In cold weather, does a car need time to warm up?

Are modern cars immediately ready to go in the winter?


Our cars are not nearly as sensitive to cold weather as we humans are. Modern cars need to run only for about 30 seconds in Colorado’s typical winter weather before they’re ready to go.

  • Give your engine time to receive the lubrication oil, which is all sitting in the bottom of your oil pan before the car starts. Your engine, along with other fluid-driven systems, will likely receive the oil it needs within a few seconds; but most manufacturers recommend around 30 seconds for this process, just to be safe.
  • Older, carbureted vehicles typically need a minute or two to warm up in cold weather, only because the age of the car has caused some vital systems to begin to fail (control of warm air flow, idling speed and fuel enrichment). Carbureted vehicles that are working as designed when new need no additional warm-up time.
  • One practical reason for a little warm-up time: It gives the car’s heater a chance to become more effective and allows the window defroster to work sooner. The downside is, the “extra” burning of fuel emits extra pollutants into the clean, crisp Colorado air.

We should also note that many cities in the Denver area have a law against “puffing,” which is the practice of letting your vehicle run while unattended.

Bottom line: Save your time, money and our environment!