Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Long Should It Take a Heater to Warm Up in Cold Weather

car heater

When you turn on your car’s heater, it should start blowing warm air. If the engine is already at operating temperature, this should happen immediately. However, if your engine is cold, it will take longer and if the weather is cold, the process is even lengthier.

There’s no real answer to how long it should take a heater to warm up during cold weather. It really depends on several different factors. One of those is the type of vehicle you’re driving. Most older cars can require several minutes or so to come up to operating temperature and for the heater to start working. However, some newer cars require only a minute or two. Another factor is the temperature – if it’s very, very cold (think northern Minnesota in January), then it can take longer for even newer cars to build up enough heat to create warm air in the cabin. Other considerations include the following:

  • Thermostat Condition: The thermostat in your car restricts coolant flow depending on engine operating temperature. If it’s stuck open, your heater might never blow warm air because the engine’s operating temperature never reaches the right level.

  • Low Coolant: If your engine coolant level is low, your heater might blow mildly warm air, or it might blow only cool air. That’s because your car’s heater works on coolant – the coolant cycles through the engine, absorbs heat, and then transports that to the heater core in your dash, where it’s used to warm the air blown out of your vents.

If your heater takes a long time to warm up, or never warms up at all, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong, and you’ll need to your heater inspected and diagnosed by a professional mechanic.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem...
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...


Related questions

Q: Heater and A/C does not work

Hi there. From the description you have provided, your vehicle's inoperative heater and A/C, may be a combination of problems. First, the inoperative blower motor needs to be diagnosed. A common failure with your vehicle is, the blower resistor and...

Q: How do I use the engine heater?

The engine heater can restore the engine to a working temperature when your vehicle has been resting in very cold conditions. To use the engine heater, first make sure that the vehicle is turned off. Then, open the hood, and...

Q: Stalling then hard to start

When you start your car in the morning and turn the key to on, the coolant temperature sensor immediately reads the temperature of the coolant and relays this to the computer indicating that the coolant is cold. The computer then...