Will warming my vehicle in the winter do harm? | Car Doctor

Q: My wife showed me an old article you wrote that stated you shouldn’t warm your vehicle in the winter. Why is that the case? Will it do any harm to the car?

A: There is no need to warm up a modern car for more than a minute or so — even in very cold weather. Today, oil viscosities are lower and lubricate the engine much quicker than years ago.

Back when cars had carburetors, cold weather could cause stalling and hesitation, and that is just not the case with fuel injection.

My suggestion for almost any vehicle is when the weather is cold — once you have on your seatbelt — drive nice and easy and let the entire car warm up (not just the engine). Sure, it is great to get into a warm cabin, but excessive warm up really just wastes fuel and pollutes the planet.

Q: I own a Honda Civic. It's been almost a year since my clock, horn and driver and passenger doors' electrics stopped working. What could it be?

A: Well, you are certainly a patient person when it comes to your car. I would start with a simple check of fuses and electrical connections, starting at the battery and moving to the fuse box. This could be a case of corrosion to the electrical connection or even critters chewing through the wiring.

Q: My 2010 Jeep Wrangler has 153,000 miles on it. Since last March, the shifter cable, battery, alternator and starter have been replaced using NAPA parts.

In September, the EGR valve was replaced by a local repair shop I’ve frequented for 15 years with previous Jeeps I have owned.

The problem is intermittent: I would turn the key to start but get no response, then a delayed start — about three seconds — from turning the key. This happened randomly, maybe once a month.

Recently, the truck would not turn over and the engine light came on. It was towed to my local AAA shop, which contacted me to say the truck had turned over and started with no problem.

I researched the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) in September. I'm not sure if this could be the issue. Any thoughts?

A: Certainly, the TIPM could be the problem, but the issue could also be as simple as the replacement starter. It is possible that, even though the starter was new, it is faulty. The trip on the tow truck could have jostled the vehicle around enough to get the starter to turn.

Perhaps, the next time the Jeep doesn’t start, you could have the tow truck driver tap on the starter while you turn the key. If the engine cranks over, the starter is the issue.

Q: I have a 1996 Corvette Collector Edition with 30,000 miles. It has driver and passenger airbags. Do they need to be serviced or replaced?

A: There was a time where it was thought that airbags had about a 10-year lifespan. Over time, we have found that properly functioning airbags (no flashing airbag lights) will last the life of the vehicle.

Several years ago, a mid-'70s General Motors vehicle had a crash that resulted in the airbag deploying, and it worked as designed some 45 years later.

If your Corvette airbag warning lights are behaving normally (comes on with the key and turns off when running), the airbag system is operating as designed. It is also wise — with any vehicle — to periodically check for recalls at www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.

Q: I have a 2012 Honda CR-V with 112,000 miles. When it is damp out, the car makes a terrible grinding sound when I try to start the engine. In nice, dry, warm weather, the car starts without any grinding.

Does this sound like the starter or something else? Will my car just not start one day? I’m trying to hold off on fixing it, since I’d like to trade it in for a new car this summer if the prices aren’t as crazy as they are now.

A: The typical issue with your CR-V is a faulty starter drive. The repair is to replace the starter motor.

Yes, the starter might not engage one day, and that grinding also may be damaging the ring gear on the engine. A ring gear replacement is quite expensive.

If it were my car, I would verify that the starter is faulty and replace it now, before you get stuck. Hopefully, by summer, vehicle inventories will rise and prices will stabilize.

AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul

John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email jpaul@aaanortheast.com and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Will warming up my vehicle in the winter do harm? | Car Doctor