Did you know that letting your car idle can actually hurt your engine? Here's why and what you should do...

 

According to Popular Mechanics:

An internal combustion engine works by using pistons to compress a mixture of air and vaporized fuel within a cylinder. The compressed mixture is then ignited to create a combustion event—a little controlled explosion that powers the engine.

 

When your engine is cold, the gasoline is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and vaporized fuel for combustion. Engines with electronic fuel injection have sensors that compensate for the cold by pumping more gasoline into the mixture. The engine continues to run rich in this way until it heats up to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

The life of components like piston rings and cylinder liners can be significantly reduced by gasoline washing away the lubricating oil, not to mention the extra fuel that is used while the engine runs rich. Driving your car is the fastest way to warm the engine up to 40 degrees so it switches back to a normal fuel to air ratio. Even though warm air generated by the radiator will flow into the cabin after a few minutes, idling does surprisingly little to warm the actual engine.

 

Okay..that's a lot of words. So what are you supposed to do?

Get in your car and drive. Don't go nuts, like you're in NASCAR, but don't hang around. Just drive - it's better for warming up your car, your car and that pesky thing called the environment.

To put it another way, Business Insider says:

Unless you're rolling in a 1970s Chevelle—which we assume isn't your daily driver—bundle up, get into that cold car, and get it moving.