Best way to warm car in winter

Now that winter is here, what is the most quickest way for your inside of your car to warm up? I personally will leave the heater off and actually go a few miles till i see the engine temp rise before turning on the heater. Meanwhile my sister will jump into the car, start it up and crank the heater on right away. So which way is better?

Your way. Your sister’s way will introduce marginal heat earlier, but the heating amount won’t improve as fast. Tell her to think of the heater like a fire. When you first start the car, you’ve just kindled the fire. You aren’t going to get warm from a few burning twigs. You have to wait until the fire is hot before you can expect to get heat from it.

If the heater is operating the coolant is being cooled by the heater core as well as the radiator and the engine will take longer to reach operating temperature. Personally, I leave the heat on, but turn to fan to low. That way I can tell when the air starts warming up without taking my eyes off the road to look at the temp gage.

While it might be argued that an engine allowed to warm as quickly as possible will last longer and pollute less, I doubt of the difference would be measurable. I don;t think it really matters to the car whether you do it your way or your sister’s way.

The thermostat should be in a closed position until the coolant warms up so I’m not sure it really makes a difference.

The heater core is actually like a small radiator. So, what your sister is doing is actually removing heat from the engine’s coolant at the same time that it is attempting to heat up. Ergo–her car will take longer to warm up as a result of her…strange…way of doing things.

The best way to warm a car in the winter is to idle it very briefly (like 30 seconds to a minute), with the heater turned off. Then, drive the car very gently/conservatively–again with the heater turned off–until you see the temperature gauge beginning to rise off of its low reading.

Once the temp gauge registers a rise in temperature, you can then drive “normally” and can also turn on the heater.

Many/most cars (don’t know about the OP’s) circulate coolant through the heater core even when the thermostat is closed.

Even for those that don’t have the control valve, coolant circulating through a heater core without the heater fan on dissipates heat about as well as a radiator without its cooling fan working…poorly.

Heat off still warms the engine more quickly than heat on.

My sister usually lets the car sit and run to “warm up” in the driveway from anywere from 5 minutes to I have seen as long as 15 minutes, then she hops in a 'warm" car and drives off…

Unnecessary and wasteful.

I agree and have told her so, but her view is she is NOT going to drive around in a cold car, plus this is best for “engine” because it needs to be warm before driving. I just laugh…

A car is there to serve us. We all have our own levels of comfort and our own preferences. If she prefers to get into a warmed car, she has a lot of company. Lots of folks around here (NH) even have the remote starting systems installed, so they can warm the car up before getting in without even setting foot outside. Me, I’ve never had one and likely never will.

But I have to comment that if her preference is to NOT drive around in a cold car anymore than necessary, her approach is counterproductive.

My sister usually lets the car sit and run to “warm up” in the driveway
from anywere from 5 minutes to I have seen as long as 15 minutes, then
she hops in a 'warm" car and drives off…

There are many people who want to get into a warm car. I fully believe it’s OK and harmless to do so.

Does it waste a bit more gas? Yes, a bit. But if you don’t worry about the extra gas you use to go back to the grocery store for that milk you forgot to buy, or the Sunday drive you take for enjoyment, then you don’t need to worry about fuel for warming up your car.

Does it add wear to an engine? In theory yes (especially with the carburetor-ed cars of yesteryear), but you’ll never find anyone who can show you their shortened engine life because they warmed up their engine on cold mornings.

Sorry, I wasn’t talking about a heater control valve preventing circulation. I was pointing out to Goldwing that coolant can (and often does) circulate through the heater core even when the engine’s thermostat is closed.

The best way to have a toasty warm car immediately is to install a Stewart Warner Southwind gasoline heater. Unfortunately, these Southwind gasoline heaters are no longer made because too many wimps didn’t want a flame in the car. Since we no longer have these Southwind units, your way of leaving the heater off for a few minutes until the temperature begins to come up is the quickest way to get heat. It really doesn’t take long since there is a bypass hose. I suppose starting the heater right away allows the coolant as it warms up to flow through the heater core so it warms a few microseconds more quickly than it would if it remains cold until the warmer coolant begins to flow through it.

At any rate, it probably isn’t worth a family feud. A good political battle is worth it, however.

My wife and I have had this debate. Despite my informing her the engine coolant needed to warm up before any heat was produced… she won.

Sometimes it comes down to keeping marital or family peace.

My guess is either way the car cabin warms up just about as fast, assuming you start the car wait about 30 seconds then drive off. The topic of letting the car sit idling in the driveway to warm up is a separate issue. If you don’t mind paying for the extra gas I don’t really see this hurting the car if it is a fuel injected car running properly.

For me I usually don’t warm the car in the driveway. I don’t like the feeling of blowing cold air, so I drive until I see the temp guage move off the bottom before turning on the blower. In 2 cars I have that have “auto” heat settings they seem to wait until they sense warm coolant before turning up the blower.

I must admit when I have a passenger or two, on a very cold night or morning I might let the car warm in the driveway a few minutes. Sometimes comfort wins over saving fuel.

I usually will wait until the temp gauge begins to budge before turning the fan on. If I’m really cold, I might disregard that rule. If you have climate control, most of them are intelligent enough to not bring up the fan speed when on auto until there’s some heat there to keep from blasting you with arctic air.

Sometimes on bitterly cold days, I will warm the car for at least 5 minutes before getting in, and people that tell me I’m wasting gas, harming my engine, etc. can save their frozen breath. lol

With my new car I can wait a bit and it doesn’t bother me, especially since my car last winter had zero heat at all at anytime so I was always freezing in it no matter how long I drove the car.

I typically turn the heat on a bit to the windshield to remove frost when parked outside. The best method is what you like personally. My parents warm their car up 5-10 minutes and keep theirs for at least 200k and 15+ yrs with little issues. Usually rust does them in not engine issues.

Many years ago I was stationed in Germany. It gets cold there. In the field I worked out of the back of a 5-ton parts truck. We took an M-114 APC heater which used an igniter and glow plug to burn gasoline. Before they got the mess tent set up I was able to not only heat up the parts area, I could heat water to make coffee. I had the company commander and the rest of the brass sharing my little jar of Folgers instant coffee. Good times :slight_smile:

I wonder if that was made by Southwind.