Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Is this normal for a car's heater

I drive a '98 Lumina (yes, I know it’s old) and have a question about the heater. When I start up the car in the morning, it takes at least a good fifteen minutes, sometimes longer, for the heat to reach a functional level. This means that if I want to de-fog my windshield or just warm up the car in general, it takes an insanely long amount of time for the car to do this. Despite being 11 years old, the car is in great shape. Still runs fine, has almost no rust, and has been very well taken care of over the years. Heat is kind of an important thing to have in a car, as I live in the great white north, and most days my commute isn’t even 15 minutes, so I’d like to know if there is something that can be fixed or adjusted on my car to make it heat up faster. Or am I just out of luck on a car this age? Any help would be appreciated.

Right off the bat, make sure the thermostat is functioning properly. This device is what controls engine coolant warm-up time. If the thermostat is stuck partially open, you’ll start to notice the temp inside the vehicle isn’t sufficiant to keep the windows clear. Then when it gets really cold, you’ll notice your teeth start chattering.


The only thing I can think of to cut the warmup time down is to place an AC heater inside the cab to heat things up faster. If you do that you have to be very careful how you place it so bad things don’t happen.

I would install a new thermostat. 15 minutes is too long. You should be able to feel at least some heat in five minutes or less if the thermostat is working correctly.

Faster engine warm-up cuts fuel consumption, too. Thermostats are not expensive, and many of us consider them do-it-yourself items.