close up of car tire on winter snow road

Do I Need to Warm My Car Up in the Winter?

As much as we don’t want to admit it, it’s the winter season here in Wisconsin. With that, of course, means snow and sleet and sometimes subzero temperatures. Wisconsin residents, though, know how to get through a Wisconsin winter with tips and tricks, but what about warming up the car before driving it? Should drivers do that? 

[Read More: Do I Need Winter Tires in Wisconsin?] 

For decades drivers in the north have used the age-old trick of starting their car and letting it idle to warm up before actually driving it. Your parents probably did it and so did their parents before them. However, you are not driving the same car your parents used to drive. 

Nowadays, it’s actually more harmful to let your car idle in the cold winter before driving it. Generally, any car that was made since the 90s doesn’t need to idle for more than 30 seconds before driving.  

Cars back in the day relied on carburetors that needed to warm up in order to work. But it’s been a long time since cars have relied on carburetors. Idling now is mostly just a waste of fuel and produces more greenhouse gasses than necessary.  

As great as it might be to start the car and let it warm up for you before getting in, it’s better to drive it almost immediately, it’ll warm up faster that way! 

close up of orange triangle road hazard sign with car in snow in background

Does Carrying Sandbags in the Trunk Improve Traction? 

Another common trick winter drivers have used is throwing some 100-pound sandbags in their trunk to get better traction. Like the warming up the car myth, this used to be true. 

When cars were more front-heavy and were commonly rear-wheel drive, some added weight to the rear could be very helpful. However, if you have a front-wheel or all-wheel drive car, more weight in the back will only hinder your traction and cause you to lose efficiency.  

Thanks for reading! Keep up with our blog for more posts like this! Drive safe out there!