I don’t drive, but I still read this article on the myth of warming up the car before you drive in the winter with some interest. But I was disappointed when I got to the end, because there was no mention of the reason I was always given for why we did that. When I asked, the answer almost never had anything to do with stalling or carburetors or anything else they’re saying. It was much simpler than that. If you let the car run for a minute or two before you head out, it was explained to young me, the air that comes out of the heater will be warm as soon as you turn it on and you won’t have to suffer through an extra blast of freezing cold. Seemed sensible enough at the time, and since everybody I knew did it, it must be true. Or maybe not.
If your concern is not the health of the car, but simply your own creature comforts, energy experty Bob Aldrich 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.
Makes quite a bit more sense when you think about it, doesn’t it?
So stop idling, everyone. And kids, remember to Google pretty much everything an adult tells you, because there’s a good chance it’s going to be wrong.