Oops...I Installed a remote starter...now I'm reading its bad..

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May 27, 2003
Elkridge, MD
So at the start of this past winter I went out and installed a DesignTech Autocommand remote starter. I guess the brand is of no real concern anyway. Well I was doing what every good BB member does and I was reading through past posts. I came across one with the owner of a 1997 Lumina with the same GM 3.1 engine as my Monte Carlo complaining of very high oil consumption, like 1 quart every 800 miles at only 67K or so miles. He then said that he had a remote starter and during the cold winter months was using it to start the car and let it warm up for 15 minutes. There were a bunch of replies saying that the reason for the oil consumption was beacuse letting the car idle in the cold weather prematurely wore out the piston rings. Then the member "BOBISTHEOILGUY", who I would deduce owns this board and has quite a bit of experience concerning engines and oil, said that it was not the cause of the burning oil. So heres the question...my Monte Carlo burns very little oil, about 1/2 quart or so, sometimes a little more, every 3,000 miles on Castrol GTX 5W-30. This seems to be very good for a car with 126K miles in my opinion. My oil consumption has not increased since I've used the remote starter over the past winter. What kind of damage, if any, have I done to my car by using the remote starter over the course of the past winter? I'm guessing if I were to just stop using it from now on (**** I'll pull the thing right out of the car for good) I wouldn't incur anymore damage? [crushedcar] And this brings up another question: How long is the car supposed to warm up in the cold mornings? My car (like pretty much every other 3.1L GM on the road) has a nice case of piston slap, so if driven, even lightly, before it has had a chance to warm up even a little on the cold morning, it sounds like a garbage truck and has no power. As soon as it warms up it runs fine, purrs quietly and has plenty of power. I figured it was beneficial to the car to let it warm up in the cold winter months with no load on the motor so it doesn't create additional wear for the pistons. In that other post I read some comments saying to drive away as soon as the oil pressure light goes off. Some others saying let it warm up for about a minute. I always try and let my car warm up for 45 seconds to a minute, be it summer or winter, before I drive away so it is well oiled. Sorry this post was so long. Any input you have will be greatly appreciated. I have been left very confused.
Other than wasted gas consumption I see no problem with letting a car idle for 15 minutes or less. Personally I start the car , clean off the windows , and go I also have seen no damage from that.
I agree with the above post, based on reading after the earlier Lumina post. I think old style carburated cars shot a lot more fuel which could contaminate oil than the modern fuel-injected engines do. I believe in starting the car and getting it moving slowly since it allows all parts of the car to warm up at the same time. I think Click and Clack once made an analogy that idling a modern car is really no different than driving very very slowly as far as the modern engine is concerned, so damage would probably not be to the engine but to other parts of the car that would still be cold if you got things up to speed too quickly.
you should never idle for more than a minute, others will say 30 secs, 15 secs, even no idling. Either way, don't idle for long, its wasted gas, and it will take longer for your car to actually warm up. Your car gets warm by driving it, so drive it slow for the first 10 min of your driving day until the oil reaches operating temperature, then you can drive it however you want.
The 3.1L GM is very conservative on the gas at low RPMs, it is only at the high RPMs that it drinks it like water. Over the course of the past winter, I let my car idle for 10-15 minutes per morning 5 days a week, and was getting 280 miles to a tank, opposed to the typical 300 without letting it idle. My concern is not in wasted gas, or the amount of time to warm up, but if I am causing damage to my engine, specifically my piston rings...if this is the case, then could someone explain how letting it idle would cause damage? Thanks again.
Prolonged idle causes unburned fuel to pass the piston rings and contaminate the oil--yes, modern fuel injected engines are better than older carbureted engines. More frequent oil changes are a help. Also, the engine doesn't run warm enough to burn cleanly, and that's a problem if you don't have a long enough drive to get the engine completely warmed. In frigid weather, you won't fully warm that engine in any case, even if the coolant thermometer reads in the normal range. The best way to pre-warm the engine is with an electric water jacket heater, either the soft-plug type or the tank type. If not possible, then idle as short a time as possible and begin driving easily as soon as the engine will run smoothly. If you're only going to keep the car a couple of years, who cares how you treat it?...it'll run for you. Ken
Maybe I will just pull the remote starter for now. I plan to keep this car for at least the next 4 years, and plan to do everything in my power to keep it running well up to at least 200K miles. I always drive (well there have been 2 specific occasions I can think of where I needed to give it the go without letting it warm up to avoid an accident) slow and easy until it warms up. Once warmed up I rarely take it to the redline, except occasionally for backroads passing when it is essential to make the pass as quickly as possible. I try and go easy on her as I do want the car to last a long time. So I understand that fuel gets into and contaminates the oil, but how does this cause the motor to burn oil? Does the fuel moving past the piston ring wear it down? Now that its getting warmer out I'm not so worried about it, but I don't want to do any more damage to my car next time winter comes around.
