Engine block heaters

I just bought a 1996 VW Passat TDI. I live in Central New York, and we regularly see temperatures between 0-10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. I am wondering if I will need an engine block heater, or some other mechanism to keep to car warm enough over night. The last few weeks it has been in the 30’s in the mornings and the car has started, but smokes. I just buy diesel at the gas stations around here and am not sure if there are additives for cold weather. Please let me know if you have any answers/suggestions. Thanks!

I grew up in central NY…and NEVER needed a block heater. Any good motor-oil is fine. The coldest it ever got in that region is -25. Synthetic oil is good for those winters…especially when it gets to -15 or colder. Get up to Old Forge or Messena you might see temps as low as -50…THEN you’ll NEED a block heater.

I also have a TDI. I have not needed any kind of special help even at -20F. At -20f it does take it a little while to warm up to a comfortable driving temperature howerver.

All the fuel sold in your area should already be winterized so you should not need any additional additives. That said many people due use a anti-g el at lwast at the begining of the year like now. I put in some Powerserve at the last two fill ups. That was on bottle of the stuff and I doubt if I will bother with any more until next fall.

It is not unusual to get a little smoke this time of year. White smoke is just condensation from the tail pipe. Black smoke is unburned fuel that is also not unusual when it is cold and likely will disapear as it warms up.

Like any car a block heater will help with starting and with getting the heater hot enought to start warming the cabin. Diesels don’t warm up as fast of gasoline cars. Note on cold days you will have lower power when you first start out.

Block heaters are not just for allowing the car to start. They also :

  1. Save the battery and make it last longer. I live in a cold area and my batteries ususally last at least 7 years.
  2. They allow more rapid warm up, thereby saving on engine wear.
  3. They save gas through more rapid warmup
  4. You get heat very quickly from heater and defroster.
  5. Your engine will last longer

I have used block heaters for many years, and putting them on a timer to come on at 5:30 or so allowed suffucient heating without consuming too much electricity. Where I live it costs about $8 per month to operate a block heater.

Although we drive our cars very long, the last time I did an engine overhaul was the summer of 1964, on a Plymouth.

  1. Save the battery and make it last longer. I live in a cold area and my batteries ususally last at least 7 years.

I too live in a cold area…And I have no problem keeping my batteries for 7 years either WITHOUT a block heater.

  1. They allow more rapid warm up, thereby saving on engine wear.

Been able to keep several vehicles well past 250k miles. Engines were still in EXCELLENT condition when we sold vehicles…again…No block heater.

  1. They save gas through more rapid warmup

I’d be very surprised if you got even close to .5mpg increase.

  1. You get heat very quickly from heater and defroster.

I’ll agree with that.

  1. Your engine will last longer

Isn’t this the same as #2?? So you keep your vehicles to 500k miles???

When I was a kid growing up in CNY, one reason that no one, including the school district, owned diesels was that they could be unreliable on cold mornings. A lot has changed since then, but I think there are still very few diesel engines in use up there outside of heavy trucks.

see tdiclub.com about the smoking. It could be a problem that is pronounced by the cold or normal for the engine. 0-10F is really not that cold.

My only recommendation is to use a synthetic motor oil in the winter. It makes winter starts much easier.

I use a block heater at temps of 15 degrees and less, I think you might have it checked as to another problem for the smoke at 30 deg, but a block heater is best, dipstick heaters, magnetic block heaters, and heater hose heaters from all I have heard and read are not the way to go. Living in North Dakota it was standard issue, in fact the last 3 cars we bought in wisconsin had one the salesman was not even aware of. Check, you might have one already.

Yea, that is another bit of advice passed down from generation to generation long after it was no longer true.

Modern diesel engines using modern fuels don’t have those problems.