Stop Starting Your Engine To An Early Grave –  Cold Facts About Cold Starts

  • If you must drive, choose  a car that has been driven recently, rather than the one that has been sitting.
  • Starting a cold car? Warm up for 30 seconds, drive gently and avoid use of heater or air conditioning for at least 10  minutes.
by Gordon Yaswen, certified instructor of automotive technology, California Community Colleges

When you crank an engine unused for over 4 hours, the initial lack of proper lubrication wears parts the equivalence of a warm-engine cruise of 500 miles, and as such constitutes 95% of all engine wear (Society of Automotive Engineers)! This is followed by a 5 times normal wear rate until operating temperature to add, even in a mile of travel, another 50 in abrasion, for a total of 550 miles-worth of deterioration! Meanwhile during cold-run, driveability is poor, fuel consumption doubles and air pollution is 40 times normal. Warm-ups cannot help this, but by lessening further damage are useful….to a point of about 30 seconds followed by gentle driving, since longer warm-ups only prolong cold-run problems.

In other words, those cold starts are costing you, and your environment, far more than you believed, and perhaps enough to reconsider how and when to travel many trips. There are, however, ways to minimize the harm:

  • Car-pool, bus, bike, walk
  • Cluster your errands into the same trips to minimize cold-starts
  • If there’s a choice, use the engine that’s still warm
  • Park where you needn’t move your car until the next drive, and can drive off with minimum maneuvering
  • Until engine achieves normal temperature, drive gently and avoid use of heat or air conditioning for at least 10  minutes.