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Old 01-18-2013, 09:39 AM   #1
CDNFocusFan
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Block Heater Question

Hi All,

I recently moved up into Northern Ontario. How can you tell if your block heater is working? I plug my car in every night when it's below -15 C. Recently there's been an extreme cold snap and it seems like even plugged in the car is struggling to start. The battery is cranking but the engine seems like it takes forever to finally get going. It does however heat up within 10 minutes or so. Yesterday in -33 I gave up on trying to start it and hitched a ride to work for fear of killing the battery.

I know the block heater won't keep the coolant hot, or even warm, just wondering if anyone else in this type of climate has experience to share. Is my block heater working just for the simple fact that it even starts in this frozen hell?




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Old 01-18-2013, 09:43 AM   #2
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I should add that my experience in this weather is that the DCT shifts weirdly and it feels like being in a car with someone who's learning how to drive stick. In the summer and fall I had no DCT issues other than some weird noises during the break in period. In this weather though the DCT is struggling.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:55 AM   #3
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The block heater wont heat the coolant up much at all, I was under the same impression that it wasn't working on our last cold snap (I'm in NB). But if your curious just open the hood and at the back side of the motor is where it goes in, you should be able to put your hand on it and feel that it is warm to the touch.

The aluminum block in these cars don't hold heat at all. I have found that they have a hard time keeping warm just idling with the heater on when it starts to get below -15c
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:52 PM   #4
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It sounds like your block heater may not be working. My car never cranks that long when plugged in, and it started up right away in -19 weather (sorry baby). It does take 5 to 10 minutes for the coolant to heat up.
If you pop your engine cover off you could see/feel if it is still plugged into the block.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:43 PM   #5
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Your engine should be warm to touch when its plugged in and you can hear a slight 'hiss' similar to an electric tea kettle when its plugged in. Also check to make sure that where you are plugging in, actually has power..lots of times an outside plug has a tripped breaker.One more thing in northern climates...switch to a full synthetic oil and use a 0-30 or something similar. It works miracles
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vernl View Post
Your engine should be warm to touch when its plugged in and you can hear a slight 'hiss' similar to an electric tea kettle when its plugged in. Also check to make sure that where you are plugging in, actually has power..lots of times an outside plug has a tripped breaker.One more thing in northern climates...switch to a full synthetic oil and use a 0-30 or something similar. It works miracles
Thanks for all the replies! I know the outside plug has power since my extension cord has a light in it. I also brought a little light out and tried it on that plug and it works. I'll check the back of the engine in the morning to make sure it's warm.

I just had my last oil change done at the dealership here in town and I'm assuming they used Motorcraft 5w20 but nothing was indicated on the bill. If this cold snap keeps up I'm going to try switching to full-syn.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giles007 View Post
It sounds like your block heater may not be working. My car never cranks that long when plugged in, and it started up right away in -19 weather (sorry baby). It does take 5 to 10 minutes for the coolant to heat up.
If you pop your engine cover off you could see/feel if it is still plugged into the block.
Really eh? This morning mine cranked for 15-17 seconds and was really not enjoying the cold. There's a loud whistling when it first starts which I think are the active grill shutters. Sounds like a referee's whistle, also 2 high pitched squeaks.

I hate this $*#*%( weather.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:21 PM   #8
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Oh boy, that does not sound pleasant. Full disclosure: I have an ST with a 2.0L but I can't see that making that much of a difference.
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Old 01-20-2013, 02:12 PM   #9
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How long are you having your car plugged in? It takes about 3 hours for the block heater to get the motor to its hottest point. And it definitely should be reading more towards the middle of your temp gauge. My block heater worked great for 3 months, then quit. Dealer installed a new one and it's been fine ever since. Sounds like you have a bad heater.

Also with those temperatures I would be running a full synthetic oil, 0W20.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:29 PM   #10
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Montreal here... and we're heading for a ice cold week here... I noticed recently (on very cold mornings), the car struggles in starting even if I leave it plugged it overnight. At first, I assumed it was because I was using a timer and only giving it about 2hrs of warming up before using, so now...even with an overnight charge, it struggles in starting and temp gauge takes quite a while before moving up.

I will pop the hood to see if I feel anything warm... otherwise, off to the dealer.

This is my first car without a starter in over 10yrs and I regret not having one in these friggin cold winter days!
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