Author Topic: when to plug in block heater  (Read 30824 times)

Offline mollie

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when to plug in block heater
« on: November 08, 2005, 10:36:36 am »
When should I start plugging in my car at night?  The temperatures have been just below freezing at night.  and my car is parked on the driveway overnight.  Also how long should I let the car warm up before driving?  It has synthetic oil in the engine.  So far I have been letting the car run long enough to scrape the ice off the windows.

« Last Edit: November 08, 2005, 10:42:47 am by mollie »

Offline safristi

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2005, 10:39:02 am »
Just what Synthetic scrapes the ice off the windows...ARMS_OIL!!!????? :rofl2:
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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2005, 10:45:59 am »
-40

Offline mrthompson

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2005, 11:04:42 am »
I do not use synthetic oil my car or my wife's... :hide:  I usually plug the block heater in when the temperature dips to -20C and below.

Offline sirAQUAMAN64

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2005, 11:17:21 am »
I would go with -16 to -20 and below myself.

Then it's not just freezing, it's FREEZING! The fluids start to get thicker and such.

-30 and below the car's interior plastics and seats start to get brittle and hard/crusty and creaky, so you know it's freakin' cold.

Plug it in. It does an engine good.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2005, 11:19:19 am by sirAQUAMAN64 »
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Offline exserviceguy

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2005, 11:26:21 am »
Yup the gangs got it right with the -16 to -20 range.  Save yourself some hydro bills and get an outdoor timer for the block heater socket.  For most cars these units only need 2 hours or so unless all the brass monkeys on your street have headed south for the winter.  Just about all block heaters are rated at 1500 watts, so leaving one plugged in all night can add up over the long run.
To save on fuel, only let the vehicle idle in the morning untill the windshield and other glass areas are completely defrosted giving you a safe view of the road ahead and behind.
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Offline Minou

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2005, 12:25:37 pm »
Most engine block heaters are now rated at 400W, not 1500. 
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Offline random006

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2005, 03:52:16 pm »
Around -15 to -20 but that's without the wind chill.  Wind chill has no effect on the engine, although the wind itself can cause the engine to cool off faster than it would otherwise.  If you find you are using your car for mainly short trips which do not allow the car to run for more than 10 minutes, perhaps using at -10 might be a better choice.  Comments?

In terms of saving energy and money, I have a timer and set it to run from 6 am to about 8:30 or so.  It's all I need.  My car is in an unheated garage, separate from the house.

One thing is for sure, your engine will appreciate the use of the heater.  It starts faster and with far less stress and strain.
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Offline traingirl

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2005, 04:13:46 pm »
-15ºC and I plug the car in - parked outside, and on a 2 hr timer.  Of course, I drive an old beater and I coddle it somewhat - last year when the tempertures dropped I replaced a block heater, an alternator and a battery all within a week.  Beware if you drive an old car - its marginal components will start to die off in the cold.  For that reason, I had a rule last year that I didn't even start my car if it was -30ºC or colder in the a.m.  Took the bus alot.

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2005, 04:15:59 pm »
Haha, last year it was crazy, -40 for like 2 weeks or something.  I never plugged the car in and it started every morning but it didn't sound too happy about it.  Also the speedo refused to work on cold days.

Offline ovr50

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2005, 04:19:39 pm »
Hell, I refuse to work when it's -40 degress. Serves you right for living there.  ;D ;D
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Offline traingirl

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2005, 04:45:39 pm »
Ahhh, wouldn't that be the life, no working if it was -40ºC..... now there's an incentive to bring people to Saskatchewan.

Heck, not only do I go to the office - sometime's we're even lucky enough to be doing field work.  Whoo hoo, sledding!!

Offline mollie

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2005, 05:33:28 pm »
Thanks!  I gave up looking for the cord and called Toyota who said to drop by and they'd take a look.  Apparently the car didn't have a block heater  ???.  That was the bad news, the good news is one of the mechanics was waiting for a part to be delivered so he put the block heater in for $130 and it only took 15 minutes!  That is as efficient as I can be for today. The timer will have to wait until Thursday.

Offline Trainman

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2005, 07:08:24 pm »
Thanks!  I gave up looking for the cord and called Toyota who said to drop by and they'd take a look.  Apparently the car didn't have a block heater  ???.  That was the bad news, the good news is one of the mechanics was waiting for a part to be delivered so he put the block heater in for $130 and it only took 15 minutes!  That is as efficient as I can be for today. The timer will have to wait until Thursday.

