Some people believe that starting your car in the winter is a good idea because it keeps the battery charged. They also believe that it helps the engine get up to operating temperature and lubricates critical components.
However, most experts agree that this practice is unnecessary and may actually hurt your engine. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Keeping your car fueled is an important step to prevent it from running out of gas. A fully-loaded tank also allows the engine to run for a longer period of time. This can help lubricate the internal components and reduce wear.
However, it’s not a good idea to leave your vehicle unattended for an extended amount of time, especially during the winter. Leaving a car to sit for too long can lead to a variety of issues, including flat tires, battery drain, and the deterioration of the paintwork. It can even cause the battery to lose its charge, making it harder for the car to start.
Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid these issues. One is to make sure your car’s tank is full before storing it for the winter. This will prevent condensation from building up inside the tank, which can contaminate the fuel. Moreover, the condensation can freeze in the fuel lines and prevent gasoline from reaching the engine. Additionally, a full tank will make it easier for you to warm up the car in the mornings. So, whether you’re storing your vehicle in the garage or on the driveway, always keep it with a full tank of gas.
2. Clean the Engine
The winter weather can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle. It can also cause niggling problems that you may not notice until it’s too late.
For example, if you leave your car unattended for long periods of time, the engine may start to accumulate grime. Eventually, that grime will begin to build up in the combustion chambers and can affect how efficiently your car performs. You should try to drive your car at least once a week and take it for a short drive to keep the engine clean.
Aside from keeping your engine clean, starting your car frequently helps to lubricate the parts and prevent them from freezing up. The cold temperatures can also make oil thicker, so it’s important to change it regularly in the winter.
In addition, you should avoid leaving your car idling too much. It can cause your fuel tank to fill up with condensation. This can affect your fuel efficiency and lead to corrosion of the internal components.
Lastly, leaving your car unused can attract pests such as rats and roaches. These creatures can chew through wires, upholstery, and other critical parts. This can cost you a lot of money in repairs and can even compromise the safety of your vehicle. Therefore, if you can’t drive your car every day, it’s best to keep it in a garage or on a covered driveway.
3. Turn Off the Accessories
In the old days, if your car’s windshield wipers were on when you turned the key to start it, they would turn off when the engine cranked. This was to keep the battery from being taxed as it tried to crank over the engine and power accessories. Nowadays, most cars have a “accessory mode” that you can activate by turning the key in the ignition to the on position. This turns on all the accessories except the starter motor and fuel pump.
While some of these items, such as the music system and touchscreen might be fun to use, they can drain your battery. Using the seat heaters or climate control will also take their toll, as these components draw on the same electrical systems that your battery must use when starting the engine.
If you will be storing your car long-term, you may want to invest in a trickle charger or battery maintainer to keep the battery charged and prevent it from draining too quickly. Another tip is to not over-drive your car, especially in cold weather. Keeping your speed down and letting the engine warm up before driving will also help your battery last longer. In general, experts recommend a few short drives per week to keep your battery topped up. This is the best way to avoid a dead battery in the winter.
4. Don’t Let the Car Idle
Whether you’re stuck in a snowbank at the side of the road or in traffic at a stoplight, it may seem like it would take forever to start your car and move on if you leave it running. Many people make the mistake of starting their cars and letting them idle for several minutes before driving off on cold winter days. However, this is not only harmful to your car but also bad for the environment.
Despite popular belief, idling your car on cold mornings actually does not warm the engine or the cabin. The reason for this is that the car needs to be driven in order to warm up. This is because idling your car creates a gasoline-rich air-fuel mixture that strips oil away from the engine’s pistons and cylinders, according to a website post by Smart Motors.
As a result, the oil does not reach the engine to replace what is lost. Over time, this can shorten the life of your engine.
To avoid this problem, experts recommend only allowing your car to idle for the time it takes you to buckle your seatbelt. You can then drive off slowly (at residential neighbourhood speeds) and your engine will warm up much faster than if you let it sit and idle. You should also keep your fuel tank full, as this prevents condensation from forming in the gas tank and leading to hard-start conditions.