While letting a vehicle run to warm up on a cold day may seem like a good idea, some local mechanics say that practice could potentially cause the vehicle to have problems.
“Sitting still, you don’t get the airflow through the radiator, and if the cooling fan doesn’t come on, it could overheat the engine,” Barry Allen of Webster Auto said. “It’s a good thing to warm them up a little bit before you just try to go, especially in severe cold, but you don’t want to leave it idle for a half an hour or something like that.”
Though some damage could be done to a vehicle, Allen warned of other dangers.
“The biggest danger they warn about anymore is it actually being stolen,” Allen said. “They look for that now unfortunately.”
One alternative to warming up a vehicle before leaving, Allen said, is leaving the vehicle parked in a garage. Allen also mentioned block heaters, which are specifically designed to help warm up engines.
“In the colder areas, a lot of vehicles come equipped with it but we don’t’ have that here,” Allen said.
Allen advised that in the winter, drivers should take extra care to monitor vehicle fluids, such as oil and antifreeze, and tires.
“When it gets colder, the tire pressure drops because of the outside temperature, and then you run your tires low on air,” Allen said. “It could damage them or shorten the life span.”
Kim Kaufman of Hillsboro Ford said running an engine repeatedly with an incomplete warm up could cause issues.
“In other words, short trips where it doesn’t warm up,” Kaufman said.
However, rather than causing a catastrophic incident, Kaufman said the effect, if any, would be subtle.
“I can’t say we see issues because of that because we’re talking about over the life of the vehicle,” Kaufman said. “If you do that, yeah, it may not last as long, but with our vehicles nowadays, it’s not as critical as it used to be.”