The Correct Way to Warm Up Your Car

by Lewis Barthes - February 3, 2022
woman warming hands in car in front of vents

Cold weather months often bring fun and enjoyment for many people, but it’s also a time when making sure your car is prepared for winter is important. Don’t forget that driving in slippery and snowy conditions can lead to accidents, so winter is also a great time to make sure your car insurance is up to the task.  

Cold weather is a great opportunity for families to sled and play outside. Others enjoy the peaceful quiet of a winter’s day. Cold weather is not always a positive, however. A cold car can be particularly uncomfortable when you need to drive somewhere. 

Freezing temperatures are the norm during the winter months. The average temperature during winter in the continental United States is 33 degrees. Steady freezing or near-freezing temperatures mean a frosty vehicle during your morning commute. 

There are some steps you can take to warm up your car and avoid shivering every time you get behind the wheel. Learn more from our guide about the correct way to warm up your car. 

Warming Your Engine vs. Warming Yourself 

The concept of “warming up” your car means different things to different generations. Older cars required substantial warm-up time due to their reliance on a part known as a carburetor. These parts powered the vehicle by igniting a combination of air and gasoline. 

Besides problems such as poor mileage and less power, carburetors performed poorly in cold weather. Cold air is dense, making it difficult for the carburetor to find the right mix of oxygen and gasoline. To combat these issues, drivers would allow their vehicles to idle long enough for the air to warm. 

Thanks to advancements in technology, cold weather is less of an issue when starting up modern cars. These vehicles use something known as a fuel injector to prepare the appropriate mix of air and fuel. Controlled by computers, the fuel injector can detect when the weather is cold and adjust the amount of fuel that is released. These technological advancements mean that most modern cars need less than a minute to warm up. 

Of course, there are other issues related to the cold in your vehicle. First and foremost, your comfort is an important concern. No one wants to drive a frosty vehicle, and a cold vehicle could also represent safety hazards. If your windshield is frosted over, it could be challenging to navigate safely. 

What Are The Steps to Warming Your Car? 

If you need to heat up the interior of your vehicle before it is comfortable enough to drive, these steps could prove to be invaluable. Warming up your car for the right amount of time could not only keep you warm but help to avoid wasting gas as well. To warm up your car, you should: 

  • Turn the key on without starting the ignition. This allows your electrical system to come online, which will allow the fuel pump to start working. After a few seconds, you can start your car. 
  • Avoid the urge to run your heater right away. In the beginning, the heater will only pump cold air and strain the electrical system. Once your vehicle comes online, the heater will begin working. 
  • Avoid other options like seat warmers or the radio, leaving the electrical power to your engine. 
  • Idle your vehicle for a minute or two until warm air begins to flow. 
  • Bundle up and stay warm until the heater is working properly. 
person with gloves on gripping steering wheel

What about Extreme Cold Weather? 

The tips for warming up your car are the same in all kinds of cold weather, but you might benefit from some additional steps during extremely cold days. There are areas in the United States that regularly dip below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and remain there throughout the winter. In extreme cold, there are additional steps you should take before operating your vehicle. 

Cold temperatures can make it difficult to heat up the oil in your vehicle. Regular oil tends to thicken when it is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. For cold-weather regions, synthetic oil is advisable. 

It can also help to take additional steps to keep your battery warm. When batteries are cold, they can struggle to maintain their charge. Relying on items like battery thermal wraps or heating pads could help you warm up your car faster. 

In some places, permanent heating options might be necessary for your engine block. In some cases, it might be worth installing heaters that can be recharged via electrical outlets at the end of the day. Alternatively, there are also permanent engine block heaters as well. 

Don’t Forget About Regular Maintenance 

Of course, ensuring your car is warm enough for those cold weather drives starts long before the temperature drops. To ensure your vehicle remains at a comfortable temperature when it’s winter, your car must be ready for winter

Preparing for winter involves several maintenance tasks. The most common examples include ensuring your fluids are topped off, checking your tire air pressure, and updating your wiper blades. Among the other standard maintenance checks you should make, it’s always a good idea to check your heater. 

There is little need for your vehicle’s heater in the warmer months of the year for most people. That means your heater often goes six months or longer without being in use. These long layoffs could result in issues that could prevent the heater from working properly when you need it. It is better to identify any issues with your heater before you find your vehicle covered in frost and ice. 

Bluefire Insurance Has Plenty to Offer 

If you are ready to learn about how Bluefire Insurance can save your customers money on car insurance, we are ready to help. We offer many different ways for you to connect with us and find out more about Bluefire Insurance. Don’t hesitate to call us at (866) 424-9511 or visit us online right away. 

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