Idleing in cold weather

wantoretire_didNovember 27, 2005

We have a 1999 Ford Windstar minivan. DH insists on running it while we snow-blow the driveway, maybe 20 minutes or more "to get it warmed up", not to go anywhere. I've read that it is not good for the catalytic converter to idle the engine for more the 10 minutes or so. I want to scream. Am I over-reacting?

Carol

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earthworm

I would not let it idle in the cold at all.
Jump in, warm her up for 20 seconds and drive off. ...slowly..
Within 5 minutes she should be warm...
See what the owner's manual says about this..

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 10:36PM
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cowboyind

With fuel injection, idling is not going to hurt the car. In extreme cold weather, a short idling warmup time (5 minutes or so) is sometimes not a bad idea because your breath can fog up the inside of the windshield if there is no heat at all coming from the defroster.

However, 20 minutes of idling is just a waste of fuel and is far longer than necessary. Maybe you could compromise with your husband: Have him start the car when he's about halfway done snow blowing the driveway.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 11:02PM
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bill_h

my cars idle for 20 mins or more in cold weather, somtimes in hot weather also, never had any problems with them from idleing. just uses some gas, if you dont mind paying for the gas, well idle on.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2005 at 11:20PM
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steve_o

So you have a nice warm engine and heat in the cabin and everything else is ice-cold. Much better to drive gently and warm up everything at once.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 1:36PM
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johndeere

No need to warm it up for 20 minutes but 5 to 10 is just right when its really cold out.Still drive gently for 5 minuteS or so however.

Its not good to just start and go.You have to let the oil start flowing.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 11:20PM
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bill_h

those remote starts are nice, you can start it up let it run for 5 or 10 mins then shut it off. or do like i do start it remotely then forget you started it, then it idles for 25 mins b-4 it shuts off.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 1:04AM
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cowboyind

Sure, you can idle your car for an hour if you want (assuming you do not have remote start to shut it off); it won't hurt it. But why just waste fuel for no reason?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 8:03AM
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earthworm

Watch the oil pressure gage, JohnDeere; note that the oil flows immediately, unless a man is using a 50 weight tar...lol.... ..lol

But, of course, what you say is correct.

With my new for 2007 Diesel, I'll use a 5-40 oil and plug her in overnight.
The "warm-up" idling time will then be about 2 to 3 seconds...

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:11AM
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steve_o

Watch the oil pressure gage, JohnDeere

There aren't too many cars out there with oil-pressure gauges anymore. There are plenty with idiot lights, but those will go on and off even when oil pressure is too low for driving without damaging the engine.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:22AM
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earthworm

The idiots lights are of limited use.
As I remember, the oil pressure gauge on the Mercedes Diesel took a second or two to hit full pressure..
One sweet automobile, too much rust..

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 7:17PM
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johndeere

The oil pressure gauges are gone now.Except on my Work car a 94 Regal.I also have a add on remote car starter on that Regal.That is one nice thing to have im finding out.I thought they shut the car off after so long?Something like 10 or 15 minutes?I never waited that long to see if it will shut the car down.I like that so much I was considering having it put on my two other cars.Until I seen all the wiring that is involved and decided to pass.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 9:53PM
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cowboyind

On every car I've had that does have an oil pressure gauge, the pressure is very high right after starting the engine in the cold, but that is only telling you the pressure at the point where the sending unit is. Getting the oil to all the surfaces in the engine may take a little longer, so I think there's some value to a short warmup in very cold weather. But not 20 minutes.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 10:43PM
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jemdandy

I hate to rain on someone's parade (or income for that matter), but I am of the anti-remote starter opinion. here's an example of why. One very cold winter day, my boss's son ran out of the house, started a car sitting in the driveway, and returned to the house. About 15 to 20 minutues later, a fire truck pulled in front of the house to douse the flaming car. Saved the garage and house too, but a sizeable hole was burned in the asphalt driveway. The fire department had been called by a neighbor.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 1:53AM
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timbulb

That could have happened with-out a starter thoguh.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 4:39AM
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earthworm

A good argument is presented in favor of allowing a longer "warm-up" time..
The Saab manual states 10 seconds and driving slowly up to 3 minutes...Others are similar, I am sure..

The remote starter/lock/alarm controls are just one more thing to go wrong and give grief,IMO....But I love the engine block heater, this does pay off in greater economy , durability and comfort..

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 8:56AM
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cowboyind

The biggest risk of warming up the engine is having the car stolen during the warmup, because few people lock the car back up while they're idling it. This is a lot more common than many realize. The remote starter solves that problem by keeping the vehicle locked and preventing it from being driven until the key is inserted. So if a person is going to let the vehicle sit and idle to warm up every morning, it would seem to me that the remote starter is not only the most convenient way to do it but also the safest.

But I also think the feature has a negative side because it encourages people to let the vehicle sit and idle to warm it up. I've seen people use this feature when temperatures are in the 30s and 40s. At those temperatures the car would be producing heat within about a minute if they had just started it up and driven it.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 10:47AM
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paparoseman

Do a test, try sitting in the car while it is warming up and see how long it takes to warm up while sitting in the driveway. Then the next time start the car and drive away slowly after a minute or so. You will find that with a load on the engine it warms much faster and you are actually getting somewhere. Here in Tacoma Washington it is againest the law to leave the car running while not in it. A thief just needs to see your car there running and off they go, since it is already running they just need to break the lock unless the keys are inside.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 10:53PM
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reekola

Arvada, CO also has a law against leaving car running without being in it (but I do it anyway, since no cops ever go down my street!). I warm it for about 5 minutes when cold so I can turn the heat on when I get in. Also as Cowboy sez, sometimes get fog on windshield from breath under certain conditions when air not warmed up yet.

I was considering getting a starter at Target ($50). It comes with video on installation, but was wondering if it was something I could do myself, with my limited knowlege of cars.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 2:29PM
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