Car Heater Question

I used to live in California, but I now live in Montana, which I love. The only downside is that the winters are long and cold, but after 7 years of living here I’ve gotten quite used to the winter weather.

We have a 2015 Toyota 4-Runner which we are very happy with, but when it’s cold outside it takes at least 5 minutes of highway driving before the engine warms up enough to provide decent heat for the occupants. The car is parked in a garage, and I sometimes warm up the car for 10 minutes before jumping in, but running it at idle for 10 minutes doesn’t warm of the engine, and I still have to drive 5 minutes before any hot air comes out of the heater.

Before you call me a wimp for complaining about driving a cold car for 5 minutes, keep in mind that it may be -10 degrees outside and I have to bundle up to be comfortable, and once the car warms up I then have to shed by coat, scarf, gloves etc. I suppose I could heat my garage up to 70 degrees, but that would be expensive and wasteful.

Why don’t car makers sell a “cold weather” option that includes an electric interior heater that would warm up the passengers until the engine is warm enough to provide adequate heat? Or do they?

Don’t some cars have heated seats?

Radiator Hose Heater.
I’ve never used one and you may want to look for variations.

It’s a real long shot but you might have a bad thermostat. If they stick open it takes longer for the cabin heater to warm up. Not too likely in such a new car, but ten minutes even just idling should be more than enough time for heat.

You can partially block the radiator so it will run a little hotter, but for a longer drive you should stop and unblock it when it warms up. There are different heaters for the engine, even ones that will recirculate the coolant through a heater. Maybe a cold weather thermostat is available for your car, check parts stores. What do your neighbors do? Or ask the parts guy at your local Autozone or other what people are doing.

Block heaters for Toyota.

Well, certainly the most popular solution locally is a remote starter switch, so if it takes you 15+ minutes to warm the truck up, you just hit the switch 20 minutes ahead of time.

Might also check coolant level. Do so in the the radiator, not the coolant overflow tank.

I’ve wondered this too. Electric cars deal with this (though I suspect poorly)

Anyway, 10 minutes is just not enough.

Don’t even think about using a remote starter if the car is kept in a garage. Even with the clean burning engines on modern vehicles, CO poisoning can still happen. However if you are willing to park the car outside, it’s a good choice as it will also be available after you get off of work or otherwise away from home.

I’ve installed electric freeze plug heaters on cars which helps the car start plus warms the engine. Something like a heater hose heater could also work plus defrost/deice the windows. Just don’t forget to unplug the cord before driving away.

It takes me about 5 minutes of slow driving for my car to reach normal temperature. But that’s at SoCal typical temperatures. I’m not surprised it takes much longer in really cold climates. If you look at large trucks, they have movable louvers on the front of their grill to restrict airflow over the radiator in colder weather. I don’t know if they make such a thing for passenger cars, but that would do the trick for you if they did.

Webasto Retrofit parking heaters…

Five minutes doesn’t seem too terribly long a time for the engine to come up to temperature, however ten minutes of warm-up not getting there does sound wrong. Check with the local Toyota dealership, see if they think it’s unusual. Here’s a quick and easy test: With the engine stone cold, remove the radiator cap and start your engine. If you see coolant circulating right away, then you’ve a thermostat either stuck open or missing.

I expect that an electric heater for the interior would not be practical. The at best, you have an 130 Amp alternator, but at idle, I’d guess half that. Half that again to take care of battery charging, powering the ignition & other electronics and you only have around about 30-40 amps at 14 volts (400-550 watts) to use for heating. A household space heater is usually 1500 watts, so anything you could get would be rather anemic at -10F.

I’d talk to a local Toyota dealership and see what they can offer. You can’t be the only one to have run into this problem. Even if you have a defective thermostat (or something else), they have probably dealt with it.

I don’t know about the 4Runner but some toyos have a heat mixing valve that limits the amount of heat transferred to the interior. So check to see that valve is wide open. Also had a small Toyota that was terrible at heating up. It was an old beat up car I passed to someone else who also had the problem and he passed it on to someone else with long skinny arms who reached way down into the heat duct and opened a flap that had been stuck shut.

Anyway, 10-15 minutes to heat up doesn’t sound that bad. The ducts are full of cold air and it takes a while for them to warm up, and then you have a large interior space to heat also.

Something doesn’t sound right here. I have a 2005 Chevy HHR. On my usual route, the first intersection with a stoplight is roughly 1/4 mile away, and usually takes me about 2 minutes from garage to intersection. That intersection is the point at which I turn on the heater fan, and warm air comes instantly out of the heater.

I suspect the OP has thermostat problems.