Do car engines suffer from wind chill?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I live in northeastern Iowa where the temperature can get to -30 and even colder with the wind chill. In the parking lot at work, most of my colleagues will back into the parking spaces on very cold days so that their car engines are pointed away from the wind. I believe wind only affects exposed skin, not metal. Can pointing your car away from the wind on a very cold day help ensure that it will start when you come out at the end of the day?

TOM: No, but it'll sure help that driver's door swing open once you get it ajar!

RAY: The wind will make the engine cool off faster. But once it cools off (and reaches equilibrium with the outside temperature) the wind has no effect.

TOM: Let's say you get to work at 9 AM and it's 20 degrees out. You park your car facing the wind, and your colleague Wanda parks her car facing away from the wind. By 11 AM, your engine is 20 degrees. By 11:30, Wanda's engine is 20 degrees. So by 5 PM when you both come out to start your cars, it makes no difference.

RAY: Now, if you were my brother, and you got to work at 11:30, and left at 2, you'd be well advised to park with the engine away from the wind. In fact, after reading your letter, my brother's been doing that for the last few days, and it's working well for him. Unfortunately, by the time he calculates the wind direction, calibrates his compass, and finds a directionally-correct parking space, it's already 1:30!

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