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December 11, 2018

Here's the real reason you should never warm up your car before driving in the winter

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Helpful tips from an expert in mechanical engineering and combustion engines in cold weather. 

Winter is coming... Indeed, it is already here, and with it, all the added stressors of dealing with the season's harsh driving conditions.

Worse of all are the frigid mornings when most people feel they need to "warm up" the engine before driving off, reports Business Insider. These drivers - probably most of us - have bought into a persuasive but false urban myth.

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A FALLACY THAT BECAME AN UNCHALLENGED FACT

Most drivers, faced with a frigid morning will sit in their car a few minutes with the engine idling, believing that they are warming up the engine, so it will function at its optimum.

According to former drag racer Stephen Ciatti, this "fact" is a complete fallacy which has become generalized throughout the driving world.

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Your mechanic should also check your battery, and top up the engine coolant with antifreeze

COMBUSTION ENGINE EXPERT REFUTES "IDLING"

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Ciatti, who has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained that idling a car in the cold wastes fuel. It can also harm the engine by stripping oil from the cylinders and pistons that drive the internal combustion engine:

"That's a problem because you're actually putting extra fuel into the combustion chamber to make it burn and some of it can get onto the cylinder walls. Gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash oil off the walls if you run it in those cold idle conditions for an extended period of time."

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WARM UP BY DRIVING

Ciatti revealed that the fastest way to warm the engine up is to drive,  He advises driving the car reasonably quickly from 30 seconds to a minute, which will warm the power-steering fluid faster.

"Yes, you're going to be cold during the first few minutes it takes your radiator to warm up and start blowing air that feels comfortable. But you'll be saving yourself fuel as well as a lot of time and money."

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TIPS FOR SAFE WINTER DRIVING

For those who are not mechanically minded, there are a few tips that will help make sure winter driving is safer.

You should start by having your car serviced in the Fall, including getting your oil and filters changed. Your mechanic should also check your battery, and top up the engine coolant with antifreeze, and do a brake fluid check and top up

One of the most important things for driving in winter conditions is the tires, and checking your wheel alignment.

Make sure you carry a winter car breakdown kit, which should include a shovel, torch, blanket, hi-visibility vest, screenwash, food and drink supplies, scraper and de-icer, and snow grips for your shoes in case you need to walk to safety.

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Keep warm, and drive safe.

In a related story, a San Diego man suffered a bizarre accident while leaving a car wash. 

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