How long should you let a car run in cold weather before driving?

United States
January 26, 2007 9:34am CST
My rule of thumb is 5-10 minutes depending on how cold it is outside. If it is below zero I will run it for 15 minutes. Our neighbor will run theirs for 30 minutes. That is overkill if you ask me.
17 people like this
39 responses
@lauriefnp (5113)
• United States
26 Jan 07
I'm not good about running the car before I drive it. I park it in the garage, so I just go out, start it, and drive. I don't know if that's actually bad for it or not- does anybody know? It runs fine, even when it's cold. I do drive a new car every 3-4 years, so that helps, I'm sure. I'm just too lazy to go out and start the car and come back in to kill 5-10 minutes before leaving.
@mari61960 (4895)
• United States
26 Jan 07
I found some information about it being bad.. http://www.sierraauto.com/myths.htm#startup I also found this on another site; Myth #1: The engine should be warmed up before driving. Reality: Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to do this is to drive the vehicle. With today's modern engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before driving away. This is the policy I follow.
@lauriefnp (5113)
• United States
26 Jan 07
Thank you so much for posting this information! I guess that I was doing it right all along, even without knowing it! This is good to know, just for the sake of "conversations" in the future.
@mari61960 (4895)
• United States
26 Jan 07
I was alway told that it wasn't necessary to warm up the car more that a minute. The only time I warm my car up is if I am taking someone with me and I am getting some heat for them before they get in. I can't imagine the waste of gas running the car for 30 minutes. Now is the time we should be conserving energy not wasting it.
@brokentia (10397)
• United States
26 Jan 07
Seriously...are are supposed to let the run the car before we drive it??? And here I thought people just warmed it up so they wouldn't feel cold! ha ha I don't warm up my car even when it is cold. That would just take more gas and with gas prices today, I don't want to waste any. So in we all jump and I drive them to school. By the time I am dropping them off at the curb of the school, it if finally warm. LOL
3 people like this
@rsmith512 (1563)
• United States
28 Jan 07
Hahahaha! I don't think that they are saying you have to warm your car, just how long do you think it will take to finally warm up the car!! That was funny! LOL And, by the time you are home...the car is just getting up to the temperature that you wanted!! :)
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Jan 07
My husband says 5 to 10 minutes is a good rule. 30 minutes is definately and overkill. Dang, that's cold. I freeze at 70 degrees.
3 people like this
• United States
27 Jan 07
if it is really cold about 10 minutes and if its not too bad about 5 i know what you mean about letting a car run too long a have a neighbor with a very noisey truck run for 30 mins and it is always at about 10 at night thats when he goes to work it drives me crazy
2 people like this
• United States
28 Jan 07
We have neighbors who do the same. You always know when they are coming or going. It sounds like a tank.
2 people like this
@bank84 (94)
• United States
27 Jan 07
It's depend. Sometime 2 min if i m in hurry; 10 minutes if i not in hurry.
2 people like this
@Khokhonut (702)
• United States
27 Jan 07
I let mine warm up 5 min. or so I guess. Here in Colorado Springs the police can actually ticket you if you leave your car unattended to warm up, even if it is your own driveway. I think that is the most ridiculous thing. They started that last winter when people would go out and start their cars and go back in and their car would get stolen. They say it is a waste of police resources ... oh brother.
2 people like this
@KrisNY (7609)
• United States
27 Jan 07
In all honesty- it depends on if I remembered to put gas in the car- : ) No really.. I try to let it warm up for at least 5 minutes- My sig. other always says you have to wait longer-- The oil needs to circulate through the motor or you will seize it up. Well I've been doing it for 15 years and I haven't had one seize up yet! MEN! lol If I'm in a huge hurry-- Its start the car- brush off the snow and go! At work I go out and start it 10 mintues early..
@wiessied (646)
• United States
27 Jan 07
ild say about five-ten minutes is right, but i park in a garage so i usally dont have to worry bout this.
2 people like this
@missyd79 (3442)
• United States
26 Jan 07
15 minutes max for me, but i hate having to scrap the windows so if they are not completely melted when i go out i will sit in the car for like another 5 minutes, but 30 minutes is a little over kill.
2 people like this
@mist3ryo (158)
• Romania
26 Jan 07
u can let it rule about 10-15 minutes.in 15 minutes no mathers that is below 0 because in 15 minutes is good to go.if u let it 30 minutes yeah u right u have the chance to overkill it.
2 people like this
• Kuwait
26 Jan 07
as to my country unlike your that snowing maybe 15minutes or so,but here maybe 5-10 minutes is just fine before driving when it is cold weather.here in the morning my husband always run our car 15 minute earlier before we go to my work as he send me to work everyday.
@cpamanda (694)
• United States
26 Jan 07
30 minutes seems excessive. I would say the time to warm up depends on where you live and how cold it gets at night. I am horrible about always running late. So....to my husband's dismay ((he is a mechanic)) I usually turn it on with the defrosters running, scrape what I can from the windows and take off. It is less than 5 minutes unless we have major ice. It hardly ever snows where I live. If there is no ice accumulated and it is cold, I start and go. I sure hope he does not see this.
@TerryZ (22147)
• United States
26 Jan 07
Funny you should mentioned that. This morning I had to go somewhere and my car wouldnt start because it was so cold. It was below 0 here. So thank goodness my hubby was here he had to give a jump and it started right up. But I usually only warm up for 5-10 minutes like you said. Good enough.
@Thoroughrob (11771)
• United States
26 Jan 07
I let mine run for about 10 minutes. Usually that is long enough. If it is real cold, I let it run a little longer.
2 people like this
@sedel1027 (17870)
• United States
26 Jan 07
When I lived up north the only time I ever bothered to preheat my car was if it was snowing or the car had iced over and I needed the heat to help defrost the ice on the car. The most I did that was maybe 5 minutes, if that. I didn't think it was necessary to pre-heat your car before driving it. I can't imagine how much gasoline you waste doing that.
2 people like this
@shywolf (4529)
• United States
26 Jan 07
Wow.. 30 minutes? I don't know that I've heard of many people letting their car run that long in the cold weather before driving it, before. I think that my family usually lets the car run about the same as you do. 5-10 minutes sounds like plenty enough. Even fifteen minutes isn't too unreasonable. Just to give it some time to warm up. But by thirty minutes it just seems like all you'd be doing is wasting a lot of gasoline *laugh* And wearing the car down.
2 people like this
• United States
26 Jan 07
I think that fifteen minutes, tops, is long enough to let any car run before taking off. One of our vehicles is fuel injected so it can start and go right away, but in the winter time I give it at least ten minutes to warm up before I leave. Speaking of cars, sheesh, I watch my grandkids before and after school most weekdays. I went out to start the pickup this morning and it wouldn't start. Must be the battery, anyway since I live so far away from their school and their parents and my hubby work out of town, we have no choice but to stay home today, so it's 'party time' for the grandkids and me, eeeee hawwww, LOL.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Jan 07
Kids love a day off from school.
@Lydia1901 (16354)
• United States
3 Feb 07
I would agree that is overkill. I would let my car run for 5 minutes tops because I do not like to sit and wait in the car for very long. I like to get in and go where I need to go without a delay.
1 person likes this
• Canada
29 Jan 07
I tend to only leave mine run for a few minutes which my husband keeps saying it hard on our vechile , he will let in run for about 20 minutes , and I find it is still always very cold when we get in so to me there is not much point in wasting all the gas to warm something that isn't going to warm until we are half way to where we need to go anyway , especially with the price of gas nowadays .
1 person likes this