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Ghosty
12-21-2008, 08:08 PM
It's now 15 degrees in beautiful Marthasville, MO. Cold. But not as cold as other places, I know.

This has gotten me thinking about a habit we people in the Midwest do that we probably shouldn't -- and that's idle the car during the winter. Fuel condenses on the cylinder walls for an extended period of time, contributing to wear. Fuel can also contaminate oil. Plugs get dirty. Water vapor collects in the exhaust and contributes to rust. And there's the whole matter of wasted fuel and greenhouse gasses.

Most car-minded people probably would care less about the temperature of the car's interior. I've always idled the engine to make sure oil reaches its operational temperature, and that the engine is lubricated, because I was worried that taking off even at 2500rpms in the cold would be worse wear than idle. But since reading about idling, I'm convinced not to do it anymore. Bottom line is a car was meant to be warmed up through driving, not idling.

Doing some research, I've found that people just to the north have figured out a wonderful device called a block heater. Pretty cheap, at $20 to $100 dollars, and the piece of mind has to be really good.

Anybody have experience with these, or are thinking about getting one? How difficult are they to install? Do you notice any difference on start up?

schmooot
12-21-2008, 08:17 PM
we use them so that our car actually starts when it is -30 to -40 degrees....like it is right now. It is just a heating coil that goes in one of the frost plug holes. We also use little magnetic oil pan heaters as well as battery warmers. When it gets that cold you need all the help you can get. And even though the engine starts easy because it is prewarmed I still idle the car until it starts to get warm inside because everything...and I mean everything is so brittle and cold that simply bending any plastic part too much will snap it off. This includes but is not limited to seat belt clips, door handles, any lever handle or knob or switch, sunvisor, rearview mirrors, etc. and don't forget the seat is rock solid...you don;t actually sink in you just sit until your ass heats the fabric enough to be pliable. And don't even think about turning the wheel or even letting the clutch out in neutral because the throw-out bearing is so cold that your idle will drop enough to kill the car sometimes....depending on how well it was lubed when it was installed.


As for your questions.....they are simple to install. Just drain your coolant, hammer one of your frost plugs in (the instructions will tell you which one) and then pull it out of the block with some pliers. The heater sticks in teh hole and you tighten the screw. Then refill the coolant and you are done. Rather than leave it plugged in all night it is easier on your hydro bill to set it on a timer because it only needs a good hour or so to heat the coolant. And yes the car turns and starts just like it was a summer day because the coolant is already at about half operating temp.

ciento44
12-21-2008, 08:21 PM
I've been letting my cars idle forever....

And the last coupe i sold with 218k miles on it. I'm not REAL worried about it. But a block heater would be nice.

Ghosty
12-21-2008, 08:32 PM
we use them so that our car actually starts when it is -30 to -40 degrees....like it is right now. It is just a heating coil that goes in one of the frost plug holes. We also use little magnetic oil pan heaters as well as battery warmers. When it gets that cold you need all the help you can get. And even though the engine starts easy because it is prewarmed I still idle the car until it starts to get warm inside because everything...and I mean everything is so brittle and cold that simply bending any plastic part too much will snap it off. This includes but is not limited to seat belt clips, door handles, any lever handle or knob or switch, sunvisor, rearview mirrors, etc. and don't forget the seat is rock solid...you don;t actually sink in you just sit until your ass heats the fabric enough to be pliable. And don't even think about turning the wheel or even letting the clutch out in neutral because the throw-out bearing is so cold that your idle will drop enough to kill the car sometimes....depending on how well it was lubed when it was installed.

That sounds like a hellish situation! How often do you go through cars in BC? It must be hard on them.



As for your questions.....they are simple to install. Just drain your coolant, hammer one of your frost plugs in (the instructions will tell you which one) and then pull it out of the block with some pliers. The heater sticks in teh hole and you tighten the screw. Then refill the coolant and you are done. Rather than leave it plugged in all night it is easier on your hydro bill to set it on a timer because it only needs a good hour or so to heat the coolant. And yes the car turns and starts just like it was a summer day because the coolant is already at about half operating temp.

Sounds easy but I wonder if one of those magnetic pads wouldn't be better

ciento44
12-21-2008, 08:34 PM
My last car spent all of it's winters but two in the St. Lawrence River Valley... commonly sees -30 + windchill.

Let it idle. Yeah... it's bad in theory... but on our awesomely built toyota motors. Who cares.

Kastigir
12-21-2008, 09:11 PM
Modern cars are meant to be started and driven. No idling required, and in fact it's discouraged. I would say a block heater is unnecessary unless you typically hover around zero for several days at a time. Our 4 cylinder engines do not take long to heat up once you start driving.

hobbie2k
12-22-2008, 03:22 PM
I do tend to idle my car a fair bit, but only when I'm leaving work at 10pm when it's -5+ out (which has been most days this month it seems) and I don't want to freeze my ass off the whole way home. Plus, sometimes it'll get so cold that the gear oil won't let me shift. If it's still above 0 I won't usually bother, though.

