Mrunal Manmay Dash

Winter is here and that means drivers are preparing their vehicles for colder weather. In Indian conditions where weather plays a major part in day today activities, it is a preconception that vehicles should idle for some time for warm up before heading out in the winter.

It is an age-old practice and it traces its origin from the old carbureted engines in the 70s and 80s when they needed even heaters to crank up the motors in winter.

There have been instances when people used even halogen lights above the bonnet of old Mahindra jeeps all night only to make them start easily in the morning.

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Like many misconceptions, the idea behind winter car idling begins with a kernel of truth. Cars do get worse fuel economy when it's really cold out -- they are at least 12 percent less fuel efficient, according to an US agency, Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department. And it does take longer for the engine to warm up and reach an optimal driving temperature in cold weather.

Another fact is when your car sits for an extended period of time, the oil drains down to the bottom of the oil pan. Once you start the engine, the oil pump quickly circulates the oil throughout the motor, lubricating all the necessary moving engine components.

While old engines needed some serious heating up before hitting the road, modern engines with fuel injectors seldom need warming up, unless you stay in the North Pole, where people have to spend a lot of time and energy to defrost their windows and windshields.

Advancements in engine technology are reducing the need to idle, even in colder temperatures. In fact, many auto experts say that preheating your vehicle before driving is unnecessary and a waste of energy and gas.

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Modern cars have improved on technology to the point that your engine is fully lubricated within 20 to 30 seconds. By the time you get in, start the car, put on your seatbelt, and get situated, the engine might not be fully warm, but it’s completely lubricated and you’re okay to drive at this point.

However, if you’re still worried about protecting your car this winter, instead of idling, you’ll be better off taking time to winterize your vehicle.

Check out these pointers to get your car winter-ready:

Check your battery

Cold weather can reduce battery power by 50 percent. Batteries in use for three years should be tested. Make sure posts and connections are free of corrosion.

Consider an oil change

A full synthetic or synthetic-blend engine oil, flow better at lower temperatures for easier cold startups and better wear protection.

Inspect wipers and fluid levels

Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition and your windshield washer fluid reservoir is filled with no-freeze washer fluid.

Top up your antifreeze

Make sure your radiator contains the proper 50/50 mix of coolant and water.

Check your tyre pressure

Properly inflated tires maximize traction on wet or icy roads and help protect against wheel damage from potholes.