Block Heater Needed?

Hi. I’m planning to move from the U.S. to Edmonton, Canada. I’ve been told I should get a block heater installed on my Toyota Sienna to plug in when the weather gets cold. Would you please let me know if you think this is needed? I’ve called around some places in Nashville, TN and one mechanic thinks I won’t need it. Thanks!

I’ve never been there in winter, but based on the weather reports I’ve seen in the past, it seems like it would be a good idea. I suspect a lot of people have them.

I would wait until you move there before doing anything. The mechanics in Edmonton Canada will be far more knowledgeable about the needs for a block heater than the mechanics in Nashville, TN.

In the winter you might consider using 0W-20 oil. That should stay thin enough in the cold weather to allow easy starting of the car. A block heater might be useful, but wait until you are living there to make that decision. I’d bet that 90% of the cars in Edmonton don’t have block heaters and the owners get to work on time.

Now a work truck with a diesel motor would be another story.

Uncle Turbo; virtually ALL cars in Edmonton have block heaters, as well as heavy duty batteries. They are shipped that way by the manufacturers, and those cars made in the USA have the block heaters installed by the dealers.

I agree that it’s better to have a local garage do it, since they do this all the time, and the mechanic in Nashville might screw it up since he barely knows what a block heater looks like.

OP will be pleasantly surprised that nearly all motels have electrical outlets in the parking lot so you can plug in overnight, as has the airport parking lot. Most apartment buildings have outlets as well. All houses have outside outlets and double garages have two, as required by the electrical code.

Having done a stint there, I encountered -35 to -40 temperatures frequently in mid winter, and found the block heater an immense benefit. Not only did my car start easier, but it warmed up quicker to give the heater a head start.

An interior car warmer is also nice if you have to park outside; you will see many cars with two cords sticking out from under the hood. Both will together be less than 15 amps so you don’t need two outlets.

The best oil I found was 0W30 synthetic; it allowed me to have easy starts and also do fast highway driving without oil consumption. If you have an older vehicle and use 0W20, you will likely encounter oil consumption.

You definitely should wait until you’re up there to decide. If it were me I’d make sure I have a good battery, and I’d change my oil in the fall to the lowest weight oil listed in you manual, and I’d use a full synthetic oil.

I assume you’ll be parking outside at night?

I lived in Messena NY one winter…We had a few days it went below -40…and a couple days that reached -50. This was before block heaters were widely used…and multi weight oil was just being introduced. Many people there would drain their oil at night…bring it in the house then pour it back in engine in the morning…What a pain…but it worked.

Agree about the pain. I went to college in that area, and although my car actually had a block heater, there was nowhere on campus to plug in. I used 5W30, just introduced, and the car would start most of the time. If not I walked.

In the Canadian West (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba)and North, as well as Alaska block heaters have been in use for a very long time. My car was a 1948 Chevy stovebolt 6, and had been owned by a military guy who did service in the North somewhere.

Yep agree. The farther north in Minnesota you get the more block heaters are used and there are outlets at offices and hotels to plug in. When it starts getting past -20, it is cruel to start an engine without one. I be a little careful that the oil used is allowed per the owner’s manual is all. And wait till you get up there. All the parts houses will stock them.