Is Your Commute Killing Your Car ?

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Coolant at proper operating temperature

How long does it take you to get to work?  Most of us crave a short commute….less traffic, we can leave the house a little later in the mornings, have lunch at home, and it takes longer to go through a tank of gas.  But could you be causing damage to your vehicle by short distance driving ?

Last week we had a Honda Civic customer in the shop that has noticed a dramatic drop in her MPG.  After an in-depth conversation with her about a variety of scenarios and possible causes, it came to light that she has a 3 mile commute to work each way….barely in the car long enough to get through a song on the radio.  Her vehicle’s engine does not have time to get up to full operating temperature, nor does her cooling system.  Since her vehicle is in “warm up” mode during her entire 3 mile drive to work, fluids do not have time to get warm and her engine is having to work harder (more friction), which requires a larger amount of fuel, a term known as “running rich.”  Carbon builds up, the vehicle does not drive as well and MPG is one of many areas affected.  Since engine oil does not have time to warm up properly, it is very common for water vapor/condensation to mix with the oil, which contaminates the oil and makes it less effective at lubrication.  With city/short distance driving, it is recommended to base oil change intervals on time versus mileage.

One of the best things that you can do for your car, whether it is an Audi or a Volkswagen, Honda orToyota, is get on the road and “blow it out.”  DRIVE the vehicle …. on the interstate, down country roads, run a couple of errands before work or anything that keeps the car in motion for an extended period of time.  A short commute is great but make sure that your car does not suffer as a result.