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Questions and Answers

Engine And Block Heaters

Q. Hi Vince, Thanks for helping out with the last question I had regarding my Ford Escort transmission. I am now moving from Vancouver to Calgary where the temperature goes around -30°C (-22°F) in winter. In Vancouver, where I bought the car, we rarely get -5°C (23°F) in winter.

Engine And Block Heaters

I am thinking of taking my Escort with me, but I've been advised to make sure my car has a block heater or get one for it. So here are my questions:

1. How do I know my car already has a block heater?

2. If my car doesn't have one, how easy it is to install one myself?

3. There is a piece of carpet like cover underneath the hood (I noticed it because not all cars have it) which has power cables going into it. Do you know what is?

My car info:
1991 Ford Escort (built May 1990)
1.9 liter

Thanks in advance,
Reza

A. Well Reza, there are several types of engine heaters. There is a type that replaces the dipstick and actually keeps the oil warm. There is a heater that splices into the upper radiator hose and heats the coolant. Another type is a heating coil that goes into the block by replacing a freeze plug. This is the type I have in my Mercedes Benz diesel and it works very well. Here in Minnesota the temperature can get down to 30°F (-34°C) or 40° (-40°C) below.

Engine And Block Heaters

I like the block heater. It goes right into the block and does a good job of keeping the coolant and oil warm. Plus it helps you get heat to the heater quicker. That would be my first choice. However I would also recommend having a mechanic put it in for you. I believe you can get the exact block heater for your car from a Ford dealer.

The radiator hose type is easy enough to install. It only need a screwdriver and takes about 15 minutes to install. The dipstick type takes no time at all. Simply pull out the dipstick and put in the heater.

What you have sounds like a heater blanket. Very similar to electric blankets people out on their beds. I have never used one so I can't offer an opinion on how they work.

There is another type of heater I should mention. This type sticks onto the bottom of your oil pan to keep the oil warm. Again, I have no personal experience with this type of heater.

If the car already has an engine heater, there will be an electrical cord, usually hanging out the front of the car or in that area.

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