When do you consider an engine 'warmed up'?


Veteran Member
Apr 3, 2010
Other than other considerations, "warmed up enough" might be as soon as the fast idle kicks off, on a non-computer-controlled engine. The way I like to set the automatic choke is that it is on hot base idle after a few blocks of driving in our N TX climate, cold or otherwise. In cold weather, heater temp can be another indicator. A hot interior is better than a cold one. But I also normally don't "wail on it" just to be doing it . . . other than for diagnostics and such.



Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Jul 31, 2001
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Till I get it out of the garage.... idle in the driveway for a couple minutes ....drive it out of the neighborhood....then I always spin the tires loudly onto the main street, from a little bit of a rolling start. Like just as my foot has fully released the clutch.


Veteran Member
Aug 22, 2015
st.george utah
It seems people who are sympathetic of the rotating assembly of their engine, tend to have the most break downs and repairs. The guys who don't give a crap, seem to do better and spend less on repairs.


Veteran Member
Apr 22, 2015
I'm with you on your thinking Lowend, I also fully agree with camaro71/holland as well.

Depends what you mean by "wail on" it, if "wail on it" means absolute full power power pulls/runs to max rpm or qualifying laps, then yes, it's critical. Piston material comes into play as well, such as 2618 or to a lesser extent, 4032, you need heat in them there chambers so the pistons "come around"......

Revving in a few low gears at partial throttle whiffing to 6,000 rpm in your street car going to get coffee or a case beer, as long as it's good and warmed up. I find that most old school V* engines oil temps follows the water temps by about 10* or so.

When I was drag racing in my teens/20's, I like to run it with hot oil and cool water temps in the <120* at the line. When I'm on the road course I do a few laps to get things up to temp, I like the water at 170-180* and the oil at 190* to start my session, most times the oil get's to 260-270* or so.

Look at CUP before qualifying, ice water circulating in the heads at the same time oil going through a boiler heating the oil to 300+*, just before you are called to the line for your 2 lap qualifier, the quick disconnects are pulled and they are gone....

I was on the dyno all day yesterday and today....the oil temps we aim for before a full pull is around 175-180*, it's amazing how much power one can "lose" with cold/thick oil and increased psi....I hate high oil pressure...but many like it as it gives them the "warm and fuzzies",....it gives me the gd "heebie-jeebies".

GM was smart with the C5 with engineering the target oil temps at 200-220, those C5's are considered "old" now, but they still kick newer "sports cars" ass that are 10-15 years newer on the track....
Don't some drag racers make runs on a cold engine? I could have sworn I have heard of that theory somewhere in my past. Since you are a dyno guy, can a cold engine make more power? even with thin 0w-30 oil?


Dec 16, 2018
I always drive mine about 15 minutes in average air temperatures before I get on it. If you really watch an oil temperature gauge, it takes quite a while to get up to, say 180゚. Especially if it's cool or cold outside.


Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
May 16, 2007
( . Y . )Delco
Im not a scientist,but I watch that enginemasters show with brule.
He operates the dyno all day long and I think I caught him say he waits until its 130*.
Dont know if that was water or oil temp,he didnt specify.

muscl car

Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Jul 8, 2001
Gallatin Tennessee
Many years ago when I was drag racing I wanted to see 140° water temp by the time my lane was called into the staging lanes . Then once my lane was called to get ready to race . I wanted the water temp to be somewhere between 160-170 as I pulled into the water box ready to make my pass down the track


Veteran Member
Oct 1, 2016
Waupaca WI
I normally idle the engine on my car till the radiator fluid hits 140ish. Oil temp may not be up there but i do notice more power with the cooler oil. Must be the resistance = more pressure.


Veteran Member
Lifetime Gold Member
Sep 15, 1999
The Moon
Worst thing you can do is hammer it with a cold engine, and no, you don’t get more HP with a cold engine. Why? BC of oil viscosity drag on the bearings when the oil is cold.