I agree with Ken2. At idle very litle heat is being generated so I think most of us will concede that a curb idle will take longer to warm up. During this time the oil is thick and the only lube on the cylinder walls is left over from the previous day. The unburnt fuel will wash off this oil residue and you will get borderline upper cylinder lubrication.Metal to metal with gas as a lubricant is not good. I used a block heater on a timer for many years and that combined with a 10 second idle before drive off worked well for me. All my vehicles still had the cross hatch visable with a bore scope at 100,000 km's. No bore or ring wear at all.
Just compromise. 15 minutes is probably too long. But a couple of minutes (maybe less than 5) is no big deal. Personally I would keep the remote starter and limit to maybe 5 minutes. It probably takes 2 minutes or so for the slap to stop. I have had a couple of the 3.1's and neither one used oil. One went about 150K and still used only about 8 oz every 4K. And yes sometimes in winter I left it idle so I could get into a warm car. I can't remember [Eek!] if it was you that I asked if your intake manifold leaked yet. Its virtually certain that it will at 100K or less. Make sure you change antifreeze (DexCool) every 25-30K or so.
Piston slap doesn't stop until the car has been running for about 10 minutes if left idling. If driven it will stop after about 3 or 4 minutes, but at any speed above idle you can never hear it anyway. It has done this since the car was new (I bought this car from my father when he decided it was finally time to buy his Jeep Grand Cherokee...so I remember him complaining about the embarrasing noise on startup) The engine makes quite a few interesting noises when cold. In the summer months when warmed up it sounds and runs like a new motor. I believe it was me that you asked in my other post, and yes I did have the gaskets replaced. They were failed when I got the car at 114K miles, and was leaking coolant. Around 120K miles coolant appeared in the oil and I promptly had them repaired. It was an unnerving and expensive experience but it is working well and has no leak now. I guess I won't worry about it for now. The car runs well so I will just drive it and be happy. I haven't been using the starter for the past month anyway.
I am the guy with the 1997 Lumina and the remote starter. The car was used for very short trips and was started every day at least once with the remote starter and idled for 15 mins. The dealer said the car failed a leak down test meaning there are compression leaks around the rings. The 3.1 does not have a history of oil consumption due to compression problems. I cannot say 100% whether the remote starter was a factor, but a lot of people including the dealer seems to feel it was. At this point, I don't know if the rings are shot, or just stuck. I have been experimenting with different oils. Right now I am trying Rotela T 5W40 (Group III synthetic). This oil has a very high amount of detergents (calcium I think). I am encouraged that I took the car on a 600 mile trip over the weekend and it only used about 1/4 of a quart. It is hard to tell for sure based on a small sample like this, but I am encouraged. As far as the remote starter, if your car is not using extra oil since you put it on, then you FOR SURE did not do any damage. As far as whether lengthy cold weather idling is bad for the car, there are different opinions... Based on this one single experience, I think it is. [ June 02, 2003, 09:12 PM: Message edited by: CJH ]
I can see some people are confused about the motivation for a long idle. The reason I did this did not have anything to do with getting a faster warm up and I am not at all concerned with the issue of using a little more gasoline. I live in an area that is very cold and snowy in the winter. We have a 2 car garage and 4 cars. By leaving the defroster turned on, I would start the car and let it thaw out the snow. After I had my breakfast, I would go out to a warm car with the windows already melted off. I don't think putting a jacket heater on the engine is going to accomplish this. The car may heat up faster if I am driving it, but that means standing in the cold, scraping off the windows and freezing my butt off until the car warms up. I now understand the reasons why this is bad for the engine, so we don't have to cover all that again!
