Car Care

How to Keep a Car Warm Overnight [4 Solutions]

Cold weather can be tough on cars. It can be even tougher on the people that need to use them to get places in the morning for work or school. If you are moving to a really cold place like Alaska, you will need to know how to keep your car warm overnight so that you can make it to work in the morning or get your kids to school.

Keeping your car warm overnight requires that you use tools like an engine block heater or an oil pan heater and that you keep your car running or store it indoors at night. You can also use an electric blanket over the engine or use a dipstick heater to keep your car warm each night.

Keeping your car warm at night is an important part of making sure that your car will be useable in the coldest parts of the year when you live in a place that gets a lot of snow and cold temperatures.

If you want to learn how to keep your car warm overnight, read on for more information!

What Temperature is Too Cold to Start a Car in the Morning?

Starting a car can be really tough when the temperature outside gets below freezing. If the temperature stays this low for more than twenty-four hours, it becomes even more important to be able to make sure that your car is warm enough in the morning to be useful to you. You do not want to damage your car by trying to force it to run when the weather is very cold.

The reason that your car might not be usable in the morning when it has been very cold is the fluids in the engine might be freezing and your battery might be affected.

You need to be sure that your engine is not so cold that you cannot start your car. Being able to keep your car engine warm when it is very cold is very important to your ability to use your car in very cold weather.

How to Keep a Car Warm Overnight

You may not have to use all of these tips and tricks to keep your car warm overnight, but in some situations, they will all be necessary to make sure your car will start in the cold. Alaska and other places that get very low temperatures at night can lead to the use of all of these tips and tricks during each winter night.

Engine Block Heater

An engine block heater is used to make sure that the engine and the fluids within it are warm before you start the car. When it is very cold out, you will want to be sure that you have something like an engine block heater to keep the fluid components of your engine warm.

An engine block heater can come in various types and some vehicles come with them from the factory.  Many engine block heaters are easy to install if your car does not come with one. The basic types of engine block heaters all make sure that your engine oil and other engine fluids are warm enough for the car to start when it is very cold.

  •  Frost Plug Heater- replaces your existing frost plug and heats the coolant directly. This has to be professionally installed.
  •  Engine Warming Blanket- this is a blanket that is placed over the engine. It radiates heat into the engine under the hood when plugged in.
  • Oil Pan Heater- This is a heater for the oil pan that heats the oil itself. This might be attached by magnets or inside the oil pan. You will need a professional to install this.

These are all good options that are commonly used by people who live in cold locations to make sure that their engines will start when they need them to.

Dipstick Heater

This is a unique but very effective kind of heater that is installed in the engine oil dipstick. It is easy to install and it also heats the oil directly. This is a great solution if you want a solution that you can install yourself.

This may not work for some makes and models of cars and you will need to do some research before you commit to this as a solution for your vehicle. A mechanic or some simple online research should tell you if you can use this solution for your engine warming needs.


In-Line Heater

This is a pump that circulates coolant through your engine. This needs to be professionally installed but it can be one of the most effective solutions for your engine warming needs. Many cold locations like Alaska can require this kind of solution for your engine warming needs.

Bolt-On Heater

This is a great solution if you cannot use some of the solutions that alter your engine directly like a dipstick heater. This heater is attached to the block and heats the coolant directly. You might need professional help to install this heater as there is an electrical cord that makes the heater work while the car is parked.

Leave Your Car Running using Remote Start 

While not the best solution on the list, this is a common emergency solution that people use to make sure that their car will start in the morning. This is a wasteful way to take care of your car engine being warm in the morning, but it can take care of your needs in a pinch.

You will find that this solution will work well enough if you have enough gas to idle your car for some hours. This is a great solution for your needs if you are trapped on the side of the road for one reason or another. Make sure that you try to prevent your car from being stolen if you need to leave it running overnight.


Park in a Heated Garage

A heated garage will make sure that your car engine will be warm enough to get going in the morning. This might not be possible for everyone, but you will find that a heated garage will be your best option for using your car in very cold weather every time.

park in a heated car garage

How Long Do You Need to Warm Your Car?

All of these different methods work at different rates, but you do not need to warm your car’s engine for the whole night. For some of these solutions, you can just set aside a couple of hours to take care of your engine warming needs before you need to use your car.

You will also only need to heat your car when temperatures are lower than 32 degrees for longer than a few hours. This might require that you check out the temperature that it is projected to be overnight. Sometimes the location that you live in will not require that you keep your engine warm every single night.

Some of the heating solutions that have been discussed on this list can be turned on with a timer so that you are not heating your engine all night long and are instead only heating it for a few hours before you need to use your car. This is not the case for every single solution on this list. You will find that most of these solutions can be handled in this way to make sure that you are not wasting electricity and time heating your engine when you do not need to.

You should only need to use a heater for two to four hours before you need to drive somewhere. You can check on the specs of any of these engine heating solutions before you choose them if the timing is really important for your needs. Not all of these solutions will warm your engine at the same rate.

Be sure to consider how cold it is outside as well. Even the most efficient engine heating solution will struggle to warm up your engine when it is any colder than 20 degrees. You will need to add extra time to your engine heating schedule if the temperature has dipped closer to zero or negative temperatures.

Why Does Your Car Engine Need to be Warm to Start?

Your car engine needs to be warm enough that the oil that is used to lubricate it can flow to all the parts of it. If it gets too cold, all the fluids and oil in your engine will freeze solid. Trying to start your car when it is this cold can actually damage the engine due to the fact that the engine oil is frozen.

Additionally, when your car’s engine is very cold, the engine will be hardened. This means that it will take even more battery power to start the engine. The cold will reduce the amount of current that your battery can generate, which compounds the problems. Engines are meant to be run at no lower than 40 degrees.

Be Sure to Carry Emergency Items In Your Car

Always remember that winter driving can be full of unexpected challenges. If you run into engine trouble and it is very cold out, you might be stranded in your car.

If the temperature remains low enough, you may not be able to get your car started even after repairs. Make sure that you carry blankets, water, and some food with you when you travel in the cold weather months.

Being prepared for the worst kind of weather can make the difference between being safe and not being safe if you run into car troubles in the winter.

Whether you have the means to heat up your engine with you or not, you might not be able to get to a location that will allow you to plug in the engine heater that you brought with you. Make sure that you are prepared for the worst anytime that you decide to drive in cold weather.

Keeping a Car Warm Overnight Doesn’t Have to be Hard

If you use the tips and tricks on this list, you will be able to keep your car warm overnight, even in the coldest weather.

Keeping your engine warm will prevent damage to it in the cold weather and make it possible for you to use your car in any kind of winter weather. You will just need to make sure that you use the right engine warming solution for your car’s unique needs.

A warm engine is a healthy engine and you will be glad that you decided to use these engine warming solutions when the cold weather hits! Keeping your car warm overnight might prevent a car door froze shut issue. 

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