By   January 10, 2018

Porsche 911 Carrera T and 911 Targa

How Do You Warm Up A Classic Or New Car

Warming up your car is vital to keeping your vehicle on the road. Along with regular maintenance it is one of the most important things an automotive owner can do. However, there is a lot of confusion out there about warming up your car.

Many now say that you shouldn’t warm up a new car. They claim that you just waste gas and pollute while you let your car get up to temperature. Others say that even new cars should be warmed up to keep your car on the road for a longer period of time.

Should you warm up your car and if so, how should you do it?

Many have claimed that if you drive a newer car that there is no need to warm up the car as you are just wasting gasoline. This is partly true but has led some to think you just drive it like you stole it right from leaving the house.

With an internal combustion engine friction builds up which warms the motor. In a water cooled engine radiators cool water that passes through the engine block to help keep temperatures down once they have reached a certain level (air-cooled cars keep temperatures down by using air to cool the engine oil). However, revving your engine before it has reached the operating temperature can do quite a bit of damage to the heart of the car. Idling for extended periods of time is also not good for lubrication because oil pressure is low.

So, just how should you warm your engine up to operating temperature while keeping the engine oil pressure at a good level? The answer is to drive the car. Yes, you shouldn’t leave cars that are newer than the early-80’s to warmup at idle. Instead, simply drive them once you start them, but do so gently.

Each car is a little different, but you want to keep the RPM’s low. In general that means keeping them under 3,000 RPM’s when you first drive off (and in some cars under 2,500 RPM’s). The driving will allow the oil pressure at a good level and by keeping the RPM’s relatively low all the engine parts can heat up to operating temperature. Once the car warms up then feel free to rev it a bit when needed, but until then you could cause premature engine wear.

The reason why just driving a car off the lot and revving it like there is no tomorrow hurts the engine is that all of the internal parts do not warm up at the same rate. Because of this some parts will get warm quickly while others take a bit more time. Revving it out, to say get on the freeway, when the engine hasn’t heated up fully causes unneeded stress on parts because the temps are not in the same range.

So, simply keeping the revs down will let you warmup the vehicle with decent oil pressure while not wasting gas.

That’s all fine and good for a newer car, but what about classics? Should you let at 60’s or 70’s car idle a bit before driving it?

For classic cars, letting your car warm up (idling sometimes for as much as much as 10 full minutes in colder winter weather) before driving the car is very important. That is in general the case for carbureted cars. In warmer summer climates it may take about 2 minutes or so to let them warm up and then you want to drive it easy until it reaches operating temperature.

The biggest difference in letting a classic car with carburetors instead of electric fuel injection warm up is that letting it idle for a few minutes is required to help everything get to operating temperatures. Once you let it idle for a minute or so (much more if you are in a colder climate), drive it just as you would a newer car. Keep the RPM’s low until operating temperature is reached and don’t push it until you reach the normal operating temperature.

No matter if you drive a newer car or a vintage classic all cars need to be warm up before being driven vigorously. The result in not doing so could be very costly. You may not need to let a newer car idle, but in general how you drive a cold car is the same, no matter the year or make.

Do you have any experience in what happens when you don’t warm up a car properly? Scroll down to the comments and let us know.


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