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Discussion Starter #1
Under what conditions are engine block heaters recommended to be 1) Installed, and; 2) Used?

Is there any downside to having one installed?

The temp in the Chicago area can get down to the range of -15F to -25F.



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'02 RP EX-L (on order)
'85 Prelude (that we'll keep forever!)

[This message has been edited by Maugham (edited 08-31-2001).]
 

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There is no downside to having one installed. Most CDN cars come with them standard now. Personally I have never used one (despite sever winters) and have never had a problem with a car not starting.
It would be nice to know it is there if the weatherman is calling for 4 days of really sever cold.
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by PD55:
There is no downside to having one installed. Most CDN cars come with them standard now. Personally I have never used one (despite sever winters) and have never had a problem with a car not starting.
It would be nice to know it is there if the weatherman is calling for 4 days of really sever cold.
</font>
Being the expert on this subject that I happen to be, having lived my entire life in Texas, here's my opinion! :p

I agree with PD55 in that I can't see any down side to having an engine heater. With today's fuel injected cars, I can see where starting the engine isn't the problem that it used to be with carburators provided the battery's in good condition.

Where I think it would be an advantage to use an engine heater is to keep the oil up to a more reasonable temp on those sub 0 nights. It seems to me that this would help engine lubrication during those "really" cold starts. Having said that, considering the newer multi viscocity oils available today, this might not be as big an issue as it used to be. If it were my car, however, I wouldn't mind that added insurance in such extreme conditions.

JMHO, FWIW,



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Steve R.
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Cargo tray, leather steering wheel, mud guards, alarm, fog lights, in-dash CD player, Kelton subwoofer, under seat storage tray.
 

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Living on the Canadian Prairies allows me to answer this from experience.

There is no real down side to having an engine block heater (although they can occasionally start to leak once a car gets older and must then be repaired).

My rule-of-thumb is to plug in my vehicle if it will be sitting in minus 20 C (approx. equal to minus 20 F) for 4 hours or longer. As I have a garage I never plug in at home but do occasionally plug in at work on those really frigid days.

The heater keeps the oil and block "warm" allowing for easier cranking and better lubrication. Not only is it better for your vehicle wear-and-tear wise but sometimes it gets so cold here our vehicles can actually "freeze up" if not plugged in (solution then is often a tow job to a nice warm garage or repair shop). This starts happening around minus 35 to 40 C which is when most of us start adding gas line antifreeze to make sure the gas lines don't freeze and leave us stranded.

Fortunately a typical winter only has 3 or 4 weeks that are this bad! FYI: We hit minus 50 C (with windchill factor) for a few days last year - burrrr.

I understand Chicago is milder so I think you could get away without having one. (You can always have them install it later if you change your mind).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your thoughts.

Here's a couple of links on the web about when to use an engine block heater:

<a href ="http://cartalk.cars.com/Columns/Archive/1994/November/18.html">Cartalk/Tom and Ray</a>

<a href="http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/winter/car_tips_e.htm">"Fuel Efficient Winter Driving"</a>

I'm thinking of getting one installed even though I'd use it only a few times each Winter.

I'm reading that a timer is a good idea so you don't have the heater working all night, just a few hours before startup.

When it gets down to -20F (-29C)
there is a marked difference in the way my cars start. The engines just don't sound right.

I was concerned about leaks but I guess freeze plugs can leak, too.

Regards,

Maugham

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'02 RP EX-L (on order)
'85 Prelude (that we'll keep forever!)
 

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Maugham,

I grew up in the Chicago area and now live in the Twin Cities. I've got an engine block heater in a box waiting for me to install it in my '01 EX. Here's why:

- There is essentially no down side to having one. In particular, with Honda's design, i.e., it threads into the block, vs. either expansion plugs or in-line heaters, there's virtually no probablility that it'll leak, unless the heater leaks itself which is highly unlikely.

- While it may not be necessary to start the engine in "reasonable sub-zero F" (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) temperatures, it certainly can't hurt.

- Since it actually heats the coolant, not the oil, it allows the heater to produce useful heat sooner.

If you are subject to sub-zero temperatures, I strongly recommend synthetic/semi-synthetic oil. It alone allows the starter to spin the engine much better than pure dino.

My car sits outside. When I decide to connect the heater, I use a heavy duty timer set to turn on a couple of hours before I expect to leave the next morning. I may also run it for a couple of hours inbetween, although the benefits of this are certainly arguable.

You can purchase Honda's heater for about $35 over the net. Installation appears to be simple, but maybe messy. You should probably have some extra Honda coolant on hand before you start; you'll almost certainly lose some coolant in the process. The $35 seems to me to be an acceptable insurance premium to avoid just one instance of NOT being able to start the engine when you need it. The comfort of having the heater work sooner is an added bonus.

Mel
 
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