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Old 01-08-2011, 10:40 AM   #1
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Do you do this and why ?

Old habits die hard, and one of the oldest — still rigorously enforced by many drivers — is that "warming up" the car for a few minutes is necessary to avoid some kind of unspecified damage.

But idling is totally unnecessary, which is why many communities have enacted ordinances against the practice.

Don't take my word about idling being ineffective, but do listen to my mechanic, Rob Maier, who runs Maier's Garage in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

He says, "You don't really need to idle your car, because of the efficiency of modern fuel injection, which eliminated carburetors and chokes. The only reason to let the car idle at all is to get the oil circulating, but after 30 seconds that's a done deal. My truck has 150,000 miles on it, and I just throw it into gear and go."

Here are some quick facts and tips that should put the idling question to rest:

1. Driving warms the car faster than idling
If your concern is not the health of the car, but simply your own creature comforts, Bob Aldrich of the California Energy Commission points out that "idling is not actually an effective way to warm up a car — it warms up faster if you just drive it."

The coming electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, will incorporate a wonderful feature that allows the owner to use a cellphone to tell the car (which is plugged into the grid) to pre-warm or pre-cool the interior. No idling necessary.

2. Ten seconds is all you need
Environmental Defense Fund, which produced the Idling Gets You Nowhere campaign, advises motorists to turn off their ignition if they're sitting stopped for more than 10 seconds.

"After about 10 seconds, you waste more money running the engine than restarting it, said Andy Darrell, deputy director of the EDF Energy Program. "Switch the car off at the curb, and you'll be leaving money in your wallet and protecting the air in your community."

3. Idling hurts the car
According to the Hinkle Charitable Foundation's Anti-Idling Primer, idling forces an engine "to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine's performance and reduce mileage."

The Campaign for an Idle-Free New York City points out that idling causes carbon residues to build up inside the engine, which reduces its efficiency.
[ Related: Five secrets to make your car last longer and save you money. ]

4. Idling costs money
Over a year of five minutes of daily idling (which causes incomplete combustion of fuel), the "Anti-Idling Primer" estimates that the operator of a V8-engine car will waste 20 gallons of gasoline, which not only produces 440 pounds of carbon dioxide but costs at least $60.

5. Idling in the garage can kill you
Idling a car in a garage, even with the door open, is dangerous and exposes the driver to carbon monoxide and other noxious gases. If the garage is attached, those fumes can also enter the house.
[ Related: Six surprising sources of indoor air pollution. ]

6. Block heaters beat remote starters
Lori Strothard of the Waterloo Citizens Vehicle Idling Reduction Task Force in Canada says, "Remote starters can too easily cause people to warm up their cars for 5 to 15 minutes, which is generally unnecessary."
A block heater, which is designed to heat the engine and can cost under $30, on a timer set to start one to two hours before driving, does the trick in very cold climates.

7. Quick errands aren't quick enough
Natural Resources Canada points out that leaving your car idling while you're running into a store on an errand or going back into the house to pick up a forgotten item is another way to waste gas and pollute both your town and the planet.

"Leaving your engine running is hard on your pocketbook, produces greenhouse gas emissions, and is an invitation to car thieves," the agency (PDF) says.

8. Idling is bad for your health (and your neighbor's health)
According to Minneapolis' anti-idling ordinance, "Exhaust is hazardous to human health, especially children's; studies have linked air pollution to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies."

Isabelle Silverman, who runs EDF's anti-idling campaign, says that car idling "is the second-hand smoking of the outdoors. One of the problems is that cars idle close to the curb, where pedestrians are walking. And when you have a child in a stroller, they are particularly close to the tailpipe. Studies show that children's IQ levels are lower when they live near major roads with lots of traffic." (A fresh study even links autism to freeway pollution.)

