How Long Should a Vehicle Warm up at Standstill?
This infamous question is debated by many as we approach the North Dakota winter season. The VCSU Environmental Task Force offers the following tips for you.
Light-Duty Gasoline or Diesel:
In all but extreme cold, 0 to 30 seconds usually suffices (check your owner's manual for any specific recommendations).
· Above freezing temperatures: typically no need to warm-up at standstill; the best way to warm up is to drive the vehicle at a moderate pace.
· Below freezing but above 0 degrees Fahrenheit: up to 30 seconds to allow for complete circulation of engine oil. Warm-up time is also determined by the effectiveness of defrosting. Again, driving the car (slowly to moderately) is the best way to warm up in this range. Note that wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires also need warming up. The only way to do that is to drive the vehicle.
· Below 0 degrees: in this range, idling the engine for a period of 1 to 3 minutes becomes important, allowing thickened engine oil to adequately circulate throughout the engine, and for the likely increased time needed for defrosting/deicing.
The EPA and several diesel engine manufacturers recommend no more than 3 to 5 minutes. But there are idling reduction alternatives to consider.
· Use electric engine heaters (such as block heaters) to minimize idling time during warm-up, especially in cold weather.
· Install a small generator or auxiliary power unit specifically designed for a truck that provides heat, air conditioning, and/or electrical power while the vehicle is not in motion. These devices are a better, more efficient alternative to idling as they use substantially less fuel and emit less pollution. Depending on the amount of time spent idling each year, the payback on these devices can be one to two years.
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