Asked by Jan 13, 2014 at 09:56 AM about the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

Question type: General

My wife insists that during extremely cold weather (below zero temps) that the engine of her 1994 Cutlass Supreme Convertible run for 10 to 15 minutes so as not to crack the engine block. The car has approximately 68000 original miles and has always been kept in a garage albeit an unheated one. I can understand a minute or two but to me 15 miutes is really just wasting gas. Your thoughts please?

5 Answers


Go to the auto store and buy a cheap antifreeze tester and test your fluid. It will tell you what temp your fluid is rated for. If your ambiant temps are lower drain some fluid out and add straight antifreeze to lowerr your fluids temp rating. Ensure you run the motor to mix the fluid. Once it's rated for the temp it doesn't have to run at all. Your wifes method is flawed. In very cold weather even if your running your motor for 15 minutes it could cool and freeze in less than an hour (-30 or less). We dip to -40(s) and can spike to -50C I run 60/40 on the vehicles I let sit and 70/30 (anitfreeze to water) on the ones that I drive. (60/40 wont crack the blocks but it gells at low temps making the water pump work harder untill it is warm.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Sounds like she just likes to get into a warm car. That I understand, but she is doing the car no favors by running it. Modern cars, and yes a 1994 is a modern car, are designed to work effectively in nearly all weather conditions with no special treatments. With the proper oil and coolant in place you should simply start it and go. Drive it gently for the first 5 minutes or so. It can warm up while you're moving and you won't be wasting fuel.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Thanks to you both for your replies. I kind of figured these would be the responses I'd get. I'm hoping I get more of the same to prove my point. I'll bet that when she sees your responses she'll say you're both wrong. You know, she also believes that driving over rough RR crossings could damage the transmission. So you can see what I'm up against. Thanks again.


1994 Which motor does it have the 3100 or the 3.4. If its the 3100 it will have the 4t60 tranny, you can neglect that combo and it will take awhile to fail. Why does she want it started??? The 3.4 and 4t60 is another story. The LQ1 (3.4) is a nightmare if you ignore it and it's high power band eats the 4t60. Keep the maintanence up (Oil every 2000 miles on a older LQ1)


I agree with your wife somewhat and i'll tell you why: I appreciate the suggestion to drive slowly for the first five minutes especially, as that is key to my thought. The engine fire in the cylinders heats up that part of the motor at a different rate than the head or other components that might experience a thermal shock at the gasket interface. I once found it so cold to wait for my VW beetle to heat up I drove it stone cold and fast to a friend's house a mile away and thermal shocked the rear main seal, got oil all over the clutch and had an expensive repair on my hands. The head gasket might similarly experience a shock and fail if the motor was driven hard before adequate warm up. And of course engine oil that is molasses thick in the cold pan won't circulate well in a stone cold car. It can be driven safely under 50 MPH and at low RPM's while it warms up, but high RPM cold driving is a no no. High RPM activates and causes failure of Turbochargers when cold too (you didn't mention if the motor is turbo). People buy remotes to start and warm up their cars so they will be comfortably warm to get into. And having spent an emergency night in a car with the motor running to keep me warm, I noticed that Idling motors barely use any fuel. I'd not pester her about it if I were you. PS: Riding hard and fast over railroad tracks is hard on everything from old motor and transmission mounts to wheel bearings. Your wife sounds like a sharp lady.

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