Winter Grill Cover

Last winter I saw several trucks, mainly older models around town with carpet pieces attached to their grills. I know you can buy an expensive cover, but is carpet okay for just a short time? During cold events and then take it off? I have a '92 Ford Bronco. Driving in minus 10 last night it was sluggish and I had to hit the gas extra hard getting uphill. It is minus 12 this morning. I think I have carpet in the garage to attach to the grill. Was also going to check the air filter and make sure battery water is okay. Anything else I should be checking? Is it worth getting a winter grill cover? Thanks.

Carpet works great, as does corrugated cardboard. In your climate it’s a must.

You also should get an engine heater if you have access to an overnight electricity source. The oil dipstick ones are useless, but a block heater or lower radiator hose hear will do wonders. In North Dakota I used a lower hose heater, and it worked great.

I should get the engine heater even if it’s parked in a garage? The back half of the garage is partially submerged into ground. It stays somewhat warm in there, (20s/30s if it’s subzero outside).

Okay, carpet or cardboard it is.

It may help warm the motor up, a little quicker, but the sluggishness was as much the drag from all the other fluids as anything. Nothing warms up a car like driving…slowly at first.

Before we had electric fans I had custom made heatherette grill cover for both cars. They had spring loaded metal clips that would grasp the grill bars. The greatly helped with warmup and I left them on until the weather warmed up and I would need the extra cooling.

Truckers love these things in winter.

Ours were really deluxe since they had little flaps with dome fasterners that you could open for fast highway driving or high engine loads.

I used to cover the radiator some in my cars when it was below zero, and it did help get the engine to a warmer operating temperature. You would think the thermostat would stay closed, but I guess it gets warm, opens, a surge of colder coolant comes through and it closes again, and the engine just runs at a minimal temperature. Anyway, if you do it just keep an eye on the temperature gauge.

WE used to have cars that the thermostat was removed-don’t ask, 3rd world. So during winter time we would cover the grill with card-board and it worked just fine. Nobody had the $ for a fancy cover (if they had, then their car would actually have a thermostat…)

What truckers did with diesels that keep them from cool down and gas motors are two different animals. Don’t bother. If you’re getting enough heat, the drag isn’t the motor.

All we ever did was put a piece of cardboard over the radiator itself with a little hole cut out for air to enter. You can’t see it from the outside and on cars with excess cooling capacity, helped keep the engine temp at normal. When its 10 below out, even with the thermostat closed, sometimes the cars would have a hard time staying at operating temp. Haven’t needed it in years though.

my understanding is it’s still beneficial in cold weather.

The t-stat is on outlet; when it opens, coolant that has been chillin’ (literally) in the radiator is introduced at a cold temp. Supposedly, the cylinders closest to the inlet (especially on long engines, like I6) run “too cool,” and wear prematurely as a result.

(I have not personally verified this, though.)

(Not to mention that a rad blind will divert air that otherwise would have entered the engine bay to “die.” This can only help aero…:wink:

When I was in elementary school back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, owner/operators of the school buses tied feed bags over the grille. I’m not sure how well it worked as the buses always were cold on the inside. The heater was up front by the driver. From the second row of seats on back the buses were freezing in the winter. I never understood why auxiliary heaters couldn’t be placed in rows further back to use some of the free engine heat.

I think it’s still useful. I’ve seen new trucks with custom covers that you can zip certain flaps open to close off the air or let more in. One Volvo truck I saw the cover was made specifically for Volvo. Seen them on Mac trucks too.

Kids heal quickly. Besides, they tend behave themselves while they were busy shivering. The trouble makers usually sat in the back…

A piece of foam pipe insulation or foam “noodle” cut to size will slide nicely into horizontal slotted grilles!

When I lived in ND, often the engine wouldn’t warm up to operating temperature without a cover on the radiator. Few engines would, if any. We all had radiator covers.

Truckers have an even more severe issue. Diesels have to be hot to operate properly, far more than gas engines do. They rely strictly on heat generated by compression and residual heat to compel the ignition process. They have no sparkplugs. That’s why they all have adjustable blinds in the drills.

What I’m having trouble with is newer vehicles with no access to the front of the radiator at all as in my 2012 Fiesta. I can’t use my normal pipe insulation trick as the grille slots are not deep enough to hold them, these are more like a egg crate type slots. I have managed to strap cardboard on with nylon wire straps (cable ties) but the paper gets soggy in sloppy weather and falls off.
I have a 1999 Ford Ranger and now the 2012 Fiesta and neither is equipped with a block heater. I have used a magnetic oil pan heater with good results in the past but both these vehicles have aluminum pans. I have an unheated garage which is rarely more than 10 or 20 degrees warmer than outside temps which fall to minus 20 here in Minnesota. I am having block heaters installed “someday” .

Craft stores sell corrugated “cardboard” made of plastic. I confess to not knowing if they’d survive the heat, but it’d be simple to run a small test piece and see what happens. I’m sure there are countless other materials that could be used if you just think creatively. Take a stroll through a craft store, a big box store, and perhaps a few other stores and look around.

@jedi Radiator covers will do nothing for a car that is parked. They only help when the car is being driven to block some of the cold air flow preventing the engine from warming up.

If you have trouble with cardboard, go down to Wallmart and get one of those garage sale sign that use the plastic corrugated material, or if you’ve got an old political yard sign around. That’ll be more weatherproof than regular cardboard that is glued together with corn starch.


School busses made in the last 20 years or do have heaters for the back half of the bus, most of the time the heaters are located on the floor right before the rear wheel well on the drivers side.

@triedaq That reminded me of the story describing Buddy Holly’s trip from Duluth to Green Bay on their 1959 winter dance party before he was killed. Makes you cold just reading about it. They were cold all the time which is why he decided to fly to Fargo from Mason City instead of taking the cold bus.