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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:08 PM   #1
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Do I need a block heater?

Hi

This is for Edmonton residents to answer.

I am shortly moving to Edmonton from Burlington, ON. I have heard that Winters there are brutal. Do I need to install a block heater in my car or can I get away without having one?

If I do need to install one, how easy is it and how expensive shoud I expect it to be?

Thanks and cheers
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:23 PM   #2
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Yes, unless you have a garage both at home and at work, you will need a block heater on some days here in the Edmonton area.

Since all cars here come with block heater installed, I am not sure of the price, but I would not expect it to be any more than $50 to $100 plus installation.

There are many different types of block heaters and the installation cost will vary with the style you choose. An in block heater requires the removal of a frost plug to install which means you have to drain the coolant to do the job.

An in line block heater is cheaper and easier to install in that you don't have to drain the coolant, but because they use a small pump to propel and an element to heat the coolant, they are more expensive to buy. I find the in line to be the best as they start with the already warmed coolant when you shut off your car.

A timer is another important tool to have on your plug in. You only need to have the car plugged in for a maximum of three hours before you plan on starting it and it will pay for itself in power savings over the winter.

Lastly, I would not call our winters "brutal", matter of fact we didn't even have snow last winter until March. We do however usually get our fair share of snow and a few days of -30 and colder each season.

Welcome to Alberta by the way!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:26 PM   #3
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I've heard stuff about keeping your tires full of air in the extreme north, or the tires will run with a flat spot until warmed up. True, or legend?
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SINC
Welcome to Alberta by the way!
Thanks SINC and thanks for the info re. block heaters. I guess it would be a good idea to install the block heater just before Winter rather than do it right now, here in Ontario before I leave for Edmonton eh?

Cheers
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tilt
Thanks SINC and thanks for the info re. block heaters. I guess it would be a good idea to install the block heater just before Winter rather than do it right now, here in Ontario before I leave for Edmonton eh?

Cheers
If I were you, I would wait and install it here after you arrive for a couple of reasons. One: more experienced staff at installs here than in your area, and two: you will save your provincial sales tax as there is no sales tax in Alberta.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Macfury
I've heard stuff about keeping your tires full of air in the extreme north, or the tires will run with a flat spot until warmed up. True, or legend?
Yes, that WAS true. But tire technology has changed all that. Before the advent of radial tires, when all vehicles had bias ply tires, they would freeze in the extreme cold and would need several rotations to bring them back to round so you would notice a distinct "bump" for the first block or so, then it would disappear.

Unless you are using bias ply for some reason that is no longer a problem as radials do not freeze in this manner.

Back in the 50s the "bump" lasted for quite some time!
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tilt
Do I need to install a block heater in my car or can I get away without having one?
I'm surprised a car from Ontario wouldn't already have a block heater -- you might want to look around under the hood to see if you already have one.

Other than that, SINC's advice was spot on.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PenguinBoy
I'm surprised a car from Ontario wouldn't already have a block heater -- you might want to look around under the hood to see if you already have one.

Other than that, SINC's advice was spot on.
PB, when I bought a car in SW Ontario back in 1976, it did not come with a block heater. That is optional in Ontario in the southern areas. I had to install one when I moved to Kenora in NW Ontario and all new cars sold there, like here had block heaters.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:19 PM   #9
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Sinc, pardon my ignorance, but what exactly does a block heater accomplish on cold winter's days/nights?
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PenguinBoy
I'm surprised a car from Ontario wouldn't already have a block heater -- you might want to look around under the hood to see if you already have one.

Other than that, SINC's advice was spot on.
In Southern Ontario, most people don't have block heaters. They simply are not necessary. Here in the GTA, you'd likely come across many people who've never even head of one. (Heck, I've never seen one.)

Northern Ontario is whole other story.
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