I live in Ontario Canada, and I was trying to limit to the minimum the amount of idling to save my engine. Since 3/4 years, I dont care about the engine, I let the car idling 15 mn , I am way much more important , no more scraping, and a nice and warm cab.My car doesn't seems to suffer from this. The machine is at our service,not the opposite !!!
Wow. I'm in shock. I can't believe the number of machine heads on here that don't believe in warming an engine up prior to take off. You know, it's not just the engine you have to throw into the ring. What about the trans? It too needs time to get the fluids pumping through it on those ice cold mornings. You can't sit here and convince me that warming up an engine is not necessary and that it will not harm the engine either way. You got to give time for the thermodynamic properties to kick in. Like when a car overheats and dies, how does it die exactly? Metal expands from the heat and seizes the engine. Won't the same thing happen in reverse if it's cold???? Piston will heat up first, then the block. Well, the the block isn't heating up as fast as the pistons are, couldn't that lead to seizing as well???? I'm sorry, but I just ain't buying that there are benefits to not letting an engine warm up. [Frown] [ June 03, 2003, 01:44 PM: Message edited by: Schmoe ]
I believe my method works the best. Even on the coldest mornings, I start the engine, put on my seatbelt and then immediately put the trans in drive. I don't touch the gas, I just let the car pull itself forward, until I get to the end of my townhouse complex. Then I lightly use the gas, so that it shifts at about 1500rpm. I do this for about the first two minutes. Then I keep the rpms below 2000 for the first 3-4 minutes. Everything gets a chance to warm up gradually, but without sitting there idling. Your trans fluid won't warm up just by sitting there idling, neither will your rear end fluid.
Just let the oil pressure get to normal and go. [Big Grin] Schmoe, your car is better off at operating temps so helping it along by driving it gently beats sitting there burning gas and wearing out the oil. Bottom line though is that I doubt anyone could prove an engine failure due to not following whichever side of the argument they favor. [Wink] Cheers, 3MP
Use a block heater!!! Even at -30 deg. C my engine will immediately run at low idle and my heater will blow warm air after being plugged in for 4 hours, for about 16 cents worth of electricity. Most engines are not quite this good at holding in the heat (I have a 2.5 cast iron pushrod insulated in many years of grease and oil) but it makes a huge difference on any engine to plug in for a bit at any temp below freezing.
Patman and 3MP, I respect your opinons but I still just can't imagine me ever doing that and Patman, you live "up" there, where it is KA-OLD all the time. I mean, don't you just feel better knowing that your car is all nice and warmed up before you leave? It's like the car is saying thanks!!!! I know, it sounds stupid, but I believe everything has feelings. Like those people that dog their cars out and treat it like crap-ola, and what???? They ALWAYS have problems and then have the gall to wonder why. Cracks me up. (I'm talking general here, not implying anything to the two brethrens) Anyway, I look at it like this: I know I can't just jump out of bed and start off hitting all 12 cylinders. [freaknout] But, that's me. I learned this from Grandpa and Dad, everything has to warm up and it will last longer. So far, it has held me well. Anything from cars, lawn mowers, boats, motorcycle, etc. etc. you get the picture. [Razz] [Smile] [Smile] [ June 03, 2003, 02:46 PM: Message edited by: Schmoe ]
Nah, I see it the other way, the engine would rather be revving around 2k rpm, sitting there idling cold is just promoting cylinder wash & making it harder to keep oil pressure at a reasonable level. Back in the old days of carburetors, cold engines idled faster on purpose so hey why not put that extra effort into motion. [Smile] I don't think the engines "like" just sitting there at 800 rpm. They'd rather be moving. That's what they're for. Cheers, 3MP
I think the trend for curb idle warm up started back in the days of carbs. I saw hundreds of cars that would start fine but die the minute the transmission was put in gear. The only way to test out a auto choke/fast idle cam setting was with the car left overnight. So thousands of Americans ( europeans had manual chokes ) just let the car idle at the curb until it was warm enough not to stall on take off. The alternative was to leave the car overnight at the dealership and there was no gaurantee that it would be fixed right first time. [ June 03, 2003, 04:19 PM: Message edited by: Nosmo King ]
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