Anybody Use Engine Heaters in Winter? Any Advice


Founding Member
Mar 13, 2001
Lung Gyland, NY
Its pretty damn cold here on LI, NY now and as usual i'm struggling with getting my 5.0 to heat up. I work close to home and the engine is just starting to warm up by the time I get there. I know this is not good for a bunch of reasons. I thought about using an electric heater over night. Either a block or oil pan heater. Anybody use them? Are there any good models for my car? How do they work? Thanks.
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You want a block or antifreeze heater. Factory block heaters are common in Maine and Canada. The factory block heaters often replace a freeze plug. If you want, check out to see if you can get a Ford block heater. I would NOT trust some POS aftermarket block heater that replaces the freeze plug If you want an aftermarket block heater, get one that is magnetic - not great, but better than having you block puke anti-freeze while you're driving and ruining the engine.
It's not going to make your engine warm up any faster however, just allow for easier starting and less wear and tear on startup.

If your car is slow to warm up, try putting a peice of cardboard in front of the rad on cold winter days
You don't want to put cardboard in front of a Stang radiator. That's a great way to overheat the engine and ruin an engine. The Stang cooling system is marginal as it is.

A block heater *will* make the engine warm up faster. just ask any of your "Canuk" friends. :) An engine heater will make the engine about ~30F above the winter temps. That actual amount depends on a number of factors. With a BIG engine heater, an engine can start at about 70-90F even if it's OF. But, that's assuming a factory engine heater and a garage where there's no wind.

In Maine and Canada, it's *common* for even apartments to have an external outlet for people's cars that are outside (it's part of of the apartments electrical service and they have an on/off switch inside).

My Cutlass had an in-line water heater for many years (when it was my daily driver). Having a "3/4 quarters" race cam and over big carb means that the car runs like pure s*** when cold. (Yea, both the cam and carb are WAY to big for the 350. But, that's what I did when I was in school and I decided to keep it that way.) Without the engine heater, that car was a huge pain to warm up. The car will *not* move until the engine/coolant temps get above 120. Well, I guess if it was on a hill and I put in in N, it would move. :)

From the State of Alaska's web site

Program Eligibility
Why plug in at 20F?
Outdoor Electrical Safety (pdf)
How to Use Your Timer (pdf)

Contact Us
Environmental Services Division
Department of Health and Human Services
825 L Street
PO Box 196650
Anchorage AK 99519-6650
Phone: 907-343-4200
TTY: 907-343-4797

Environmental Services Division
Air Quality Program

Engine Block Heater
Installation Program

Did you know that engine block heaters reduce air pollution from starting and idling cold engines by about 60% and also reduce engine wear?

The Engine Block Heater Installation Program was enthusiastically received again this winter. Program funding is nearly exhausted at the contracting garages, Agen’s Automotive and the Automotive Skills Facility. Existing appointments will be honored but no additional appointments will be taken for this program.

Thank you, Anchorage, for your support. Remember to plug in your vehicle at 20 degrees and below for two to three hours prior to departure.

For Anchorage vehicles already equipped with block heaters, a limited number of programmable timers will be distributed through Green Star, Inc. Motorists may consult Green Star’s recorded message at 278-7827 for distribution dates and sites.

Kim Hotstart TPS101GT10-000 Engine Coolant Block Heater
Price: $105.00
Availability: In Stock. Ships from and sold by Advanced Service And Parts, LLC.

Product Features
Molded from high impact, rust & corrosion resistant "PPS".
Vibration and shock tested. Incoloy element for longer service life.
Thermostat regulates coolant temperature between 100-120 degrees F.
Greatly reduced heat loss for more efficient operation.
All parts are field replaceable. Not a throw - away design.

Also from Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency:
Block Heaters Save Fuel and Help the Environment

Definately buy a FORD block heater...don't go with some other crappy brand. I went through this with one of my Mustangs...I kept having the other brand block heaters blow out on me, causing me to spew coolant all over the road. Went to a Ford unit and the problem never returned for the rest of the time I owned the car.
Which freeze plug should the Ford block heater freeze plug replace? Is there any way to run the cord somewhere under the car so I don't have to open the hood every time I plug it in? Thanks in advance!
mine plugs into the freeze plug just underneath the passenger side header. The cord runs up to the front LX grill and i can reach inside and grab it to use it.

Since my car will no longer be winter driven, i'll prob be removing it