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Moving to Minneapolis

I’m moving to the Minneapolis area soon, and am currently driving a 2001 Hyundai Elantra. Once there, I plan on relying on public transportation more for daily commuting. Since I purchased the car in Pennsylvania, and it’s spent the last few years in snowy, northern Indiana, I’m a bit concerned about moving to the “Coldest Place On Earth”, or at least that’s how people have made it sound.

On to the point of my post, my car does not have an engine block heater, and since I wouldn’t necessarily be driving every day, I was wondering if I should get one installed. Are they necessary in Minneapolis? Are outlets readily available in most locations? If I don’t have access to an outlet, is there a way around it? And finally, should I wait till I’m there to go to a dealer for the installation, or is it an easy thing I can do myself?

If anybody has some first hand experience, I would be greatly appreciative. I don’t want my car to become a useless block of ice until the spring thaw because I wasn’t prepared.

You have lots of time to prepare for winter. Make sure the battery is in good shape, the coolant is good for -40, and you have a good winter oil, such as 0W30. If you can’t plug in a block heater, I would put 0W30 Mobi 1 full synthetic oil in the car. It has a pour point of about -50F, and will make for easy starting. I lived in a cold area before I had a house, and dangled a long cord out of the bedroom window to plug in the block heater. I would have one installed locally; lots of good shops to do it. Many motels and even restaurants there have plug-ins for guests.

“Coldest Place on Earth” includes places like the Arctic Warfare Center in Alaska, not Minneapolis! There is actually civilization and a great city to live in up there. I will let real Minnesotans answer your specific questions, but once you get there, you can also ask for neighbors for advice. Likely, much of it isn’t much different than what you did in Indiana or Pennsylvania.

Docnick makes some good suggestions. Find out whether your neighbors are using snow tires once you get there.

Use synthetic oil in the winter at least, have a good battery, decent tires and all will be fine.

The people in Duluth are going to laugh at you for calling the Minneapolis area the “coldest place on earth”.

When you live in Minnesota in the winter, here’s how you prepare for cold weather.

50/50 mix antifreeze/water.

Set of winter tires.

5W30 oil/0W30 if synthetic.

Block heater. But you’ll only be able to plug this in at home. Your work or businesses won’t provide plug-ins for car heaters. Any independent garage here can install a block heater in your vehicle.

Engine tune-up.

But it’s not usually the items above that prevent your engine from starting when it gets extremely cold here. It’s the damn 8% ethanol in the gas that causes that. Ethanol dosn’t vaporize at all at extremely cold temperatures. Instead it condenses into droplets and floods the engine. So, you also need to carry a can of starting ether in the vehicle to get the engine started when that happens.


I’m sure they will, but if you listen to what people around here say, Minneapolis might as well be the north pole. I’m sure they’re only slightly exaggerating.

Having lived in MN for all of my 29 years, I’ve found that there is little that you NEED to do to your car to make it through the winter but there are things that make it easer.

Tops on the list is a good battery. As it starts to cool off in the fall, pay attention to how your car turns over and if it starts to slow down have a new battery installed. If in doubt get a new one. It’s a lot cheaper to get one when you want instead of when you need.

Have your antifreeze checked so you know it’s good to at least -30, and better yet -40.

A good set of tires is necessary but in my experience keeping a second set of dedicated snow tires on steel rims is overkill. We have a lot of snow plows and they keep the road passable. I’ve never had a problem with front wheel drive and a set of all-seasons. If the roads are so bad that I can’t get through I really shoudn’t be out anyway.

A block heater is not necessary. I don’t know anyone who has a modern car (95 and newer) who has one and uses it. A few places have outlets available but there are fewer and fewer of them every year. Nobody wants to pay for some stranger’s block heater all day and night. One nice thing about the heater is that you get heat in your car sooner, a big plus when it’s 20 or 30 below and yes it does get that cold here. A week or more below zero (7 days in a row not 7 days total for the winter) is not uncommon and a month or more below freezing is expected.

It’s a good idea to keep some warm clothes, a pair of boots and some high calorie food in the passenger compartment of your car just in case you go in the ditch. Don’t keep it in the trunk because if you go deep into the snow in the ditch you may not be able to open your doors; that’s when it’s time for the cell phone. You do have one right?

When you’re looking for an apartment or a house make sure there is off-street parking. Minneapolis and St. Paul and the surrounding burbs tow hundreds of cars each winter becuase they are parked on the wrong side of the street during a declared snow emergency (usually 2+ inches in 24 hours). I’ve heard it can cost $300 or more for the fine, storage and towing. Make sure you learn your city’s rules. A garage is a huge plus in MN. Your car WILL get dirty if it’s parked on the street. There is also the danger of someone sliding into it.

Welcome to Minnesota!

I’ve lived in minnesota all my life, i’ve got a 1989 Honda Accord with no block heater, conventional oil, and no snow tires and have never had trouble getting around in the winter. And I live in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis where the roads don’t get cleared as fast. I wouldn’t worry about it, the winters aren’t as bad as people think.

Naw, I’m up there every day. No one uses the block heaters anymore if they have fuel injection which you do. Outlets are not common place in Minneapolis except possibly some apartment complexes. Bemidji yes but Minneapolis no. Inactivity and battery health would be the main issues. A good battery and as others have suggested, keep up with the maintenance. I would just try to run it once a week anyway. I had a car siting outside for a month at a time and would start right up.