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

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.


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Victor

35 years of experience
199 reviews
Victor
35 years of experience
Dodge Ram 1500 V8-5.7L - Heater is not working - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Victor from Your Mechanic, arrived on time. He was professional, friendly and polite. He answered any questions concerning my vehicle's issue. He pinpointed the part in need of replacement and repair. I would highly recommend Victor to anyone looking for a mechanic.
Jeep Wrangler - Heater is not working - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Victor did a fantastic job on my Jeep. He wasn't able to fix the issue, unfortunately, but he diagnosed the problem and was able to get me some quotes from places I could take it to have it fixed. I will definitely recommend him to any friends or family in need of mechanical work and will keep him in mind for any future issues I may have!

Tim

15 years of experience
33 reviews
Tim
15 years of experience
Pontiac Torrent V6-3.4L - Heater is not working - Vancouver, Washington
Awesome mechanic as he knew what the issue was and recommendations to fix it...very knowledgeable and outgoing...easy to ask questions and just has a strong mechanical sense...I highly recommend his service...I’ll be using him again in the near future...

Greg

22 years of experience
206 reviews
Greg
22 years of experience
Mazda 3 L4-2.0L - Heater is not working - San Tan Valley, Arizona
Greg arrived on time, he was friendly and knowledgeable. Although the repair to my heater could have required an expensive part, Greg was able to manipulate the assembly to resolve the issue in a way that bypassed this expense and should stay in place for a good long time. Greg assured me that if I had any problem with it going forward, I could call him for further attention. He sent me his number, and also informed me of other types of maintenance that he can perform for me at the convenience of my home. I appreciated Greg's knowledgeability, his friendly, outgoing demeanor, and his quick resourcefulness. My only concern would be that he did not wear a mask, and was working inside my vehicle for about an hour. Though our interaction fortunately took place entirely outside, I still would have felt more comfortable if he'd had on a mask. Otherwise, everything about Greg's performance was excellent.

Jonathan

26 years of experience
77 reviews
Jonathan
26 years of experience
Ram 3500 L6-6.7L Turbo Diesel - Heater is not working - Marietta, Georgia
Jonathan was most helpful in diagnosing the problem and effecting repairs at a minimal cost to me, which I greatly appreciate!

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