engine to break. AND oil was quite thick, like molasses, when cold, so until it was warmed up it was too thick to really work its way into the small spaces it needed to in order to lubricate your engine.

So your dad wasn’t just cold, nor was he trying to help you develop into a better person. You really were helping save the engine of your car.

Also, gasoline is thicker in the cold as well, so cars which had carburetors would stall if they were not warmed up first.



Around 30 – 40 years ago a couple things changed.

Oil is now lighter than it was before, meaning it is not nearly as thick and is able to do its job without warming up as much.

Also if you have a car that is less than 30 years old it is pretty much guaranteed to be fuel injected, which means it does not have a carburetor and it will not stall if you don’t warm it up first.


So what should you do?

Here is the general consensus among experts: If it is cold outside, and it doesn’t matter how cold, start your car and let it idle for about 30 seconds. Then go ahead and drive out of your neighborhood. Now, don’t immediately slam on the gas and hit 60 MPH as fast as you can. Keep it under 30 MPH until you are out of your neighborhood, but then you are good to go.


If you don’t let your car idle, yes you are getting into a cold car (sorry dad), but you aren’t killing your car PLUS you are saving money on gas by not wasting it in your driveway! And you aren’t putting out as much emissions and polluting the environment so you can feel good about yourself as well.

We hope everyone finds this useful and want to know what you think! Let us know in the comments if your dad used to make you go start the car too.


What else did your dad make you do as a kid that looking back you still don’t know why?

Want to know how else to save money on your car maintenance?