Winter driving myths: You need to let your car idle before driving during winter months

Only true for carbureted engines
Posted at 7:38 PM, Dec 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-18 19:38:44-05

Winter weather has arrived and the cold temperatures are here to stay. 

Most of us have heard the idea: Your car needs to idle for several minutes before its ready to hit the road during the winter months.

But, owner of Bruce's Automotive and Fleet Services, in Lakewood, Bruce Henthorn, said idling newer models cars is unnecessary and it could do more harm than good. 

Idling was more prevalent during the 1980s and early 1990s, when cars were built with cerebrated engines.

"You had to pump the gas a few times to make sure the fast idle popped up and then you had to pump the gas to step it down," Henthorne said. "Then it had a manual or electric choke and that's what took time, for it to open up." 

But when the auto industry switched to electric fuel injection, this essentially eliminated that idling time.

Henthorn said now it should only take 30 seconds for most cars on the road today.

He also advised against idling a car for extended periods of time. Henthorn said it wastes gas and increases air pollution.

"If you're leaving it run make sure you're constantly watching it for smoke or steam because you just never know," he said.

Henthorn's best advice for drivers during the winter: Getting the oil changed in your car.

"That way they [mechanics] get their eyes on other fluid levels to make sure everything's full. We're in for a long winter this year so I'd get on top now because we're going to see a lot of broken down cars."