If you drive during the winter months, you’ve probably heard that you may need to plug in your vehicle’s engine block heater to ensure it starts. But when exactly should you plug it in, and where do you find the engine block heater? Your friends here at Sherwood Ford have the answers for you.
Many of us here in the Edmonton area need to drive during the winter months in order to get to our jobs, get our kids to school, and get groceries for our families. While driving in mild winter weather isn’t too bad, driving in extreme winter conditions is hard on engines. Like most of us, our engines don’t like the extreme cold. They operate best when the weather is warmer, and while we can’t change the winter temperatures, we can make it so our engines are warm thanks to engine block heaters. Many of our Ford vehicles have engine block heaters to ensure that you can keep your engine nice and warm during the cold winter months. As you’ll see in the pictures below, the cord to plug in your engine block heater is typically found under the hood, and we’ve even drawn a box around where the cord is for your convenience.
What is an Engine Block Heater?
Before we go into when you should plug in your engine block heater, let’s take a look at what an engine block heater does. When you start your engine, oil moves through the engine block in order to lubricate all the different moving parts. When we experience extreme winter temperatures, -20° C or lower, the oil thickens up and begins to get gooey. This makes it harder for the oil to move through your engine, which causes your engine to work harder, using more gas and producing more emissions. The engine block heater keeps the engine block at an ideal temperature for the oil to remain thin so it can easily move through the engine block.
When to Plug in an Engine Block Heater
While the exact temperature that you should think about plugging in your engine block heater varies, the important thing to remember is that if it’s going to be extremely cold during the night, or early morning hours, you should probably plug in your vehicle. 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. If you drive a diesel vehicle, you may need to plug in the engine block heater before temperatures drop that low.
How Long Should I Use the Engine Block Heater
Much like when to use the engine block heater, there are many different answers as to how long you should leave the engine block heater plugged in. You don’t want to waste money, but at the same time, you want to make sure your vehicle starts in the morning. One thing that most can agree on is that the maximum amount of time you should leave the engine block heater plugged in for is four hours. Any more and you’re just wasting electricity. You should also plan for plugging your vehicle in for at least two hours to ensure it will start. To sum it up, anywhere between two and four hours, depending on how cold it is, will be a sufficient amount of time to leave your engine block heater plugged in.