A cold start is basically starting a car’s engine when it’s not at its optimal operating temperature, which is a cold start. Cold starts takes place when a car is switched off and parked for a longer period than 2 hours and when the climate you live in is typically cold.
Cold starts are more difficult to start an engine, more effort is needed to turn over a cold engine for multiple reasons:
The engine compression is higher as the lack of heat makes ignition more difficult
Low temperatures cause engine oil to become more viscous, making it more difficult to circulate.
Air becomes denser the cooler it is. This affects the air-fuel ratio, which in turn affects the flammability of the mixture.
In turn cold starts aren’t particularly good for the environment, when a car reaches its optimal operating temperature, the catalytic converter can reduce emissions by 99 percent. The quickest way to have your car reach its optimal temperature is to immediately drive the car, 75% of combined pollutants and emissions are emitted from a car during the first 3 minutes of a cold start and idle time. In other words, get in and go; it’s best for your vehicle and the air.
Solutions to Cold Starting
The problem of cold starting has been greatly reduced since the introduction of engine starters, which are now commonplace on all modern vehicles. The higher revs that can be achieved using electric starter motors improves the chance of successful ignition.
Diesel engines make use of glow plugs to heat the combustion chamber prior to ignition, improving the conditions inside the engine, while certain manufacturers (such as Mazda with the RX-7 model) have incorporated a block heater, which heats the engine block prior to ignition to reduce the problem of cold starting.
Some preventative measures you can take on to help reduce the risk of cold starts and help your engine actually stay warmer:
Parking your car in an enclosed garage, this helps keep the engine much warmer than parking it outside.
If it is parked outside try and park it under a carport and near a building if possible, this has to do with the physics of heat which basically states that warmth between two objects when close to each other will even out and remain a set temperature.
Engine oil is actually one of the biggest things people don’t take into account for their engine actually being cold, the “W” in 10W40 means winter and the lower the number before it the better, being 10 in this case. Engine oil helps retain heat within the engine. Always check with car specifications to find out what oil to use.
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