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How To Stay Warm In A Car With No Heat

how to stay warm in a car

Stuck in a frosty car with a heater that’s blown its fuse?  And you’re stuck! Wondering, “How do I stay warm in a car?”

Well, you’re not the first!

To stay warm in a car without heat, ensure you have blankets, extra clothing, and thermal wear. It’s also beneficial to have candles for heat and light. Always check that the car’s exhaust is clear before running the engine intermittently for warmth.

When the temperature dips and the snow flurries start in winter, you could easily find yourself in this chilly predicament.

But don’t worry!

There are ways to keep it snug even when your vehicle’s heat goes AWOL.

We’re talking simple, effective strategies using everyday items you probably have lying around – like blankets, extra clothes, and candles.

You’ll be surprised at how a little preparation can go a long way toward keeping Jack Frost at bay. Ready to turn your icebox-on-wheels into a cozy refuge?

Let’s dive right in!

The Importance of Preparing for Vehicle Warmth

I understand we don’t hunker until spring just because winter comes around. There are places to go, people to see, and things to do. But winter weather can come in your face quickly, furious, and sometimes without warning.

A year never goes by without road closures due to expected and unexpected winter ice and snowstorms.

Even if you check the forecast before leaving the comfort of your home, you may find yourself in one of those unexpected weather calamities that will put you and your car in an unmovable snowdrift situation.

What are you going to do? Will you be prepared to keep yourself from a hypothermia risk, or will you be prepared and know how to stay warm in a car till help arrives?

Or can you get yourself back to moving again?

Before we get into the supply list, let’s talk about using your cold car’s own heater. Nothing wrong with that if you pace yourself. You do not want to run out of gas, but one important step must be considered.

Your car’s exhaust. If you are stuck in the snow, make sure the tailpipe is clear of snow—no snow or obstructing it. If unclear, you may find yourself with carbon monoxide poisoning before hypothermia.

Essential Items for Car Heat Retention

Blankets / Thermal Blankets  Emergency thermal blankets are a good idea. These inexpensive blankets help you retain body heat and are windproof and waterproof. They also take up a fraction of the space the everyday blanket does.

Additional Clothing, such as gloves and dry socks in case your clothes get wet—an extra jacket and sweater so you may ‘layer up’ to stay warm.

Candles When you can’t run your car for long stretches, the darkness can be a pain and a bit depressing on cold winter nights. Candles are just as useful when stranded in your vehicle as during a blackout at home. Safety varieties are available so you don’t burn yourself out of your little shelter.

Emergency Road Kit: Let others know where you are would be a good idea. Just to be found or avoid someone crashing into your car. You can make your own or buy a pre-assembled emergency kit that contains booster cables, road flares, a flashlight, first aid supplies, electrical tape, and a tool or two.

Bottles of Water and Snacks Fuel for yourself will make you a little more comfortable.

Preventive Measures to Evade a Freezing Vehicle Condition

Common sense is the first thing to consider before figuring out how to stay warm in a car after you drive it into a snowbank.

First things first. Do you have to make this trip now? Although we can’t always know when brutal weather may strike, there are some common-sense steps you can take before you get into your car.

You should definitely check weather reports before you leave. It is winter, after all. Don’t attempt to go out if bad weather is coming, but if you must go, tell all involved about your plans, such as route, destination, and expected arrival time.

Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and you have a cable to plug into your car receptacle so you may keep it charged.

Ensure you have a full gas tank and some emergency supplies we discussed stored in your car.

Surviving a Snow-Immobilized Vehicle

It might happen. It happens to many every year. But you are prepared. Right?

First things first.

Stay calm. It’s not the end of the world. Your first step is to assess your situation calmly. If you’ve been in a collision or drove off the road, assess yourself and your passengers first.

If you are OK, get on the phone and try to contact the highway patrol or a tow truck operator via an auto club which I hope you are enrolled in.

You might be here a while. You are not the only one stuck.

Stay inside because it is going to be the safest place. So many people are injured or even killed when they venture outside their car to assess the situation because they are hit by another moving vehicle.

But if you feel you can safely get out, do so via the passenger side, and set up some warning devices, such as flares, to warn drivers that you are there and need assistance.

Aren’t you glad you stored an emergency kit in your car?

Check that tailpipe, as I mentioned before. You don’t want carbon monoxide poisoning now. Run your car intermittingly so you save gas. You should be bundled up (in layers) now so you will not have to run your car for heat every minute you are stuck here.

how to stay warm in a car overnight

You do not want to run out of gas now.

