Modern cars have gotten very good at enduring harsh conditions of all kinds.
So far as we know, there are five senses that humans possess (six if you’re into that sort of thing). Using these, we’ve come pretty far on this Earth, building skyscrapers, laying down the foundations for modern society, and even sending some members of our species to the moon. However, despite our level of technological prowess, it's fun to see things from another perspective. You may have learned this by watching a disc brake blow up through the eyes of a thermal camera, but this is just as cool.
During this episode of Engineering Explained, Jason Fenske points the lens of a thermal camera at his Subaru Crosstrek while the engine is frozen. By that, we mean it’s been sitting for about 24 hours at 22 degrees Fahrenheit, a bit below the freezing point of water. Fenske then starts his car to show us just what happens.
The most noticeable difference we see at first is the fact that the engine decides to rev no lower than 1,700 rpm. This is a trick the engine control unit pulls off to heat up the engine more quickly and once things are nice and toasty under the hood, the ECU relaxes and allows the engine to idle at a more normal speed. The message that rings through most loud and clear is that driving in cold weather requires more preparation, meaning the right kind of oil for the region's temperature must be used. Additionally, while it's unnecessary to start the car and warm the engine, it's important to drive slow (even when the engine is at operating temp) to allow the rest of the components to warm up.