I’m getting a block heater installed in my pickup Thursday. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do but kept putting off for far too long. Now temperatures have really fallen and I want to keep from wearing out the parts.
Block heaters were actually invented by a North Dakota man named Andrew Freeman back in the 1940s. Before then, residents of cold climates used all sorts of creative means to get their cars started on cold mornings, from shoveling burning coals onto the ground beneath a car to draining the oil every night and storing it inside to keep it warm before refilling it in the morning. To learn more of Freeman’s life story, check out this Dakota Datebook article from Prairie Public Radio.
Block heaters aren’t just good for your convenience; they’re good for the environment. Because cold gas doesn’t vaporize and mix with air as well, a cold engine has to use a bunch more fuel when it starts cold. By starting with a warmer engine block, far less gas is used. This article here details the many kinds of block heaters and some advantages and disadvantages of each.
I’m getting a freeze-plug block heater installed. They’re probably the most common sort of heaters around here. I’ve been using the same sort on my car the past three winters. I’ve never been too sure at what temperature it becomes really beneficial to use a block heater, but I always used it whenever it got below 0 degrees Farenheit. Reading some of the material above, though, I’m thinking it might be wise to use it whenever it gets below 20 or 10 degrees.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. At what temperaturesÂ do you use your block heater? What sort of heater is it? Also, if you live anywhere other than the Jamestown or Fargo areas, climate-wise, what’s your experience with these devices?