Originally Posted by cpaharley2008
Wow, that is cold, do you guys leave your vehicles plugged in at night with engine heaters?
It is routine for vehicles sold in at least some parts of Canada to be equipped with engine heaters (like an option that is already chosen for you), but I haven't plugged in for years. In colder areas (e.g. Alberta, Northern Ontario) it is common for employee parking lots, apartment parking lots, and some paid parking facilities to have power outlets for them... but most cars in them are not plugged in.
Starting warmer is better for the engine, more comfortable in the interior, and quicker to have effective defrosting, but it is not perfect:
- the heaters usually heat only the coolant (or in some cases one area of the block), so the oil is not warm at startup (but gets warm quickly)
- the transmission is not warmed at all
- the interior is still just as cold (but warms up faster because the heater produces heater sooner)
- very cold extension cords are a pain to deal with
- some sort of timer is required or overnight use is mostly wasted energy
My car is at full operating temperature in about 5 minutes from starting (and immediately driving off) even in today's -26 degree C weather, so an engine heater is really just a headstart on that.
A recent trend is for people to use remote starters with a thermostatically-controlled keep-warm feature which starts the engine to idle for a while whenever the temperature gets low enough in a parked vehicle. This, of course, consumes fuel; it is also freaky when the truck you are borrowing starts itself in the driveway at midnight (been there, seen that). I asked someone in the Northwest Territories about this, given the high local cost of fuel, and his response was "have you seen the price of electricity here?"
The end of the engine heater cord in my Focus tore apart when I unplugged it (which required a lot of force) a few years ago, and I have never been sufficiently motivated to replace it during warm weather... so I can't use it. If it were still functional, I would have plugged in last night; however, I still wouldn't have plugged in more than a few times this year.