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apridge
10-06-2011, 02:04 PM
I woke up this morning with about an inch of snow on my car and it got me thinking..

Winter is coming and I am dealing with the issue of too many cars, and not enough garage space. I have heard and read very little about engine block heaters. From what I understand, it is a heating unit that plugs in and warms the block (and oil) while the car is sitting in freezing temperatures. The benefit seems fairly obvious. Warm (thinner) oil would cause less stress on the engine as it circulates after sitting through a long cold night. Rumor also has it that that it increases the rate in which your car reaches operating temperature- that i'm still curious about because the temperature gage is related to coolant, not oil...

Anyway, I'm hoping to draw out of the mafia's pool of knowledge here with a few questions...

Does the use of synthetic oil solve the problem making a block heater obsolete?

Because Utah winter only occasionally reaches down into the negatives does that make such an accessory profitless?

Besides an increase in my electricity bill, is anyone familiar with negative side effects? Can they cause harm?

Any further knowledge or experience would be helpful!


Thanks in advance.

quikryptonite
10-06-2011, 02:23 PM
You got an inch of snow? Gross. We'll have to wait for the weather to clear up to take the ZHP's out for a spin.

danewilson77
10-06-2011, 02:38 PM
I used to run a block heater, battery charger and light a pie pan of "Heat" on fire and slide under my engine block, when I lived in Butte and worked in the mines.

I don't think a block heater can harm the oil.

I think a great resource maybe to do some searching over at www.bobistheoilguy.com

danewilson77
10-06-2011, 02:41 PM
Quick read saying a 0W oil should have no issues. Have you had cold start issues with this car before?

Last post does pose an interesting problem perhaps?

http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2364409&page=1

ranger
10-06-2011, 03:13 PM
I am so glad that I have no useful information to provide (southern boy!)

danewilson77
10-06-2011, 03:21 PM
Quick read saying a 0W oil should have no issues. Have you had cold start issues with this car before?

Last post does pose an interesting problem perhaps?

http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2364409&page=1

EDIT:Last post, FIRST PAGE....

HTC Thunderbolt+TT

apridge
10-07-2011, 08:03 AM
Have you had cold start issues with this car before?



The car is from a warmer climate, and this year will be its first really cold winter. Mechanically its in great shape, so I doubt it will have serious trouble starting in the cold. I'm just considering the long term effects on an engine due to continuous cold starts over time. If a block heater will ease that stress, and promote a stronger engine in the long run, thats what i'm interested in finding out.

Do we have any Canadian members? I know that block heaters are practically mandatory for their cars up there..

strz0001
10-07-2011, 08:32 AM
Minnesota member. I moved 4 hours drive south to this warmer climate many years ago ;) - it's frequently sub zero here Dec-Mar. I keep the cars in a non-heated garage and have not used a block heater. My recommendation is to have a good battery and a well tuned car and forget about the block heater. I'd also make sure your driving habits allow the engine to fully warm up to prevent condensation and keep a good charge on the battery by avoiding repeated short trips. Consider investing the effort in the CCV to be sure it is working properly as that seems to be more of a cold weather issue than a block heater.

zj96sc
10-07-2011, 08:56 AM
My F-250 has a built in block heater, cord hanging out the front of the truck. More critical with diesels with our 15W-40 oil and tight tolerances, especially given the tendency of diesel to gel below like 12F or whatever it is....and, you know, that whole no spark plugs thing.

The short and simple of it is, it will only be good for your car. 90% or whatever they say of wear occurs at startup and shutdown - if you can get parts closer to their happy operating temperature before that first start every time its very cold out, this will only prolong the life of your engine. It will help it warm up faster too - as you said, engine temp is coolant, but keep in mind coolant and oil jackets are adjacent all throughout your engine.

Using properly weighted oil would probably mitigate a large portion of the problem though.

The caveat here is I wouldn't want some ghetto installation. My truck's is OEM so it is obviously well done - if you're going to do it, do it right.

