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How Long Should I Warm Up My Car In Winter?

A black Chevy Tahoe is driving in the snow.

Whether you’re getting ready for a ski trip, visiting family, or taking a scenic drive around the Oshkosh area, chances are you’ll want to warm up your car before heading out. But how long should you warm up your car in winter temperatures? Should you at all? The answer may surprise you: it only takes about 30 seconds of running your car to safely drive on the wintery Sheboygan roads.

Quick Start, Slow Acceleration

Thanks to fuel injectors and modern oil technology, your engine is ready to run after only 30 seconds to a minute, even in the coldest temperatures. That doesn’t mean your engine is warm, though. As you drive, watch the engine’s temperature gauge on your dashboard. While it remains near the C (for Cold), avoid accelerating aggressively. Once the gauge reads the temperature to be evenly between the C and the H (for Hot), your engine is running at its optimal temperature and can be driven normally. 

Can Your Car Warm Up Longer?

There are other reasons you may want to let your car warm up for longer. Letting a car warm up before driving gives the window defrosters time to melt any ice on the windshield and can bring the cabin up to a more comfortable temperature. In reality, though, the engine will warm up much faster when driving. By waiting for your car to warm up, you could be wasting fuel and emitting extra carbon dioxide.

Stay Warm This Winter With Holiday Automotive

Knowing your car should only need half a minute to warm up in the winter, you can hop on the road sooner and enjoy all Wisconsin has to offer! If for some reason your car doesn’t seem to be blowing heat into the cabin, even after a few minutes of driving, check out our Car Heater FAQ’s or contact our service team. We’ll be happy to get you back on the road and enjoying the season!


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