Thermal Camera Shows How Subaru Engine Heats Up

The debate about heating up your engine before you get going or not has convinced popular YouTuber Engineering Explained to do some science. Using a thermal camera, he filmed what happens as the engine of his 2016 Subaru Crosstrek heats up over time.
Thermal Camera Shows How Subaru Engine Heats Up 3 photos
Photo: YouTube screenshot
Thermal Camera Shows How Subaru Engine Heats UpThermal Camera Shows How Subaru Engine Heats Up
It's about -6 degrees Celsius outside, and the car hasn't been started for a day. He also goes a step further by adding engine’s rpm, throttle position, coolant temperature, and intake air temperature.

From a mechanical perspective, there are two things that matter: oil temperature and how well combustion happens. Obviously, the car won't be efficient until its optimal working temp' is reached. However, we should be more concerned with lubrication at startup, something the thermal camera cannot show.

Society of Automotive Engineers recommends using 0W oil at -40 degrees Celsius. If you use 30W, anything below -10 is problematic.

Can an engine stop working when it's extremely cold? Yes. If you watch Ice Road Truckers, you'll have noticed that they say engines do freeze up if they're stopped for too long. Likewise, Russians are known to start a fire under their vehicles when the conditions are extreme.

But you don't have to shove a grille under the car. In Canada, many folks have engine block heaters, which constitute a small heating element inserted into the engine block and surrounded by coolant. Even at -40C, the engine will still turn over slowly. However, the battery usually doesn't work when it's that cold and needs a boost.

For the most part, you don't need to let the car idle longer than a minute, right? Well, according to this video, the Subaru 2.0-liter boxer only reached 11 degrees by that time. About seven minutes after that, the coolant is at 58 Celsius. So yeah, you really should be careful with the throttle on a cold day. Or you could just redline it and live life like a boss!

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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