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Here's What to Do If You Don't Have a Block Heater

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By: Brian Turner – driving.ca

With winter officially here, now is a good time to consider your options for an electric engine heater — more commonly known as a block heater.This one feature is responsible for more than its share of water cooler debates: You either “don’t need one for a good engine,” or you swear by block heaters. The anti-block heater camp can even lean to ridiculous arguments,professing you’ll spoil your vehicle to the point where it’ll never start unless it’s plugged in. Yes, believe it or not, we’ve heard this one more than once.

If you park your ride outside — or in an unheated and unattached garage — and the overnight temps dip to below -20 degrees Celsius, using some type of engine heater is a wise idea if you want to be able to start up your car in the morning. Even as little as one hour of plug-in time will ensure easy starts, almost instant heat from the HVAC system and improved fuel economy. And no, you won’t ‘spoil’ your vehicle.

But what if you don’t have a block heater, or your vehicle’s engine won’t accept one? Well,you have options. Most block heaters are small, household-current submersible elements that are pressed into a hole in the engine block. They take the place of a thin metal frost plug, designed to pop out and relieve the pressure caused by coolant freezing.

Interestingly,these plugs seldom work and if an engine’s coolant is weak enough to freeze solid, they won’t prevent the block from cracking. While block heater kits can come at reasonable prices, averaging less than $100, installation is another thing. Usually, only one of the many frost plug holes in the block of an engine will have the room to accept the heater element; Murphy’s Law dictates if something can go wrong, it will go wrong — and in this case, something in the way might have to be removed, like a starter or manifold.

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Source: https://driving.ca/gmc/auto-news/news/your-corner-wrench-dont-have-a-block-heater-heres-what-you-can-do

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