Very short cold runs - Bernard Davies
I read the other week that a reader started an Escort from cold for a very short time to move its position. Next time he needed the car it would not start.

I had the same problem with my wife's 199 Mondeo auto. Had to move it out of the way, then did not use it for 2 days. Then it struggled to start.

The dealer has not heard of this phenomenan, but offered to check it over.

Shouldn't there be a warning in the car? What is the minimum running time to avoid the problem?
Re: Very short cold runs - Brian
Change your dealer. If he hasn't heard of potential problems by short running, it makes you wonder what else he doesn't know.

The experts on here will give you a definitive answer on mininum running times, but as a rough guide I would guess at long enough to get the temperature needle on its way up the scale and fast enough to blow condensation out of the exhaust.
Re: Very short cold runs - Jonathan

500 seconds is usually about the time it takes for an engine to warm up. This is approx nine minutes.

You will probably get told this, but if you need to move a car a short distance, its better to push it, if it is possible, this stops unburned fuel from knackering your CAT, which the ECU will try and protect, hence the reluctance to start.

Re: Very short cold runs - Stuart B
Must admit I support Brian here with the what else doesn't the dealer know view.

I have heard a figure of 9 minutes quoted a few times as being the time to get the engine through the the start up cycle. However 9/10 minutes of typical driving warms an engine up much more than the same time ticking over in the drive, not that the latter is recommended anyway.

I consider that just as diesels get a glow plug light to advise when to operate the starter on a cold morning a similar shut down light might be appropriate considering that the risk of poisoning the cat is high with expensive consequences.

But then how many cars would be taken back to the dealer because such a light was on and driver had failed to RTFM!
Re: Very short cold runs - Andy
HJ recommends that a car needs to be driven a minimum of six miles for all of the constituent parts to warm up.

It really annoys me that there is so much ignorance regarding this problem, as I hate to see good machinery require "unnecessary" repair and, on average, HJ answers this in his newspaper column once every two to three weeks.

My neighbour starts two of his vehicles just to manoever them on the drive and his wife also drives a BMW 520i to go the half mile to town. I have warned him of the potential hazards but also accept that it each to his own.

Re: Very short cold runs - Colin Standing
What is going on in the motor industry. Lots of post on this, and in the Telegraph almost weekly.
There are dozens of useless gizmos on my (3 year old, bog standard) vehicle which are too boring to list,

If manufacturers don't know this, or if they do and can't fix it, they should go back to making bicycles.

Wow - how peevish this sounds. But seriously, do I have to keep a bonfire burning all day under each car, risk them all falling apart, park them in your way on the road, or employ six blokes to shove them up and down a (one in six) slope.

Colin S
Re: Very short cold runs - Andrew Smith
The first car I had to drive (belonging to my parents) was a Fiat Uno 903. This warmed up to full temp in the time it took me to drive to the end of the road so no problems with small journeys there then.
Problem was that as soon as the car was stopped the temp would start to rise only stopping when the fan cut in. The penalty for a car that warms up quickly would appear to be a car that has an inadequate cooling system. I'd rather have a car that takes a little longer to warm up.
Re: Very short cold runs - Brian
Don't blame the manufacturers. All they are doing is making the vehicles that are demanded by politicians.
Politicians went for the option of demanding filters were fitted to engines as a permanent measure, hence the catalyst clog-up and ECU cop-out syndromes, instead of allowing engine development such as lean burn to provide the answer.
Makes it look as if our masters grasp of engineering extends no further than the filter tip on the end of their fag!
Re: Very short cold runs - THe Growler
What's the point of a vehicle you can't drive any time you want, any way you want for any length of time you want? I decide when my vehicle is going to commence working for me and when it will stop, not it. We'd all be better off with Ford Prefects. If this really is the result of allowing the breast beating tree huggers to rule your lives, it's time someone hung this automotive Taliban out to dry.

