Why do we warm up our cars when it’s cold outside?

cold freezing outside warm up car temperature air conditioner heater

(KIMT) — This time of year, it’s pretty the “normal” thing to do if it’s frosty outside: hop in the car, crank the heat, and then wait.

You probably don’t want to crank the car then leave it running and go back inside–that’s a prime target for criminals. In fact, police warn against it.

“My husband goes out, he just says I better go out and warm up the car this morning. We live out in the country so we don’t have to worry about somebody taking our car,” Diane Kafer from Manly, Iowa said.

“Go inside the vehicle and crank it up and let it sit for a minimum of two to four minutes,” Rod Hungerford from Mason City said.

So where did this idea start that you need to warm up your car on a chilly morning?

“Because I don’t like riding in a cold car and it’s good to get oil and fluids circulating,” Hungerford said.

“From what I’ve always been told by my father and my husband is that a car, it’s easier on the car to be warm,” Kafer said.

Everyone has an opinion if you should warm your car up or not–even the experts.

“Cars have been around for a long time, and lot of people have different opinions on it because old carbureted ones were much different than today’s fuel injected vehicles,” Rob Heimbuch, an automotive instructor at NIACC said.

The concept of “letting your car warm up” started in the 80’s. Heimbuch suggests letting your car warm up for one to two minutes; anything longer than that, he says, is a waste of fuel.

“Actually, driving it is going to warm it up faster, because your engine is going to be running at a higher RPM, transmission will be turning, actually getting the fluids warmed up quicker by driving it than waiting for it to warm up,” Heimbuch said.

He says your vehicle should be able to withstand any type of weather, even below zero temperatures, as long as you keep up the maintenance.

One topic all experts can agree on: never change your type of oil because of the season.

“There’s places where people feel, ‘I can run this in the summer, this in the winter.’ You should always go by the manufacturers’ recommendation,” automotive technician Jim Huinker stressed.

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