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Diesel Truck Engine Block Heater

We just purchased a Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel Truck with about 43,000 miles on it. My husband has asked for an Engine Block Heater for Christmas. Note, we live in Colorado and winter is approching. What specific types of Heaters should I look for? Are some better than others? Where can I get one? Have I missed any other important questions. Thanks - Lu Hays

I would consult the parts department at the local Dodge dealer and see if they have a factory block heater for this truck.

The FACTORY block heater usually replaces a freeze plug. Installing one of those can be tricky for a DIYer. A “Tank Type” block heater which is installed in a heater hose work well and can be easily installed by any handy person. Using a timer to control the "on & “off” periods can save a lot of electricity. They don’t need to be on all night. Two or three hours before anticipated start time is enough.

Many of these trucks came with a block heater from the factory. Check under the hood and in the grill for a coiled up 110V power cord before you buy one…

It sort of depends on what your goal for the block heater is. The kind that Caddyman mentions often has a little pump that circulates the coolant resulting in warm air from the heater as soon as you jump in, so those work best if comfort is your primary goal. But if the main goal is warming the engine itself up to get easier starting and less start-up wear, the freeze-plug kind work better because they deliver more heat directly to the block, but you won’t get cabin heat quite as fast as with a recirculating coolant type.

There’s also the kinds that attach magnetically and the kind that drop in the dipstick tube. In situations where the main concern is the coolant freezing, these will work fine keeping it above the 50 below or so at which the coolant will freeze, but they don’t really provide the comfort or engine wear advantages of the other two kinds.

Not sure about dodges but the Ford 6.0 & 6.4 Navistar built diesels ALL have the block heater element installed on the assembly line to avoid excess trouble later. When a customer buys the option they are simply supplied with the neccessary wires.
Have yours checked to see if maybe the freeze plug type element might already be in the block.

Okay - We will take your advise and look under the hood - maybe we have one, but just don’t know it. I have another question. There is what looks like black soot on both front tires and rims. Someone told us that it’s from the brakes. Is this normal? It washes off pretty easily. I forgot to mention that it’s a 2006 RAM. Thanks to all - Lu

Yes, the stuff on the wheels is brake dust. Some types/brands of brake pads are more prone to this than others. It’s normal and harmless.