Meanwhile I'm going out to top up my 5.4 liter V-8 with leaded gas, crank it up, turn on the aircon full blast, head out to the mall (about 6 mins drive), leave it running with the a/c on and the doors locked for an hour or two while I do my shopping, then go back home, get a few stubbies and some DVD's, back to the truck, and watch my in-car entertainment in air-conditioned comfort.
Re: Very short cold runs - Honest John
One of my readers has written to Charles Moore, editor of The Daily Telegraph, trying to get me fired for the advice I gave about this. But there are a couple of ways to get a flooded catalysed car started. One is to take out all the plugs and let the neat petrol in the combustion chambers evaporate away. The other is to isolate the cold start instructions from the ECU to the engine (equivalent flooring the accelerator pedal to give a flooded non-cat car maximum air to sort the mixture out by ). However, this last method could damage the cat.

Re: Very short cold runs - Cockle
Perhaps this is why theres so much congestion on the roads, everyone who only has a 2 or 3 mile journey is driving around to get the extra miles on the clock and their cats warmed up :-)
Re: Very short cold runs -- and congestion - Roger Jones
Much of the congestion is caused by people using cars for journeys short enough to walk. I had an e-mail broadcast on Radio 4 not long ago when I jumped in quick and suggested Shanks's pony to an interviewee who had protested that he had no option but to take his kids to school in a car because the school was -- wait for it -- a whole mile away -- 20 minutes' easy walk. My next-door neighbour used to drive 600 yards each way every morning to take her daughters to the High Street, where they caught a bus to school -- ludicrous.
Re: Very short cold runs -- and congestion - Ian (cape town)
And we wonder why Britain isn't producing any more Sebastian Coes, Steve Ovetts and Steve Crams...
Kenlowe Hot-Start - rogerb
BTW mine seems to have conked-out, for the 4th time, I think! But you might be luckier than I !!
Re: Kenlowe Hot-Start - rogerb
Sorry, posted in the wrong place on the thread ! See my post further down...
Re: Very short cold runs - Andrew Hamilton
Solution. Drive a diesel. Ideal for stop/start motoring. Cat not compulsory!
Re: Very short cold runs - Andrew Tarr
It is not too difficult, by keeping an occasional eye on the temp.gauge (if you have one) to tell when the thermostat opens - the needle rises steadily for the first few miles, drops back when it opens, and finally settles at the normal running temp. In my experience this takes about 3 miles for a petrol engine and 5 for a diesel.
Re: Very short cold runs -- RTFM - Roger Jones
As another poster has suggested, it's RTFM time. The manuals for both my cars (VW and MB) strongly recommend that you drive off immediately after starting and advise sternly against cold idling. Would that some of my neighbours had read their manuals -- noise, stink, engine damage, pollution . . .

Before I bathed in the wisdom of HJ's advice, I had persistent cool-running problems with my Audi 100, which on reflection were clearly attributable to too many short trips. The problems were cured by a change of driving habit and the application of VAG's own fuel additive. The main dealers didn't have a clue, nor the gumption to suggest using their own additive. I now ensure that no trip is less than five miles and I extend those that are unavoidably shorter so that the car warms up properly.
Re: Very short cold runs -- RTFM - Bernard Davies
I cannot resist coming in again on this one - the sentence "VAG dealers hadn't a clue" rings so true. I had a Passat estate between 1991 and 1995, the worst car I ever had, and what made things worse was the complete incompetence of all the VAG dealers I dealt with. Always pleasant, always polite, and willing to loan you a new Polo with no brakes and three inches slack in the steering, but....completely incompetent.
Re: Very short cold runs -- RTFM - rogerb
This is the sort of situation where a pre-heater such as the Kenlowe Hot-Start is of real benefit.
I can recommend it, (with reservations previously stated, in other threads - search for Kenlowe, or Hot-Start).
Re: Very short cold runs - T.r.y mybest
you dont say what year the cars are but early zetec engines suffered from sticky valves this is cured by removing the cyl. head and fitting modified valve colletts and oilpressure valve in the head.My93 1800 escort zetec suffers the same problem.

Value my car