On Toyota's and Honda's block heaters are optional, even those sold in Canada  ??? .  The Kamloops Toyota dealer puts them in unless you request they do not.
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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2005, 12:57:33 am »
I'll plug my car in (new or old) when I drive it to work at my threshold of -15C or so.  Anything warmer than that and it's of little use.  I don't plug it in at home as both cars sit in the garage.  The garage is not heated but is very well insulated.  Even when it's -30C outside, it's -12C or -15C inside the garage.  Not too bad. 

I personally don't like cars idling for 8 hours.  It's not a big advantage to have the car sit and wait for it to warm up.  Engines will warm up quicker when you drive it.  But it is important to ensure that all windows are clear so you aren't driving through a 8" hole in the ice.  If it's really cold, I'll give the car 2 or 3 minutes max. 

If parked outside, maybe cover the front windshield with a towel or something to prevent frost building up on it overnight.  That helps in the window clearing department. 

When it's friggin' cold outside, I try to not go into the office......but I often don't get to dictate my schedule.

Offline maritime_storm

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2005, 01:36:42 pm »
What's worse is that I had a lady call up to find out how it would cost to install a remote starter in her new Civic Hybrid. We don't install car starters period, but that voice in the back of my head was screaming"What kind of an idiot would go out & spend that much money on a super fuel efficient, enviormentally friendly vehicle only to turn around and install a car stater to pollute the environment & waste gas?"
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Offline AVToller

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2005, 03:50:59 pm »
"What kind of an idiot would go out & spend that much money on a super fuel efficient, enviormentally friendly vehicle only to turn around and install a car stater to pollute the environment & waste gas?"

Amazing isn't it! She probably doesn't want her latte to get cold while she talks on her cell phone during the first 5 minutes of her drive.  ::) ::) :P
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Offline initial_D

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2005, 02:22:31 am »
Grew up and went to school in SaskatBush, know the winter and its’ coldness way too well. Plugging in block heater is fine and dandy, but that could only be done at home at times. It was difficult to find parking at U_of_S, a parking spot with a plug in? Forget about it. During those final two weeks cramming for exams, I often went to a classroom on campus to study. No buses would run that late, and couldn’t really drive because at -40C, even without Wind-chill, the car freezes up pretty quick. So the only solution is to bundle up and walk. A 25 minute walk at 3:00 AM in -40C didn’t seem that bad back then.

First job I had as a Geek was to service gov’t IT equipment. There would be traveling all over the province, snow, blizzards and all. From Regina, sail passing thru Hudson Bay, made stops in P.A., on my way to L.A. Some very scary and memorial moments with the ever so faithful 318i, humming to Leppards’ “Sugar me”, trying NOT to look around, just focus on the highway. Now I can live_and_tell about it.  :D ;D

One thing we had to do was to start the car every 3-4 hours and let it run 20 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t freeze up. It was a hassle. Then I discovered this funny looking thing in a shop, a mechanic connected it to a dead car, and the car was able to start. I thought it was frigid magic. The good mechanic told me that I can pick up this “miracle box” at Crappy Tire for $80. Wow, on the way I go. Now I can carry it into the building where I worked, plug it in. Bring it out, if the car does start, plug it in. whoola, my car starts, just like magic. BEST $80 I ever spend on a car accessory. ;)
« Last Edit: November 10, 2005, 02:37:05 am by initial_D »

Offline initial_D

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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2005, 02:23:20 am »
I never drive a car without it.  With old cars, this really came in handy. When my 325ix had problems with the alternator, it was there to help me out. When the Sears battery died in the 318i, it was there again to get me on my way. Die Hard batteries my a$$, only lasted 3 years, and get a pro-rated warranty and discount on a new one tho.

I used the Booster Pack to help a number of people stranded on the side of the road quiet a few times, just helped a guy in a Chrysler 300C in Calgary last weekend. The car stopped in the middle on the road on a very busy street, just had to drive pass him, back up, pop open the trunk, take it out, hook on the two terminal, start car, unhook, put back in trunk, all less than 5 minutes. Why such a long story, I strongly recommend people to get one, especially the ones came with a compressor and light, AC outlet. You could never know when you would need it, but growing in SaskatBush, it is one’s duty to help others when they need it.

Another thing I recommend is a simple charger, I use it condition the battery once a month, works very handy in winter. Every little thing in those cold days helps.


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Re: when to plug in block heater
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2005, 12:01:43 pm »
A few years ago I was in winterpeg over the holidays.  It was -40 almost everyday I was there, it was insane.

I was driving an old tercel with 400,000+ klicks on her.

It was just a frozen mess, fluids were so thick you could barely shift the thing.  But man that thing would start everytime, plugged in or not, truely a miracle, my brother's Cavalier would not start and it was about 10 years newer and in the garage AND plugged in :P