Why Does My Car Take Forever To Warm Up?

As we head into the winter months in Canada, the cold weather can put a strain on many of your vehicle’s components. If you’ve noticed that your engine is taking longer than usual to warm up in cold weather, there are a few simple checks you can perform to try to solve your issue.

Image of Man in Car takinf forever to warm up

Does your Engine Have Enough Coolant?

The first thing you should check is your coolant level. Coolant is the fluid that is used to reduce or regulate your engine’s temperature, depending on the conditions. It’s specifically designed to withstand very hot temperatures, and also formulated with antifreeze to ensure it won’t freeze in the winter. Most car manufacturers have very specific coolant that’s designed for their vehicles, so ask your NAPA adviser which one is best for your car.

How to Check Your Coolant Levels

Coolant typically lasts up to ten years or 200,000 km before you need to replace it. However, like most fluids, it can break down over time, so it’s possible that you may need to change it sooner.

Checking coolant is simple. Under the hood, you’ll see a coolant overflow tank. On the side of the tank, it’ll say “low” and “high.” Always make sure your coolant level is between these two lines. If your coolant level is low, stop by your local NAPA store to pick some up. Depending on your vehicle, a 1.89 L jug of coolant can cost as little as $11.99.

NAPA Coolant

Starting at 14.80 $

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Inspect Your Thermostat

If your coolant is at a good level, but you still feel that your vehicle is taking too long to warm up, there could be an issue with your thermostat.

Your vehicle’s thermostat is a valve located between the engine and radiator. When the coolant gets too warm, the thermostat opens to allow the coolant back into the radiator to be cooled. If you know where the thermostat is on your vehicle, you may notice some seepage or corrosion around it, but typically, there won’t be any visual signs that your thermostat is bad. You can purchase a new thermostat from your local NAPA store for as little as $40.


Starting at 2.96 $

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Your Cooling System Has Air Pockets (Improperly Bled)

You’ve checked the above, replaced your coolant, and you know your thermostat is fine. Then you notice one or more of the following:

  • Your vehicle becomes overheated.
  • Inside the cabin, you hear what sounds like water rushing.
  • There is no hot hair blowing through your vents at all.

These issues can arise if you’ve recently replaced your vehicle’s coolant and it was improperly bled, i.e., the air trapped in the system wasn’t removed when the new coolant was added.

None of these issues are good, so make sure you know how to replace coolant or take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic. A radiator funnel kit can be purchased for $59.99 at NAPA.

NAPA Service Tools Radiator Funnel Kit

59.99 $

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Bad Radiator or Failing Water Pump

Finally, you could have a bad radiator, which can be catastrophic for your engine. Pay attention to these four signals to know if you need a new radiator:

  1. Your vehicle is overheating.
  2. Your vehicle is leaking coolant.
  3. You have sludge build-up in your radiator.
  4. Your coolant levels are low.

If your car isn’t heating up as well as it should, make sure there are no visual signs of a leak. Radiators are on the more expensive side, but they won’t set you back as much as replacing your engine—which you might need to do if you ignore this repair.

If your water pump is leaking or faulty, it will do one of two things: it will either leak, leaving a pink, crusty build-up on the passenger side of the engine, or you’ll hear a loud noise coming from that side. Water pumps need to be replaced by a mechanic, but you can buy one from us for as low as $102.79.


Starting at 90.90 $

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Don’t Ignore the Signs

Engines need more time to warm up in cold weather. If you feel your engine’s taking much longer to warm up than it should, you now know how to inspect and solve your vehicle heating issue. Be sure to check out other NAPA blogs for other useful tips and advice.

And last but not least, don’t forget that your local NAPA parts adviser is always available to answer your questions!

1 Reply to “Why Does My Car Take Forever To Warm Up?”

  1. Yehya Hammadouche says:

    If the issue with your cooling system persists, we recommend that you visit one of our NAPA AUTOPRO centers to diagnose your vehicle.

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