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Old 01-20-2018, 02:49 PM   #1
PaulR
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Default Silly question on factory engine block heater.

This may sound silly, but I suspect that my engine block heater on my 2008 XE does not function. Is there a way, other than checking the lower oil pan and oil check stick, too see if the oil in the engine has warmed up? I do not know if that would be a good indication either. I feel no difference in the temperature when going out to my car in the morning. After it is plugged into the outlet in my unheated garage the car does not start any faster. The connections with the bumper plug-in are clean and not tarnished. Let me know. Thanks.

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Old 01-21-2018, 11:22 AM   #2
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Default Re: Silly question on factory engine block heater.

Is this a factory engine block heater or aftermarket item? When was the last time it was used and worked?

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Old 01-21-2018, 12:52 PM   #3
Saturn4Ever
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Default Re: Silly question on factory engine block heater.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulR View Post
This may sound silly, but I suspect that my engine block heater on my 2008 XE does not function. Is there a way, other than checking the lower oil pan and oil check stick, too see if the oil in the engine has warmed up? I do not know if that would be a good indication either. I feel no difference in the temperature when going out to my car in the morning. After it is plugged into the outlet in my unheated garage the car does not start any faster. The connections with the bumper plug-in are clean and not tarnished. Let me know. Thanks.
The car won't start faster necessarily, if its extremely cold the battery is still going to be cold and it will make that slower cranking sound. The OEM oil pan heater (not a block heater) will help the engine warm up faster - you might notice that heat is available sooner. I rarely use mine...only if its -20 C or lower.

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Old 01-22-2018, 08:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Silly question on factory engine block heater.

I never used mine so I am not an expert.

I seem to recall that there was a thermostat built into the power cord and only activated at lower temperatures. Not sure what the activation temperature was.

I also recall a member posting on here how he could not get his car to start in very cold temperatures one day. Apparently the cam phasers were not in the "start" position and with the cold oil they would not move. I believe there was an ECM update that fixed this issue.

The heater only warms the oil so I doubt that you will find any difference to the warm up of the car. I had a more traditional block heater in another car that warmed the coolant in the engine and I was able to notice that the car did seem to warm up faster using this style.

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Old 02-10-2018, 12:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Silly question on factory engine block heater.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Is this a factory engine block heater or aftermarket item? When was the last time it was used and worked?
OEM. My XE was originally imported to Canada, which I understand most, if not all, Astras were equipped with the heater. Probably not for a long time. When I bought it used, I found the power cord buried between the back seat cushions and cargo floor. The car is always (unheated) garaged and I just wanted to try it out this season. The body plug in connectors were tarnished but undamaged and not corroded so I tried to clean them too.

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Last edited by PaulR; 02-10-2018 at 12:55 PM..

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Old 02-10-2018, 01:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: Silly question on factory engine block heater.

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Originally Posted by Saturn4Ever View Post
The car won't start faster necessarily, if its extremely cold the battery is still going to be cold and it will make that slower cranking sound. The OEM oil pan heater (not a block heater) will help the engine warm up faster - you might notice that heat is available sooner. I rarely use mine...only if its -20 C or lower.
Thanks, now I know it is an oil pan heater. Although when checked after being plugged in for a long time, I did not notice the oil in the pan or outside of the oil pan being any warmer. It may get down to 0 F in my unheated garage but not often. I still remember the lower radiator hose heaters and the ones that would pump warmed coolant throughout the engine. Now those you knew worked!

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Old 02-10-2018, 01:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Silly question on factory engine block heater.

Engine block heaters heat up the entire engine block, oil and coolant. Since metal takes longer to heat up, electric heaters transfers heat into the engine block that dissipates it throughout the block. Since the engine block is metal, heat is distributed immediately without any hot spots. If you're fingers are sensitive to heat and cold, touching the engine block directly near the heating element may feel slightly warm compared to parts farthest away from the heater. Another way to check for a good heater is measuring the resistance of the heating element with a multimeter. A 120vac heater rated around 750 watts or so may show a value between 8 to 25 ohms; https://bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ub...a_block_heater. Any resistance indicates the heating element is intact and should create heat from ac power. Googling for help; https://itstillruns.com/test-block-heater-6633556.html.

In general, the difference between a very cold engine with temps around 0C/31F or well below freezing will be either slower cranking revolutions and sluggish cold engine running or a normal cranking sound as if the engine were being started in warm weather. Using 0w20/0w30 oil, dino or synthetic also helps with freezing weather startup and running in very cold temps. The 0 in 0w weight oil allows oil to remain liquid and not turn stiff to prevent the engine from turning over in cold weather startups. Heaters plugged in overnight or for an hour or more (timer?) helps warm up the engine block and oil to allow instant starting. This presumes the engine is in good condition with good plugs and started up instantly in warm weather. If the engine isn't starting instantly in warm weather, it may take longer to start up in freezing weather. Heaters help the engine to stay above freezing temps. The EFI system detects the engine coolant temps and automatically adjusts the fuel mixtures - very rich in subfreezing temps, rich all other times for cold engines. Keeping the engine block above freezing temps helps to prevent the engine from flooding on startups. Once started, the engine quickly warms up while the fuel mixtures are gradually leaned out. Heaters used in subfreezing temps are the best mods to prevent straining battery and starter.

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