There's no point turning the heat on if your engine isn't hot. The blower draws heat from the engine coolant - if the coolant is still cold, you won't get any heat.
When I park at home, I use a block heater for about 2 hours before I start my car if it's summer, 3 hours in winter. The coolant temperature will be about 135 degrees F, which is high enough that the engine goes immediately to hot idle of 800 RPM (or whatever). Coolant temperature when hot is 195F.
When I park at work, I have no electric outlet, so I have to let the engine warm itself up. On a 50-degree day, it takes about 4 minutes for the coolant to reach that same 135F point, at which point the idle finally gets down to under 1000, and I start driving.
I see no reason why it would be bad for your engine to let everything warm up before you beat the shit out of it.
In theory (and reality) modern engines couldn't care less whether the car is warmed up or not. The trannys may fidget a little with the manuals grinding and the autos with their cold shift delays; Just never beat on the car when its cold. Even so, I let my car warm up to at least the first main click on the temp. guage. You don't really need to but it gives you an extra sense of security.
If engines didn't care whether or not they were warmed up, then we'd be running 20-degree thermostats.
But we don't - we run 170-degree thermostats.
One of the reasons we do so is that all your engine tolerances are gauged for hot operation (in our case, 195 degrees). Metal expands when hot, contracts when cold (that's why your exhaust pipes make that pining sound when you switch off). When the engine is stone cold, parts don't quite fit other parts as perfectly as they do when the engine is hot, and revving the snot out of a cold engine is going to cause premature wear.
If you know anybody with solid lifters, listen to his engine when it's cold, listen when it's hot, and then ask yourself if you really want to be beating the hell out of your valves just yet.
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