Alex Scaperotta, who created an anti-idling campaign with a classmate when he was in fifth grade in Wilton, Connecticut, came up with a slogan that was used on bumper stickers and websites: "If you're stopped for more than 10, turn it off and on again." Sounds like good advice.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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Even worse is the old addage of just starting a car that's been sitting just to 'get the oil flowing'. Excessive Idle and hard cold starts are about the worst things you can do to an engine.

Aside from putting bleach in the tank. :/
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:28 AM   #3
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I warm my old truck up so it's nice and warm when I get inside and the windows are defrosted. I warm my Trailblazer SS up because I don't like to hear the piston slap when I drive.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:40 AM   #4
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:00 PM   #5
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Byron, each of the points posted, while valid, are from an environmentalists point of view. However what is missing is that a warm engine produces less emissions than a cold engine. OEMs are working hard on technologies that warm the engine and transmission quicker.

I have no idea what temps a block heater provide, but the intent is to prevent freezing, not get an engine to opperating temperature quickly. If they were really good at pre heating a car, I think it would be a more popular option in areas other than Canada and the Northern most states. Can anyone speak to this? Does it actually give you a car that is heated and warm prior to driving?

Upcoming Start/Stop technologies (Hybrids have this today) will adress many of the problems in the points you posted.

End of the day, the most damaging thing you can do to an engine is a cold start. No oil pressure and cold oil that isn't flowing wear parts that depend on lubrication. Idling an engine with no load is far less damaging as long as engine lubrication and temperature are maintained. It just isn't as emissions friendly as a non-running engine.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:49 PM   #6
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The "standard" GM Block Heater option, K05, is a non-circulating type of heater. Basically, this heater element heats the water in the block, which keeps the block and its internals warmer and therefore easier to "turn over" on start-up. Tests in Kapuskasing demonstrate its usefulness in aiding cold start-up @ temps below -30 in aluminum-alloy blocks (and is therefore no longer standard equipment in such-equipped vehicles in Canada), while its effectiveness is enhanced at somewhat warmer temps in cast iron blocks.

The aftermarket does offer circulating, in-line coolant heater/circulators that would in fact aid heater/defroster performance upon start-up. Something to beware of, though, is the effect of much warmer initial-temp air on a very cold glass surface...it's called "fogging"...

Regardless of what some folks may say about "idling" and/or "warm-up", NO ONE should recommend you fire a vehicle up and IMMEDIATELY slam it into gear and motor away...even synthetic oil is considerably "thicker" after a night in sub-zero weather than at regular operating temp.

Those "parade laps" before the green flag at races aren't for commercials...they're to allow the cars to get some "heat" into rearends and transmissions 'n such, just like pit start-ups at drag races with the vehicle on jackstands...
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOWDOWN View Post
Regardless of what some folks may say about "idling" and/or "warm-up", NO ONE should recommend you fire a vehicle up and IMMEDIATELY slam it into gear and motor away...even synthetic oil is considerably "thicker" after a night in sub-zero weather than at regular operating temp.
Well I dunno about some people but I start my car first, fire up the A/C, set some tunes, and buckle my seat belt before releasing the parking brake and shifting it into reverse/1st.

In that span it would probably have idled for 45 seconds to a minute.
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:32 AM   #8
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I do it with the Jeep,I don't think it will like it at 20 degrees for me to jump in,start him up and drive off.

The VW GTI could care less............
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:37 AM   #9
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Zabo View Post
Well I dunno about some people but I start my car first, fire up the A/C, set some tunes, and buckle my seat belt before releasing the parking brake and shifting it into reverse/1st.

In that span it would probably have idled for 45 seconds to a minute.

As said, above, in Byron's OP, "30 seconds" is 'way different than some folks who literally turn the key and GO! I know of people who simply do not idle...and on a very cold day, that 1st 30 seconds is crucial!

By your estimation, "45 seconds" at least gets things circulating...and if you have to scrape windows, and/or brush off snow, that all takes a minute or two as well...

