How long should you warm up your car in winter?

4 minute read Published on Mar 13, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

How long should you warm up your car in winter?

Canada is known for its cold and long winters. Whether it's wearing extra layers or leaving the house with a scarf and a hat, the extra layers are essential to keep you warm. While you get ready to change into snow tires for protection for winter drives, have you wondered whether you should also warm up your car before heading out the driveway?

You probably don't enjoy being cold, and neither does your car. Most drivers like to turn their engines on and wait for the car to warm up so they don't have to drive in a cold vehicle. Not only does a warm car make you feel better, but it also protects the car.

Is there a right amount of time to warm up your car in the winter before you can hit the roads? Let's explore this question to understand what you should do.

Does your car need to warm up before driving?

Before diving into the optimal time for warming up your car during the colder months, let's break down why you should warm up your vehicle first. You may have heard that driving with a cold engine is bad for your car, and while we don't do it for the same reasons as we used to anymore, there are a few reasons why drivers continue to warm their cars during cold temperatures.

The need to warm up your vehicle started many years ago when cars had carbureted engines. Carbureted engines use a choke adjustment to get the air-fuel mixture right to keep the engine running. You had to warm up the car to get the right air-fuel mixture and prevent the vehicle from stalling.

With modern engines, this is no longer the main reason to warm up your car. Since modern cars use fuel-injected engines, most drivers warm their cars in colder temperatures to allow the engine to lubricate itself. When your car sits in the garage or on the driveway for a long time, the oil drains to the bottom of the oil pan. Letting your car idle with the vehicle's engine on for a few moments speeds up the lubrication process, ensuring the oil pump moves through the motor and all necessary engine components are fully lubricated.

Letting your engine idle and warm up before driving also helps with frosty windows. Especially during extreme cold weather, there would likely be a layer of ice on your windshield. The temperature quickly rises, and the ice melts, allowing you to see through the windshield and gain visibility while driving.

If you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, we recommend warming up your car while it's still plugged into the grid power. Warming up your vehicle takes a lot of battery power, so it's best to do it while connected to the charger. It preserves your battery range, so you don't have to charge your vehicle too soon.

How long should you let your car warm up?

You don't need to warm up your vehicle for a long time. If you follow winter car maintenance tips, you only need as little as 30 seconds, and you're good to go. Some modern vehicles have a temperature gauge that indicates when the engine is warmed up. The normal operating temperature for cars is when the temperature gauge needle is between C (cold) and H (hot).

How to warm up your vehicle faster

You've heard about tips for driving on icy roads and being equipped to handle the harsh Canadian winters. Here are a few tips to warm your car faster so you can start driving:

Drive normally

Normal driving for only a few minutes can help your car warm up faster, as your vehicle is most efficient at regular operating temperatures. Instead of excessive idling in your garage or driveway, drive as you would normally. The trick is not to accelerate too aggressively until your engine is fully warmed.

Use a block heater and battery pad

If you live somewhere with extreme cold, you may have seen an electrical power cord sticking out of the front bumper of cars. The cord hooks up electrical engine heaters, which is useful for diesel engines. You can find many engine heater types, such as heating pads, magnetic heaters, and oil heaters. Block heaters and battery pads are great options if overnight temperatures drop below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Buy a car with a heated steering wheel and heated seats

Most cars come equipped with a heated steering wheel and seat. It keeps you toasty as you drive in the winter and helps warm the interior quicker.

Clear the snow and ice

Driving with snow and ice on your vehicle is dangerous for you and the drivers and pedestrians around you. It also prevents your car from warming up. You can use the defroster mode in your vehicle to clear the ice and fog from your car. If you have an ice scraper and brush handy, you can also use it to brush off the snow and ice.

How much is car insurance per month in Ontario?

Car insurance can average from $250 to $600 per month. You may find cheaper or more expensive premiums depending on several factors. We help you compare car insurance quotes to find the best balance of price and coverage. Whether you're looking for liability car insurance or other types of auto insurance, we've got you covered.

Be safe on the winter roads with comprehensive car insurance

When the road conditions are poor, it's important to follow safe driving tips to keep you, your passengers, and pedestrians safe. Whether your car is stuck in the snow or you encounter some black ice, even the smallest accident can cause much damage.

That's why it's important to purchase car insurance. With a robust policy, including comprehensive car coverage, accident forgiveness, third-party liability car insurance, and accident benefits coverage, you have protection in case of accidents and lawsuits.

BrokerLink has an extensive network of insurance companies to help you find the best deals, with locations all across Canada.

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