Record low temperatures were set over the Christmas break in Wyoming. Let’s face it, nobody really loves getting in a vehicle that’s frozen over, unless you’re maybe a snow queen. Reader Juliet, from central Wyoming, asked us, “how do I get my car to heat up faster”. A valid question that can have controversial answers. Juliet drives a 2010 GMC Acadia which has remote start.
Getting hot air faster
Driving with frozen feet is probably not recommended so how do we get heat faster?
If you have an auto setting in your climate control, set your temperature to the hottest and your good to go. Otherwise, the quickest way to get hot air from your vents is;
TURN THE TEMPERATURE TO COLD AND TURN OFF THE FAN
Yes, that may seem backward but that’s how a cars heating/cooling system works. Then, after driving for a bit, turn it to hot and turn on the fan. It’ll get hotter faster this way, than if you were to get in and turn it to hot with fans on full. For more info on how the system check out this link.
Remote start such as on the vehicles key fob or through a smartphone app will let you start your vehicle from inside. The vehicle will run for around 10 minutes before automatically shutting off (unless you get in the vehicle before that). The time it runs for may vary depending on the manufacturer or remote start system that is fitted to your vehicle. Some vehicle remote start systems (such as in RAM trucks) even automatically turn on the drivers heated seat and heated steering wheel if the temperature is below 40°F.
If your vehicle is parked in a garage, don’t forget to open the garage door before remote starting to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
Whilst remote start will help a little,
Driving your car will actually make it warm up faster
With advances in technology and synthetic oil, modern vehicles usually only need about 30 seconds to warm up (without damaging the engine). Modern diesel vehicles will give a signal when the glow plug light on the dash goes out it’s good to start. Some push button diesel vehicles will display a message telling you that pre-heating is in progress. It will then start automatically when ready or via remote start.
Use a block heater
Don’t have a block heater fitter? These can be purchased aftermarket or from your local dealer. They range in price from about $45 to a few hundred. There are block heaters that warm the engine oil and block heaters that warm the coolant. So you can plug your vehicle in overnight or have it set on a timer. This means you can start warming up the engine a few hours before you plan to leave. There are even thermal heat blankets available for engine bays too!
Thaw your windshield faster
Thawing your windshield faster by parking facing east. You could also use an external windshield cover that makes it easy to remove snow. This means you can be on your way sooner. Driving your car will heat it up faster than idling will.
Did you know Rawlins, Wyoming has a law against Idling?
According to to the EPA, Rawlins Municipal Code, Section 10.03.070:
“The person owning or in charge of a vehicle shall have five minutes from the time of the police arrival to shut off or move the vehicle. A misdemeanor citation may be issued after that. No vehicle, even attended, shall remain idling while parked for more than 20 minutes”.
If you find yourself on a rig site with a heavy-duty diesel pickup, you may also be required to shut off your truck, unless it has a certified clean idle sticker.
Do you have any other tips for warming up a vehicle? Let us know or comment below.
Upton, Chad. “Warm Your Car Up Faster.” Broken Secrets, 25 Feb. 2010
Compilation of State, County, and Local Anti-Idling Regulations. Transportation and Regional Programs Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2006,
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to: