How Can I Heat My Car Without A Heater?

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When you get up one cold morning, step into your car, start it and crank up the heat, you expect it to take a minute or two to start warming. But, what if you realize that only cold air is coming out of the vents? Or worse, still, the blowers aren’t working at all?

Fixing a broken car heater can be very costly, but luckily, there is a cheap and easy solution to heating your car without a heater.

broken car heater

Can You Drive A Car Without Heat In The Winter?

It’s usually possible to drive a car with a broken heater in the winter, as even cold air will be enough to keep the windshield from fogging up. However, if the heater isn’t blowing any air at all and it’s cold outside, then you may find it impossible to keep your windshield clear enough to drive safely.

If your car heater isn’t working, then this may not cause much of an issue at all in the summer. But when the winter rolls around, you’ll have two problems. The first is keeping the windshield clear, the second is avoiding frostbite for yourself and your passengers!

Is There A Portable Heater For Cars?

12V portable car heaters are cheap to buy. They plug into your cigarette lighter and create a blast of warm air that’s sufficient to clear your windshield and keep you warm. These are ideal to use if your car’s main heater or thermostat is broken.

With any heater that runs off your car battery, you should only use it when the engine is running. Otherwise, you’re likely to drain the battery pretty quickly.

Portable Car Heater

The best portable car heater for cars is this ZAKAA 12V car heater. It has suction cups and adjustable arms to keep it positioned securely on your dashboard. With two modes for heating and cooling, this will be handy to keep you cool in the summer as well as warm in the winter.

The above option is the best way to your cold car warm if your heater is only blowing cold air.

However, if your heater isn’t blowing at all you’ll be better off with a defogger that you can point directly at the windshield, rather than at yourself.

Windshield Defogger

This windshield defroster heats up within 30 seconds to defrost your windshield and keep it clear throughout your journey. With a cool and warm setting, it will keep you nice and warm too.

This heater will rotate 360°, so you can aim the airflow where it’s needed most – your windshield, your passengers, or yourself.

Car Dehumidifier

A windshield that fogs easily becomes much more of an issue in a car that’s damp. This is especially common with cars that are more than five years old, as the seals can loosen, allowing moisture into the vehicle.

To reduce the humidity in a car and help to keep the windshield clear, even if the blowers aren’t working properly, I would recommend that you buy a reusable car dehumidifier.

Simply pop the pack into the microwave for six minutes, then place it in your car and it will start to absorb not just excess humidity, but also any bad odors, leaving your car smelling fresh and new.

How To Stay Warm When Your Car Heater Is Broken

If your heater is blowing cold air, you may find that a foggy windshield isn’t a problem as the cold air may be enough to clear it. But the problem with having that cold air blasting into your car is that it can make the journey really unpleasant.

However, there are some cheap and easy ways to keep warm in a cold car in winter.

Heated Steering Wheel Cover

Even if you’ve dressed warmly enough to keep warm, you still need to have your hands on the steering wheel. If you’re like me, you don’t feel as confident driving with heavy gloves on.

You can purchase heated steering wheel covers that are powered by your cigarette lighter, rechargeable batteries, or even your car’s USB port. These heat up quickly and will keep your hands warm for safe driving.

Heated Seat Cover

If you’ve ever ridden in a car with heated seats, you’ll know how lovely that warm and cozy feeling on your rear end can be! It’s usually only high-end cards that have heated seats, but with the addition of a heated seat cover, you can get the same warm feeling for a fraction of the price.

Heated Car Blanket

If you need to keep your kids warm in the back seat of your car with a broken heater, then they’re sure to love a heated blanket.

This one plugs into the cigarette lighter and is large enough to cover everyone on the back seat and keep them lovely and warm on even the coldest of days. As it’s not recommended to strap a child into a car seat while wearing a bulky coat, this is a great option to stay safe.

Reasons A Car Heater May Not Be Working

An improperly working heating system can be caused by several different issues:

  • Faulty thermostat
  • Low levels of coolant
  • Broken heater fan
  • Faulty blower motor resistor
  • A clog in the coolant system
  • Leaking radiator
  • Temperature gauge malfunction
  • Faulty wiring
  • A blown fuse

Most people will have no idea what these parts look like, let alone how to tell if they are working properly. Instead, you would have to rely on a qualified mechanic to solve the problem and fix the heating in the car.

Depending on the cause of the problem, it could lead to your engine overheating and permanent damage to your car. Or, it could be something that you’re able to leave, particularly if your car is old and it would cost a lot to fix.

The only way to know for sure is to get it checked out with someone who knows about cars.

mechanic fixing car heater

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Car Heater

Most heater-related car repairs cost between $300 and $1000, but it could be more or less than this, depending on the cause of the problem.

You may get lucky and find that the problem is as simple as topping up the coolant, in which case you may get away with paying as little as $50. For most cars, it’s worth asking a mechanic to take a look so that you can decide whether this problem is fixable within your budget.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding costly repairs is something we all want. Just as we all want our car’s heating, air conditioning, and defogging system to work for comfortable and safe driving. While regular maintenance, while we may avoid some problems, things still break.

Needing to wait for repairs doesn’t mean that you have to be uncomfortable or drive in unsafe conditions. A portable 12V plug-in heater that also defogs your windshield is a very easy, affordable solution.

Beyond that, you can heat your seat and steering wheel, or rely on heated blankets. If you really want to go low-tech and can’t afford lots of plug-in options, you can opt for warm clothing and hot drinks.

Just remember, the most important thing is to stay safe by keeping warm and, especially, by having a way to keep your windows clear.