My Cobalt even has a block heater which I totally forgot about until yesterday when I was looking through the manual to see what my next service will require. I had a heated garage last winter so I never needed it, but now I think I'll have to go buy an extension cord so I can use it...

They do help somewhat, but most aren't recommended to be used above 15-20 degrees. The one in my Cobalt automatically shuts off when outside temps reach 18. If 15 is as cold as it gets there, I wouldn't even bother with a heater or a warm-up idle. I'd just get in and drive (I would just be careful till it warms up).

schmooot
12-22-2008, 08:26 PM
That sounds like a hellish situation! How often do you go through cars in BC? It must be hard on them.



Sounds easy but I wonder if one of those magnetic pads wouldn't be better

Nope my cars last just fine and I drive them all winter. My celi has over 400,000kms, the tercel has 340,000 and most everything else has over 2 at least.

The only problem with the magnetic pads is they fall off. SO pretty much you stick them on when you get home and plug it in overnight then remove it before you leave or else you will lose it. They also have pads that you silicone onto the bottom of your oil pan which is much better than the magnetic ones. The problem with these is they only heat the oil sitting in the bottom of the pan, so yes it is a little easier starting but the block heater is sitting in the coolant and is much hotter as well which supplies the heat to your car.....I prefer the block heater over the oil pan heater anyday. Just personal experience. Most people buy the oil pan ones because they are cheaper and any idiot can install them.

Ads28
12-23-2008, 12:07 AM
Block heaters are defeintly worth it...my celi is the only vehicle in my household without one...as my car came from BC and never really saw a winter and wont again...They are somewhat easy to install as stated above...with temps here constantly below -25 its pretty much a must have on cars,...Start ups are ALOT easier, vehicles warm up way faster...just be sure to remember to unplug it haha...ive seen a couple cars around town dragging cords already hahaha

Blackcloud
12-23-2008, 01:07 AM
best damn invention ever.. i keep the truck always plugged in when its cold.

get in and instant heat.

Kastigir
12-23-2008, 02:16 AM
best damn invention ever.. i keep the truck always plugged in when its cold.

get in and instant heat.
Kind of necessary for a diesel.

Blackcloud
12-23-2008, 02:26 AM
werd. shes a cold blooded sob.

and my dmax sounds like a ford when it cold starts :(

schmooot
12-23-2008, 04:34 AM
just be sure to remember to unplug it haha...ive seen a couple cars around town dragging cords already hahaha
I think we've all bin there done that. I've seen people dragging 100' cords down the highway before.....its great

Galcobar
12-23-2008, 05:58 AM
Just as a note, saying B.C. covers a lot of territory -- actually, it would cover a lot of Europe (we have multiple parks which are bigger than some European countries, or American states).

I'm on the south coast, and right now we're suffering through what we consider a ridiculous amount of snow -- it's accummulated to about 40 cm (16 inches) around my place, and it's painfully cold, down to -7C at night.

And yes, I know...

usp45
12-25-2008, 06:11 AM
block heaters are very nice. I don't have one, so I just idle til the coolant guages rises from the off posistion to the C (not op temp) on cold days. seems like a good compromise. I understand that modern modular designs are not designed to reach operating temp by idle during normal operation. Starting and driving a frozen engine puts lots of stress on componets via rapid thermal expansion. Freeze a glass bottle and dump hot water in it immediatly after. most likely, it will shatter. You can remedy this by introducing heat slowly. Plus if your not using synthetic oil, it's good to ensure the oil is warm enough to flow freely. alot of climates aren't cold enough for this to become an issue though.
All in all if its cold enough that you need to idle your car warm to avoid damage, then it's time for a block heater.

glenn
12-25-2008, 07:56 AM
block heaters are very nice. I don't have one, so I just idle til the coolant guages rises from the off posistion to the C (not op temp) on cold days. seems like a good compromise. I understand that modern modular designs are not designed to reach operating temp by idle during normal operation. Starting and driving a frozen engine puts lots of stress on componets via rapid thermal expansion. Freeze a glass bottle and dump hot water in it immediatly after. most likely, it will shatter. You can remedy this by introducing heat slowly. Plus if your not using synthetic oil, it's good to ensure the oil is warm enough to flow freely. alot of climates aren't cold enough for this to become an issue though.
All in all if its cold enough that you need to idle your car warm to avoid damage, then it's time for a block heater.

thats so damn true so i dont understand how these people say we can just get in and drive my car drives shity when its cold if i let it warm up in the morning it runs great and i dont get passed by the geo metro when i get on the highway which is only a block away so there is no warm up time till i have to mash the gas to keep up with traffic