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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to safely heat your car: remote car starters, block heaters and other solutions

How to safely heat your car: remote car starters, block heaters and other solutions



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With falling temperatures far into the negatives During the winter, it̵

7;s no wonder some people don’t mind leaving their car in the driveway for a while. After all, who wants to be shivering in a car? But desperation to shake the cold can expose you in other ways.

Leaving your keys in the ignition can leave you locked out of your own car – or worse, can lead to theft of your car. That’s not the only concern, though – prolonged idling can waste oil, drain your battery, and even reduce your car’s performance. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to safely heat up your car, even if you leave it unattended.

Understanding oil and your engine

Those sub-zero mornings don’t make your day any easier. While some people may be experienced in dealing with the cold, arctic winds can even make the teeth of hardened winter veterans chatter. A freezing cold morning also takes a heavy toll on your car. Motor oil is a heat resistant lubricant that prevents wear on metals that rub together during surgery. This thin film prevents excessive friction between rubbing surfaces, reducing the risk of mechanical jamming or failure.

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Engine oil flows through the engine to keep it functioning effectively.

CNET

After your car is turned off, the residual heat from combustion escapes through the engine block and headers, radiating a temperature gradient under your hood. As the heat escapes your engine, the oil that was once suspended in other components begins to drip into the oil sump.

When engine oil is hot, it acts as a hydraulic fluid and a lubricant. However, as with most fluids, temperature can affect the viscosity or thickness of engine oil. Normally, when you turn on your car, the oil pump delivers the lubricant through your engine to all the components that need it. However, when oil thickens, it can put stress on the pump and cause some components to run without sufficient lubricant, which can lead to wear and tear or even outright damage.

A warm start

You may have heard that warming up your car for at least 5 minutes is good for your engine. That idea has some merit. When the engine is warm, the vehicle components operate in a much healthier state. But the cold idle period can still lead to engine wear. One way to avoid a cold start is with an engine block heater – a type of space heater that allows the inner workings of your car to warm up before you start the engine.

Block heaters vary in price, but you can find many for less than a hundred dollars. By using a block heater, you can avoid some of the wear and tear that usually accompanies those super low temperatures during the winter.

Some units even let you program them to perfectly time the heating for when you need it most. When the block heater is applied, the engine oil begins to warm up, making the engine ready to run without any damage.

Done, remote start

A block heater is an effective way to heat the vital parts of your engine, which can help maintain the health of your car over time. Unfortunately, a warm engine doesn’t translate directly to a warm cabin Fortunately, you can start your car remotely with the push of a button, right from your home.

Remote car starters, or remote engine cranks, are devices that start your engine after receiving a signal from your remote control. This remote can be used from a considerable distance and can save you the hassle of having to get outside earlier to start your car the cabin becomes sufficiently warm.

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Many remote starters come with extra security measures to ensure that a thief can’t just drive away with your moving car.

Daniel Golson / Roadshow

If you’re thinking of buying a remote car starter, look for one that keeps your doors locked and shuts off automatically when you get out of park. Starting your vehicle remotely can leave you vulnerable to car thieves – so having a starter with such built-in security features is important to prioritize.

Another thing to keep in mind is where your car is: if you have a garage it is important to open the garage door and leave it as is before starting your car remotely – otherwise you risk building up harmful fumes in the enclosed space.

If you use a block heater, you only need to remotely start your car a few minutes before you drive away, because the engine is already warm enough to heat your car efficiently. For particularly icy mornings, letting your car idle for 3 to 4 minutes will help remove the ice After you get into the daily routine of setting up the block heater and starting your car remotely a few minutes before you drive away, you will notice how much smoother your car runs on those chilly mornings.

We get it – it’s really cold outside. Who wants to drive around in a car so cold they can’t feel their fingertips? But don’t let your discomfort stifle your security. Keep your doors locked and use a remote starter motor instead of leaving your keys in your car. If you want to learn more about making your car safer and more convenient, read our recommendations external car starters emergency kits and jump starters


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