Ask LH: Do I Need To Warm My Engine Before Driving?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a relatively new 2012 model car, and I was wondering if it is still true that you have to warm up your car in the morning by turning the engine on for a while, before use? Or is that just a wives’ tale or for someone with a really old car? Thanks, Rev Ready

Photo: mabshoot

Dear RR,

Lifehacker Editor Gus handed me this question on the grounds that I drive and he doesn’t, but I have to admit that before looking into it, I didn’t precisely know one way or the other, but suspected that it wasn’t necessary for new vehicles.

It’s an argument that goes around and around and does appear to differ depending on who you ask and the type of vehicle you drive. Those into either classic or very high performance cars will swear it’s true, but for regular modern everyday cars it’s not needed, and indeed a waste of perfectly good fuel that could be getting you places.

You may see different sides to this argument, though. There’s the issue with getting the fuel moving around in the car, but that’s down to fuel injection systems, and in a modern car they’ll handle Aussie temperatures quite nicely. You may see an argument about getting the oil heated up to properly lubricate the rest of the car, but even that appears to be a furphy; an article in the Toronto Globe And Mail that covers this exact question notes that in Canadian climes (where it gets considerably colder for much longer) it’s not usual to see oil thicken up due to cold weather, right down to minus ten degrees.

So in short, no. Do your car, your wallet and the environment a favour, and simply get in your car and drive.


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