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Engine block heaters

Couple of questions about block heaters:

  1. Is the OEM heater the best or only way to go? The one for my Subaru Legacy costs about $110 excluding installation.
  2. The car is brand new. I could probably save some money on installation at a good independent shop, but on the Legacy there’s a lot of parts under the car that need to be removed and reinstalled. I’m concerned that the dealer could question any future warranty claim that involved a part the independent handled. Should I just bite the bullet and pay the dealer’s price to avoid future questions?

It’s a 1/2 hour install job, so dealer labor isn’t going to kill you. Since this is your new baby and you are concerned about it, may as well have the dealer do it. You won’t save hardly any $$ by going elsewhere since it’s such a short job.

You could buy an aftermarket heater but none will be integral with the the engine. They’ll be magnetic stick-ons, etc. I’d spend the $150 or so on the dealer install.

Go for it. It isn’t that unreasonable, if you feel you need one. I do feel it will be close to $200. They will make it an hour job. IMHO, you won’t save much at an independent. Good ones get “good” money too. Where do you live ? Vermont ?

OK, I got the specifics…and maybe some are open to question:

$149 for the heater (online it’s about $110-$120)
$35 for new coolant (they claim that, even in a brand new car, the existing coolant picks up impurities when it’s flushed, so it can’t be reused)
1.5 hours labor (I can sort of believe this, having watched a YouTube video of this labor on a recent Subaru-- there’s lots of stuff to unbolt and rebolt)

Grand total is $324, but minus 15 percent parts discount coupon through the end of Nov. That’s basically the cost of the coolant taken off, or a grand, grand total of around $290. If car isn’t delivered until early Dec, I’d have to see if I could prepay and get the discount. Ideally I’d pick up the new car with heater already installed.

Salesman just told me, there’s a $20 coupon off labor, too. So about $260, plus tax I guess.

Welcome to the wonderful world of car dealerships. Bit the bullet and get it over with.

Tell the dealer to throw in a loaner car for the day, free, and do it.

I never put anything on my cars except the factory block heater. That’s what I would do. Compare the $200 cost to the likely vehicle cost of $30, 40K and it becomes insignificant.

Long ago I worked on a fleet at a dairy and all the trucks had a coolant heater in the lower radiator hose similar to this

They were easily installed and as simple and fool proof as you can get. The engines started as easily as they would have in summer heat and the heater/defroster outlet temperature was hot immediately. They were an absolute neccessity on the diesels but all the trucks were critical and needed to start and get on the road long before dawn.

But I would encourage the OP to go with the dealer also. The opposed cylinder design might require some peculiar set up and definitely the power cord needs to be properly routed and fixed conveniently.

Like all dealer work, they’re wringing every penny they can out of the job. But since the car is brand new and any modifications you make that are not done by the dealer might be used by them to deny warranty coverage should you have any heating or cooling problems, I’d let the dealer do it. The extra cost over having it done elsewhere is worth it to protect your warranty.

NOTE: if this were an older, out of warranty vehicle my recommendation would be to go to an independent.

The price sounds fair to me and appears to be based on roughly a 100 dollar an hour flat rate. Some areas of the country are much higher than that.

Seeing as how this is a new car you should have the dealer do this job. If a DIYer or independent shop does anything at all to affect any part that is removed or affected by the block heater install warranty can, and should, be denied.

The time to do it is now while the car is new. I’ve installed some of them on Subarus that have been in operation for a few years and removing those block plugs can be a bear sometimes.

Oh, yeah, and save your paperwork. Just I case you get a job promotion, move to another state, and need proof that the work was done by a dealer.

The only core plugs I have seen that are difficult to remove are hidden behind something. If you want to put in a block heater, just pick a plug that is easy to get at. On some cars that may be on the back side of the engine from beneath.
If no core plugs are easy, go to one that installs in the lower radiator hose. Put it as close to the engine as possible.