How to Install an Engine Block Heater: Top 4 Questions Answered

Jack up the front of the vehicle and secure with jack stands. ... Open the hood. If your vehicle has a block heater port, locate an open port in the engine block. ... While wearing gloves, coat the heating element with the thermal grease. Slide the heating element into the block until it clicks and fits tight. More items... •

Living in colder winter zones can be challenging, especially when the temperature drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius. If you own a car or use someone else’s, having it start reliably in the winter is important. One way to ensure your car starts when it’s really cold out is to use a block heater. In this article, we’ll answer the top four questions people ask about block heaters.

So, what are block heaters and how do they work? A block heater has two components: a heating element that is installed in a port of the engine block and a block heater cord. The heating element heats the coolant in the engine, and the cord supplies the power. One end of the cord plugs into the heating element, and the other end plugs into an electrical outlet.

The most obvious reason for using a block heater is to have your car start reliably when the temperature drops too low. Cold starts cause the most wear and tear on the engine and starting system. When it’s -15 degrees Celsius or lower, the oil becomes more viscous, and the battery supplies less current. When you combine these two factors, your vehicle will have a harder time starting. One way to prevent wear and tear on your engine and starting system is to use a block heater.

Another good reason to use a block heater is to prevent wear and tear on your engine and starting system. Cold starts cause the most wear and tear on these systems. When you have -15 degrees Celsius or lower temperatures, the oil will be more viscous, and therefore the oil pump will have a harder time supplying enough oil to lubricate all the internal components of the engine. Plus, the metal parts within the engine are not at their ideal tolerances for operation when cold. Although using synthetic oils will help, the metal still needs time to heat up, and this is where the block heater can help.

If you use a block heater a few hours before you need the car, your engine block will be warm by the time you need it, and you will get heat sooner from the heating system. You only need to use it between 1 to 4 hours before you need your car. The length of time would depend on the temperature outside. Ideally, you can just use a timer so that it turns itself on in the morning at a pre-set time.

Now that you know why you might want to use a block heater, you might wonder whether to get one installed at the dealership when you buy a new or used car. Well, most cars sold in colder climates already come with a block heater pre-installed at the factory. However, dealership salesmen still try to get you to pay several hundred dollars to get it installed by their service department. The best way to find out if your car has a block heater is to call the dealership’s parts department.

Finally, how do you know if your block heater is working? The best way to do this is to buy a block heater tester or energy meter. Alternatively, you can plug in the block heater, then wait and listen. You will start to hear a sound similar to what an electric kettle makes. It sounds like liquid starting to boil and sometimes some pinging as the metal in the engine block starts to expand.

In conclusion, using a block heater is an excellent way to ensure your car starts reliably in cold weather. You can even install one yourself for a fraction of the cost that dealerships charge. So, instead of paying hundreds of dollars to get one installed, take the time to learn more about block heaters and get one installed on your own.


How much does it cost to install a block heater?
How much does a block heater cost? Most vehicles can have a block heater installed at any point in their life, and the heater itself will run $80 - $150 for most mainstream models, with installation usually taking an hour or so at your local shop's rate.
Where do you put an engine block heater?
The engine block heater plug is located in a housing in the left fog lamp bezel. Open the hinged, circular door and make sure the receptacle terminals are clean and dry prior to use. Clean them with a dry cloth if necessary. The heater uses 0.4 to 1.0 kilowatt-hours of energy per hour of use.
Do you just plug in a block heater?
Normally, newer vehicles are able to start at temperatures as low as -30° C, but it may cause more strain on the engine to do so if the block heater hasn't been plugged in. A general rule of thumb is to plug in your engine block heater when the weather reaches -15° C or lower, just to be safe.
Are engine block heaters worth it?
Using a block heater saves on gas, makes your engine parts last longer, and is good for the environment. However if you keep your car in a heated garage, there's no point in having a block heater.