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As the fall turns into winter, we’re faced with the familiar problem of trying to get some heat in the cabin quicker.

It’s inconvenient and time-consuming to warm it up

Before we go into detail in brief, the ways you can heat your car faster are 

  • Using a Block Heater
  • Turn the Temperature to Cold and Keep the Fan Off
  • Use the Remote Start
  • Start Driving Sooner

We’ll look in more detail at each below.

How To Get A Car Cabin Warm Quickly

Block Heater

Although expensive, the simplest and most obvious solution is to use a block heater.

If your engine is hot when you turn the key, the cabin can be hot right away too.

They work by heating the block and its oil until they’re warm enough to function efficiently.

Some vehicles come with these pre-fitted in the engine, but most are bought as add-ons after purchasing the vehicle. A variety of options and designs are available such as the conventional plug-in heater (costs $45 -$60); an engine-warming blanket placed on the top of the engine or the bonnet’s underside; an inline heater that connects to the coolant hose and heats the coolant inside, etc.

Vehicles with diesel engines have a greater need for such heaters since the oils in their engines become thicker and cool down much more in the winter. 

So block heaters are better for the engine and give you heat in the cabin as soon as you turn the key. They’re a real asset in colder states.

Turn the Temperature to Cold and Turn off the Fan

This may sound like the opposite of what you’re supposed to do, but understanding how the heater of your car works solves this confusion. When you turn on the heater, it removes heat generated by the engine and blows it into the cabin. 

Since you want your engine to heat up quicker, you need to stop this heat loss and keep heat trapped in the engine. This is similar to closing the oven to keep the heat inside. After your car has warmed up sufficiently, the heater can be turned on.

If your vehicle comes with an automatic climate control system, there’s no need to worry about this step: it will automatically prevent the fan from blowing until the engine is hot as long as you let it be (by not turning on the fan manually).

Remote Start Your Vehicle

This is a common feature in vehicles with push-to-start ignitions; it allows you to wirelessly start your car’s engine and the heating/cooling systems. A button activates this on your key fob. The car will honk, or its lights will flash, indicating that the system is now active.

With your engine running, it will slowly heat up without needing to be driven. When you get in your vehicle, it will be ready to drive. The system usually has security features that ensure your car is safe to be left alone.

Some important tips to remember when using this feature to make it safe and efficient:

  • Some criteria must be met before the engine starts. These include closed doors and hood, an inactive brake, the gear set to Park (P), etc.
  • For theft prevention, the doors and sunroof will be locked
  • Remember never to use this in closed spaces since the engine can use up all the oxygen and can cause Carbon Monoxide buildup
  • This works only twice before the key needs to be in the engine for the car to start
  • It is different from idling in that it’s not a complete engine start – only one enough to heat the engine and without the other effects of idling

 Just Start Driving

If you use good-quality fuel and coolant, driving away after a short while is one of the best ways to heat the engine in a modern car. The problem lies in low oil temperatures and pressure, though.

Just after starting, these are low and need to be built up before driving the car. However, good oil pressure is usually obtained within 30 seconds of starting the car. 

Waiting beyond the recommended 30 seconds is detrimental instead of beneficial (in general). Fuel is wasted running on idle, but this also wears out your engine more.

After you begin driving, the engine heats up much quicker than it would on idle. After achieving normal temperatures, chances of low fuel efficiency and emissions decrease.

It should also be remembered that this only works if your car can start in the first place

In sub-zero temperatures, your oil will become thick, old, or corroded batteries may give up, too.

Apart From Comfort, Are There Any Other Benefits?

Besides getting all warm and cozy in your car, having the engine warm has added benefits:

  • It decreases long-term engine wear and tear 
  • It increases your fuel efficiency and decreases engine emissions

This is only true when you idle for no more than 30 to 60 seconds, after which you risk harming the engine.

Revving the car in idle or staying longer than the recommended time can have bad side effects:

  • Idling uses more fuel than regular driving (3 cents per hour more)
  • This can cause the battery to drain and wear out the spark plugs faster


Adjust the temperature to cold and turn off the fan blower. After driving for a while, adjust the temperature to hot and enable the fan. It will heat up more quickly than if you were to drive off with the setting on hot right away.

So, what’s to be taken away from this is that heating your car before driving on a cold day is good practice as long as it’s between 30 seconds to a minute.

Beyond that, heating by idling ends up doing more harm than good.

However, if you face extreme climate conditions, more steps must be taken, which may take longer (a block heater will take a couple of hours) before you can get on your way.

Many people set a timer to turn the blanket on in the early morning hours so they get in the cabin and drive away immediately.

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