Body heat will go a long way now. If you have company in your cold car, try to huddle up together. Keep moving in your confined area by moving and shaking out those arms and legs to keep circulation going to create more body heat.

Supplemental Survival Gear for Emergency Preparedness

I always feel you can never have too much when it comes to emergency supplies in the car, regardless of the time of year.

They will not take up much space if packaged properly and will not only help you stay warm in a car during the cold weather. They may even save your life at any time during the year.

Emergency road flares should be in your emergency or bug-out bag. One of the biggest concerns when your car breaks down is being visible to other cars passing the road.

Especially during winter storms. They can greatly reduce other drivers’ ability to see you. If your vehicle is in a dangerous location out of sight, you will want rescuers to see you. Keeping flares and reflectors in your trunk will help in both situations.

Ice scraper and brush You can’t leave without seeing out your window, and that brush may come in handy to clear that tailpipe of snow after you drive into that snowbank.

If stuck in the snow, sand will help you get traction under your wheels. Kitty litter will also help, and it is much lighter than a 50-pound bag of sand. Traction mats are available, but I found they mostly just get launched into the air when trying to use them. Just saying.

A Shovel in the wintertime. Who knew? Seriously a shovel would be a great tool to have in your car during winter travel, but they are clumsy when it comes time to find space in your trunk for one, and most people will not bother. Collapsible ones are available, but consider the clumsy ones if you go on one of those must trip during the winter.

A first-aid kit should always be in your car regardless of the season. You never know when you will need a band-aid or some hygiene item. Make sure it’s a good one. They fit quite easily under the seat.

A  flashlight is another all-season must-have. Getting a flat tire in the dark is much easier than getting stuck in the snow during the day. Cell phone flashlights come in handy but are clumsy, and you’ll want to conserve your phone charge as much as possible.

A rope or tow strap could be useful when stuck in that snowbank. Someone might be able to help out pull your car out of that situation. Or maybe you could be that good Samaritan.

You should consider a pocket jumper as an all-season item in your car. They can get your car out of a dead battery situation after you come out of the mall and find your car will not start to do to a dead battery.

Tools When I was younger, I always had tools in my car. Mostly, they are not of much use in today’s over-engineered cars. You need a college degree to look at today’s engines.

But having one of those all-in-one multitools could come in handy to break a windshield and cut a seatbelt if needed to get out of the car.

Paper maps should be part of your survival gear. Call me old-fashioned. But I do not always trust those GPS things on the phone or a dedicated one to always work. A good old-fashioned paper map would be invaluable if you are lost or need to go around a situation.

Cash is always a good idea to be included in a survival kit. Though I am not suggesting you use it to start a fire to keep warm in your car, no one will ever turn down cash when you need something in a crisis situation.

Don’t Let The Cold Steal Your Comfort (Or Your Life)

Nobody likes a teeth-chattering journey.

Remember, with simple planning, you can transform your frosty ride into a cozy refuge.

Pack those thermal blankets, extra clothes, and candles in your trunk.

Trust us, your future self will thank you when you’re stuck in a snowstorm, and your car’s heater decides to play truant. You’ve got this!

It’s about reclaiming your warmth and comfort and potentially saving your life. Now, it’s your turn to take action. Get that winter car survival kit ready, and let’s put Jack Frost in his place!


  1. What essentials should a winter car survival kit include?

Answer: Some crucial items for a winter car survival kit are thermal blankets, extra clothing layers, candles, gloves, an emergency road kit, and high-energy snacks and water.

  1. How can candles help when stuck in a car during a snowstorm?

Answer: Candles can serve as a heat source and provide light overnight stranded. Safety candles designed for car use are recommended to prevent accidental fires.

  1. Why is it important to check my car’s exhaust when stuck in the snow?

Answer: Checking your car’s exhaust prevents carbon monoxide poisoning. If your tailpipe is blocked by snow and you run the engine, dangerous gases could build up inside the car.

  1. How can I stay warm in my car without running the heater constantly?

Answer: Layering up with extra clothing, using thermal blankets, and moving your arms and legs to keep circulation going can help maintain body heat. Running the engine intermittently can also provide warmth.

5 . What should I do if I’m stuck in a snowstorm in my car?

Answer: Stay calm and stay inside your vehicle. It’s safest there. Try to signal for help with flares or other emergency signals, and keep your tailpipe clear of snow. You can run the engine intermittently for heat while bundled up in layers.

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