Also, never warm your car up by idling.

apridge
11-17-2011, 08:56 AM
Just a quick update:

In locating a heater (standard part in Canada dealerships) I gathered that the cold I'm dealing with here won't cause any substantial damage to the engine when starting cold. Also thanks to Dane for the references on some reading material. Our Castrol Synthetic Oil reduces the stress as well when cold starting the car. I toyed with the idea of putting a lighter weighted oil in for the winter months but my mechanic seemed confident that doing so was unnecessary.

The best solution? Put the ZHP away for the winter. haha

On that note, I just picked up a set of ZHP 135s to mount my snow tires!

M0nk3y
11-17-2011, 09:04 AM
Good Update. My E46 sat outside in winters 24/7 for all 9 years of ownership with my Dad and I. Never had any engine related problems and it was at 130k when it was sold

ryankokesh
11-17-2011, 10:20 AM
I've been hearing a lot lately about not warming up a car by idling it. Does that only apply to our cars? (apparently it's in the manual) And why is it bad? It doesn't seem a whole lot different than driving it would be?

M0nk3y
11-17-2011, 10:29 AM
I've been hearing a lot lately about not warming up a car by idling it. Does that only apply to our cars? (apparently it's in the manual) And why is it bad? It doesn't seem a whole lot different than driving it would be?

Yes, don't warm up to idle.

Reason is, is that you're only warming the engine...not suspension and transmission components.

So essentially, you think the car is to temp, when in reality the transmission and everything else is still cold. You can then brake things because you take the car to higher RPMs because you thought it was to temp. Makes sense?

apridge
11-17-2011, 11:23 AM
I've been hearing a lot lately about not warming up a car by idling it. Does that only apply to our cars?

I agree with M0nk3y. In addition, driving the car (conservatively, at low RPMs) in cold weather will heat up your engine faster than letting it idle. It will also promote oil circulation more efficiently, as well as prevents carbon build up, which over time will harm your engine. (Anyone replaced their oil splitters lately?)

On a green note, an idling car's emissions are much worse than when driving. Idling isn't good for you, your car, or the environment.

Whitexi
11-17-2011, 03:23 PM
At least if you let your car idle to warm up ( I usually do ) don't drive it hard for the first 10 minutes just as if you were starting and driving when cold. Ive been driving extremely conservative lately. Ive noticed it helps me be less angry if that makes sense even if im in a bad mood it gets me to relax lol.

ryankokesh
11-17-2011, 03:58 PM
Haha, I know what you mean about it making you relax! People tell me I drive like an "old person".

I like to let it idle sometimes to make it toasty inside, especially if I'm driving other people. Good to know to make sure and drive it carefully for a while afterward still!


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Rovert
11-19-2011, 09:40 AM
In the winter I just run 0w40 or 0w30 in the engine and I haven't felt any issues with the engine starting up. She just fires up no problem in sub arctic temperatures. I've come out to my car after not using it for a couple days and it's 0-10F outside. But I do make sure that I dress warm with jacket and gloves and scrape all the ice off the windows so I can start and drive it off the driveway right away. Even my sister's '01 A4 1.8T says to not idle warmup and they would also void your warranty by installing a block heater into the engine. She's been fine in Alberta where it's below 0F outside.

As what others have said, idling doesn't promote efficient oil circulation due to there being no compression pressure on the engine that happens when in motion. It uses up a lot of fuel which is very rich on a cold startup. That rich fuel can deposit onto the O2 sensors and cat which will prematurely cause them to fail due to gumming up. Now that's what a lot of experts have said and I'm not sure if the difference between that is a 10,000 mile difference in failure or a 100,000 mile difference in failure.

The amount of time wasted using fuel at idle to warm up vs driving to warm up is noticeable though. :D For example when it's freezing out, it'll take my car 10 minutes to get out of blue at idle. Driving "calmly" it will only take 1-2 minutes.