BTW, using your A/C to HEAT the vehicle WILL reduce window fogging inside...air from the A/C is dehumidified!
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:29 PM   #11
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I warm my old truck up so it's nice and warm when I get inside and the windows are defrosted
Same here with my 98, especially since she sits outside now cuz the 5th gen gets the garage!
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:17 PM   #12
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Byron, each of the points posted, while valid, are from an environmentalists point of view. However what is missing is that a warm engine produces less emissions than a cold engine. OEMs are working hard on technologies that warm the engine and transmission quicker.
I'm not sure of the relevance of that though. Afterall, an engine starts out cold whether you idle it or not. And it gets up to temperature sooner if you're driving it vs idling. So idling an engine to warm it up for emission purposes isn't that good of a reason, since the alternative (driving) is better.

*edit*
as for the original question, I turn my car on and idle only long enough to get going (scrape windows, buckle in, adjust radio, etc). And although its never much of an issue, I never stomp on the gas until the engine is up to temperature.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:21 PM   #13
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I've seen alot of threads popping up lately up in arms over this topic. I warm up all of my cars and will continue to do so.

Obviously, there is no need to idle for more than a minute or two BUT- regardless of what type of oil you use, you should give it a second to thoroughly circulate before you put the motor under a load. Specualte all you want, I can feel the difference when I don't warm the car at least a little.

Seems everyone suddenly feels it's not only unneccessary, but harmful to your motor. I humbly disagree, and will kick the soapbox out from under you every time...


/rant.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:22 PM   #14
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I warm up the oven before sticking in the meat.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:39 PM   #15
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I warm up the oven before sticking in the meat.


I'm not about to drive to work in a cold car, only to have it warm by the time I'm there.
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:05 PM   #16
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Byron, each of the points posted, while valid, are from an environmentalists point of view. .....
I'm with the engineer on this one. There has been a push, first @ state level, now @ fed level to reduce idling emissions. Look at the sources of information in the OP.

Quote:
Bob Aldrich of the California Energy Commission
Environmental Defense Fund, which produced the Idling Gets You Nowhere campaign
Hinkle Charitable Foundation's Anti-Idling Primer
The Campaign for an Idle-Free New York City
the Waterloo Citizens Vehicle Idling Reduction Task Force in Canada
Minneapolis' anti-idling ordinance
Alex Scaperotta, who created an anti-idling campaign with a classmate when he was in fifth grade in Wilton, Connecticut
When it's good and cold outside, (20 below really makes the point well) leave some motor oil near your car, and leave some inside. Look at the difference. You can idle for a minute and let it thin, or go ahead and gas on it with your pistons moving at 3,000 rpms on dry cylinders. (and lifters, bearings, etc.)

No thanks, tree hugger, I'll be idling.
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Old 01-10-2011, 07:20 AM   #17
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I do agree that a driven car gets up to temps quicker than idling. I let it idle for about 30-45 seconds then its off at low rpm.
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Old 01-10-2011, 07:29 AM   #18
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RRS:

Get in, fire it up, usually while fastening the seat belt, drive off slowly. Makes a lovely whooshing sound when the turbo spools up the first time.

Unless the windscreen is frozen, like this morning, then I let it idle until the window's warmed up (in the Range that is).

TVR:

open the garage and fire it up, drive it out of the garage on idle, close the garage, get in and drive off keeping it below 2500rpm under 40°C, then gradually increase with 1.000rpm as temperature rises with 10 degrees. As per manual, basically.

Camaro: will most certainly do the same as with the TVR, once I have it
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:42 AM   #19
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my car definitely idles differently for awhile after a cold start when it's below freezing. The initial exhaust roar is also a lot less pronounced. So in the winter I let my car warm up for a minute before driving off. I don't turn off my engine whenever I come to a stop light because that's stupid and a great way to get honked at when you're cranking your engine instead of driving off.

I do turn my car off an lock it if I am just running inside a building for a minute. But thats only because I don't want to leave the keys in the car.

I also bought a V8, so suck it environmentalists
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