Ask the Editors: The Value of a Hot Engine

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Your motor should be like baby bear’s porridge.

Dear ATVC: It’s often said heat is the enemy of engines but my buddy was yelling at me for ripping around before my quad could hit operating temperature. Wouldn’t riding it when it was cooler be beneficial?

It is true that excessive heat can be very damaging to an engine – the smallest resulting damages coming from melted housings on up to entire heads being warped out of spec. Unfortunately, riding hard before an engine is at least partially warmed up can have similar impacts.

A lot of this depends on just how cold the engine in question is starting out. If the temps are below freezing, oil thickens and settles to the bottom of the casing. It is the heat generated by friction of the moving internals that returns it to its natural viscosity and hence ensures that it is distributed properly.

Additionally oil performs a task that is often not discussed. As moisture gathers up inside our engines, it is oil that captures and holds the water in suspension- keeping it from damaging moving parts. When the engine reaches operating temperature, it begins to boil away this suspended moisture. Frequent jaunts on an engine before it is warmed allows for this moisture to continue to build up.

So in short- just like with your car, it’s never a good idea to start a cold engine and push it hard. You don’t necessarily have to let it hit operating temperature, but giving it a minute to warm up first is a very good practice in increasing your machine’s longevity.

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