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Engine Block Heater Questions

Do you have an engine block heater and do you like it?

  • Yes- works great

    Votes: 42 82.4%
  • Yes but don't need it

    Votes: 1 2.0%
  • No- don't want one

    Votes: 2 3.9%
  • No but wanting one

    Votes: 6 11.8%

  • Total voters


SM 2003
Full Member
Jun 11, 2002
Littleton, CO
As you can tell in my sig, I feel that an engine block heater is rather necessary for the AV at 10,000 ft at our cabin on cold winter nights. It can get down right cold up there.

The AV starts great on cold starts. One night it just got too cold up there and there isn't much civilization around there. Last winter, it got down to -15 degrees :eek:. The cold start was sluggish and a bit longer as a result.

As I understand it, the engine block heater would prevent sluggish starts in the cold regardless of the temperature, right?

What I'm interested in seeing are your experiences with the engine block heater and if they're really worth it or not.

What I'd also like to know is if anyone had to pay labor for the installation of it. We were told that it would be $35 for the heater and another $70 for the labor :mad: That seems a little high if you ask me.

So if you would, let me know your experiences and if you had to pay labor for the heater installation.

(BTW-feel free to move this if needed-I tried using the Search button but the results wouldn't load ;))
I installed a block heater on my 95 Sierra 1500. It's not too bad of a job if a person is the least bit mechanically inclined.

On mine all I had to do was drain the cooling system,
pop out one of the freeze plugs in the engine block and the block heater goes in it's place. Then refill the cooling system with water and anti-freeze. I re-used mine that I drained since it was relatively new.

The block heater doesn't keep the coolant much warmer than maybe 80 deg. but that's a lot better than -30.

I was hoping when I installed it that I'd have almost instant heat. It still took a few minutes for the engine to warm up enough to have heat, but it did start much better and with extreme cold temperatures it does help to protect the engine.

Passed on this option...the temps never get cold enough around here to warrant it....can't assume it would be too hard to install...of course I don't know since I've never done one... :B:
Ordered it with the truck as well as the snowplow package, but haven't used eiter yet. It got down to -20F here last winter but no problems starting. I use Mobil 1 which helps a bunch for those cold weather starts.

I think I might use it this year not 'cause I like the idea of a quick warm up - for me not the truck ;) .

Colorado, I ordered my 02 with it, a extra $26. I pluged mine last february outside temp was 0 left Av outside for 8 hours and then pluged it in for 30 minutes and then started the engine within 2 minutes I had nice warm air (not hot)coming from the heater. If you park facing the wind, the heater will not be as effective. Haven't used it since because my garage is 60 degrees all the time, Av likes it. $26, I would do it again :)
Hi Colorado, Up here in the Great White North, the block heater is not really an option, the trucks just show up with them. That said I never used mine last year. Damn good thing because when I tried to find the plug I could not. They hid it, and I mean hid, within engine compartment under the battery.
There are two types of heaters:
1) block heater - the main job is to keep the fluids at a reasonable temperature. The oil is the big one. Keeping it at decent temperature allows the engine to turn over much easier daving strain on many things as well as just starting period. It only takes a few hours to work so there is no need to plug the truck in for extended periods of time, just a few hours before you want to go.
2) interior car heater. This is a unit that keeps the interior of the vehicle warm (or warmed than outside). Even in Canada not very many people have these. Saw them the most often in Manitoba. Most of us just grind our teeth until the engine warms up.

I would go for the heater to save some wear and tear on the truck, and I would have the dealer install in case something goes wrong. Just my opinion. I try to keep GM/dealer from being able to blame me or someone else for any problems
I have used block heaters for many years and frankly would not have a rig without one. Any time it is under 20? the use of a block heater is appropriate.

The coolant stays warmish, oil is at the proper viscocity for startup and there is a lot less drain on the battery. What's not to like?

Gad, guys spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on ornimental (and largely useless) mods and neglect the very useful block heater -- it makes no sense.

I would also consider it more of a protective maintanece plan than anything else. It can get down to 60 below here and it's very nice to have a block heater. I usually don't have it pluged in all the time, but most of the winter I don't mind paying that little more on my electric bill.
I also passed on the option.

