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Many of us are experiencing the inevitable shift to colder weather right now. The chilly temperatures can make getting into your car in the morning or after a long day at work feel like stepping into your deep freezer.
If you’re looking for the best ways to get your car nice and toasty as quickly and efficiently as possible, there are some proven methods that will help maximize the output of your car’s heater. Listed below are five expert-level tips which will keep your car in tip-top shape even while it keeps you nice and warm (and able to see out of the windows) no matter how frigid the weather is outside.
Stop Idling In The Driveway
How many of us let our car run while idle in the driveway to warm it up before getting in? It’s a method that’s been favored for generations, but an automotive expert at Consumer Reports says a vehicle will heat up faster if it’s moving.
“The sooner you move, the sooner the engine begins working, the sooner the engine starts creating heat that will warm the passengers,” Jake Fisher explained in a recent article. His background includes work on the climate-control systems for a major automaker.
Also, letting your car idle for a long period of time could be illegal, depending on where you live. At least 35 states and Washington, D.C. have anti-idling laws on the books, according to AutoZone.
Turn On The A/C
We know it sounds crazy, but Consumer Reports also suggests turning on the air-conditioning option to get your car to heat up faster.
“Even if you want warm air from your system, turning the A/C on cools down the incoming air to just above freezing, but then it is reheated before it enters the cabin,” Fisher said in the publication. “This is done to remove moisture from the air, which otherwise would collect on cold glass, keeping you from being able to see out.”
Another plus of having the air conditioner on in freezing temps is that it will not eat up your fuel efficiency like it does in the summer, since the components don’t have to work hard to cool the air. So, let the air conditioner do its job and get that air moving and starting to warm up.
Keep The Fan Speed Low At First
It’s tempting to do this but Fisher also said that drivers should not crank the fan up to high speed when first turning the heat on. The air coming out of the vents at the beginning will be cold and turning the heater onto high won’t get the air warmer any faster, it will merely blast more cold air onto everyone in the car. A car’s heating system can detect air temperature and adjust fan speed once the air gets warmer.
Crack A Window To Clear Fog
Again, this is a tip that sounds a little out there, especially in the winter months when you’re trying to trap heat, but fresh air will help prevent the windows from fogging up while you drive. An open window minimizes the water vapor that comes from people’s breathing inside the cabin, even if the window is just cracked a sliver.
It’s the vapor from that breath that condenses on glass surfaces and causes the visibility-reducing fog you often get inside the windows when driving in the cold. This is where turning on the heater’s defrost mode also helps, as it uses air conditioning to dry the hot air that is aimed at your windshield and front windows from the top and sides of the dashboard.
Turn Off Recirculation Mode
In the summertime, drivers use the recirculation mode to keep cool air in the car (it’s the little button that shows a car with a curved arrow inside it). However, this mode works a little differently in the winter, especially if you want to keep your windows clear.
When using the recirculation mode of your heater, it traps warm, moist air inside the cabin. That may feel good, but it will build up condensation and lead to frost and fog on your windows. So, let the heater bring in some fresh, cool air and then warm it to keep everyone comfortable and safe this winter while on the road.
By following these tips, you will get the best results from your car’s heating system all winter long. And, if these tips don’t help improve your heater’s performance, schedule a visit with your dealership or mechanic to get a complete check-up to ensure everything is working properly.