What are we implying as reasonably cold temperatures? ?
Is there really a need to have one of these living in OH/MI? ?
Temperatures rarely go below 10-15 ???
Believe it or not I've had people...that I knew that had bought there trucks with the engine heaters....so I asked them did they think that it got cold enough here in the state...and believe it or not they said no...but they said you never know where you might go..where it would come in handy....fair enough... :B:
The block heaters are cheap enough that getting one "just in case" is no big thing. I spend a lot of time in the mountains bow hunting in late November and December. After seeing a couple of other guys rigs freeze up it's nice to know all I have to do is plug the rig into my generator when the need arises.
Like someone posted a few messages up, here in Manitoba EVERYBODY has a block heater on the car. You cannot buy a car here that doesn't have one installed. When I bought the avalanche, it was listed as a "Winter Prep Package" (although I have no idea what else is in the package other than the block heater).

But also note that NOONE up here plugs there car in until it gets to -15 to -20 Celcius. Heck, the outlets at work don't turn on until it drops below -18C. Gotta save electricity so we can meet Kyoto standards ^^)

If you don't factor in windchill, Jan/Feb can get down to -35C at night (and sometimes the daytime high temperature is only -30C!)

And the in-car heaters are useless after -10C. They suck lots of power, but do little more than keep the frost off the windows. Most places where you plug in forbid the use of them. The college I went to actually had the parking ticket cops unplug your vehicle if it was found you had one because it would blow the breaker!

We get snow here, but it really doesn't get that cold. Getting as low as the teens is pushing it around here. Maybe I'd appreciate it if I had one, but I've never felt the need.

In the garage, it doesn't get that cold that starting is a problem. After being out in the parking lot all day at work, it's sometimes a little sluggish starting if it's unusually cold, but then there's nowhere to plug it in!

So, the few times I could actually use it, it turns out that I can't use it! :rolleyes:

trash, by your comments, I take it that it's typical to have plug-in points in parking lots? That's unherad of here. Is that in all lots, or just at busniess/college lots?

-- SS
Yeah, just about every outdoor parking stall has electrical outlets. Most (I would think) have a governer on them to cycle power, instead of being on all the time. Every house that has a driveway has a plug beside it too! I have a timer at home so that it turns on the heater about 4 hours before waking up. Any longer than that and it's just wasting electricity.

My neighbour last year ran a 100ft extension cord from his basement window (he has no plugs on the outside of his house, go figure) to his car parked down the street so it would start the next morning. :eek:


P.S why do I live here you ask? 2 reasons: 1) I haven't yet found a job in Florida or Texas (and believe me I'm trying!) and 2) in the summer, the country here is beautiful, except for the mosquitos. :C:
Thanks for the responses so far.

The AVERAGE low temps here in the winter are around 15 degrees while it's about 10-15 colder up at 10,000 ft. Winter is starting to become strong here: 10 degrees this morning (-10 wind chill) and 0 degrees at the cabin (-20 wind chill). It just seems like a good thing to have in this cold climate.

The AV was in the garage overnight so it was warmer in there than outside.
i feel like an idiot ;) I got my AV with the engine block heater included but I can't seem to find the darn thing. What does it look like, and is it a cord that i plug into a regular outlet? my truck still starts up quicke when I'm in the snow but i just want to know if i got what i paid for.. namely an engine block heater ;)
Is the engine block heater a GM product or is it an aftermarket or third party product..just curious.... :B:
Well, this is dumb: we found out that it would be $230 for an engine block heater :7: :8: :D:! What's up with that?

GM advertises it as a $35 option :rolleyes:.

Something's not adding up right.
There is no way that the block heater should be a $230 option. Where I live you can get block heaters for around $20 - $30 Canadian, and if you're nervous about popping a freeze plug out of the engine, the labour is only 1/2 hour.

And being what the Candian dollar is valued at nowadays, this should convert to the price of an American beer...... ;D

I have the block heater (I made the dealer find an Av with one). I work rotating shiftwork all hours of the day or night and in Iowa it can get down to -30. I had one on my Pontiac SSEi and used it a lot. I also had a hard time finding it. I told a couple of guys from work and we finally found it crawling around in the engine compartment and underneath the truck. It's supposed to get up in the 50's next week so I'll take a couple of pics and post them on PictureTrail for anyone that wants to know where it is. I still have not used it this year, but when it does drop below zero this winter and the Av's outside at work, it'll be plugged in.
Where did yuou finaly find it? I have been looking all over engine compartment with no luck in finding it. The manual says "The cord is located on the driver'side of the engin compartment, near the power steering fluid reservoir." But I can find it. Is it located up under the truck?

Any help in finding this thing would be appricated.
I took some pics and posted them on PictureTrail. They're at the bottom of my album. Follow the link below. I hope this helps. If you still can't find the plug, let me know and I'll try to be more precise.

I think I'm gonna have to find a short ext. cord and move the plug to a little easier spot to get to (maybe the towhook area). I am NOT crawling around on the ground to plug it in when it's cold enough to need the heater!