Block heater info.

Discussion in 'Chevy Suburban Forum (GMC Yukon XL)' started by Tachyon, Feb 11, 2007.

  1. Tachyon

    Tachyon Rockstar 100 Posts

    Hey all,

    We may be moving VERY far north and I'm researching block heating options.

    I'm from northern Ontario originally, so I'm not new to cold start problems, however in the past I always just bought vehicles with factory block heaters.

    In this case, we'll be upgrading the Suburban for cold weather use in Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada. (info here FYI)

    Here's my info and my plan for you to comment on.

    1988 Chevy Suburban Silverado 4x4 with TBI 350, and TH700R4 Automatic (built with proper valve-body upgrades etc.)

    My intention is to install a tank type heater and an electric battery blanket.

    The tank type heater is the kind that splices into the heater hose circuit and heats and circulates the coolant through the engine block. There's an example of one here.

    Battery Blanket picture

    I also plan to move the vehicle to all synthetic lubricants. I use oil already and I like it's performance. Also it's flow characterists at low temperatures are superior to conventional oil. I've seen that with our diesel mercedes in cold weather. The cranking amps went down considerably after moving it to Mobil one. I'm going to move the other fluids (tranny, differentials, etc.) to mobil or Amsoil.
    I've used the battery blanket along with a stock block heater (feeze plug type) with my other vehicles but the freeze plug heaters are marginal in real cold (ie < -20 f). In theory the tank heaters seem like a better idea to me. But I wanted to ask if anyone has any real experience with these units.
    Do they work well enough for real cold situations? I'm also worried that they might impede heater core flow and therefore function. As much as I want my engine warm, I'm more worried about the people in the cab! ;')

    Any other comments or suggestions also appreciated.
  2. Cableguy

    Cableguy Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I've tried the battery blanket and it works great. The coolant heater I've never seen before but it makes perfect sense. Low volume, warm coolant moving around, synthetic oil...WOW. I don't think you do much more prevention than that. Way to go. N.W.T. here we come.
  3. Cableguy

    Cableguy Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    oh and by the way I have had problems with block heater thing popping out. So your far better off up there avoiding playing with frost plugs.
  4. Tachyon

    Tachyon Rockstar 100 Posts

    Cold weather trip tips.

    I'm thinking this post might be more useful overall to more people if we expand it to include general extreme conditions preparartion.

    I've lived in the north enough to know the safety stuff, like having an emergency kit, blanket, etc. but I think a lot of us may not know or recall all the proper vehicle preparations for travelling in extreme weather.

    Note: I still want to hear more input on experiences with the heating options in my original post.

    I'll start the other part of the discussion.

    Help me complete my personal check list.

    - Check and change all fluids as necessary. Convert to synthetic where possible.

    - change and properly mix anti-freeze/coolant.

    - check belts and hoses and replace as necessary

    - check tires, air up to spec

    - carry spare fuses, hose patch kit, emergency belt kit, tire inflator can, heat packs (like for hunter's hands).

    - Sterno fuel cans (aside from one's in emergecny kit) for emergency block/pan heat.

    - coffee type cans and tin snips for various jury rigging, tools!, shovel
  5. unplugged

    unplugged Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    More for the emergency list

    You might want to have different lists for different climates. Anyway in light of the recent tragic events leading to the recent death of James Kim when traveling with his family in Oregon, one should never forget to have food and water in the car.

    Here are a few of the things I take along or carry in my 'survival pack'

    - water. Two gallons per person.
    - food. Jerky, chips, or crackers, dried fruit. Foil packed tuna is great too.
    - jumper cables
    - tow strap
    - tire plugging kit
    - folding saw
    - mirror (for signaling)
    - gloves
    - big floppy hat
    - folding knife
    - waterproof matches
    - road flares
    - surplus parachute (great shade and easier to spot from the air)
  6. robotic_t

    robotic_t New Member

    Emerg Kit

    Maybe in light of all suggested items one might think to put in the ol crappy trash 9.99 air compressor to go with the tire plug kit (tires due seem to become low on air in the colder climates. Or at least one of those hose's with two female ends on it so you can steal a little air from the other three tires. Not 100% sure but i dont believe i saw flashlight on any of those list's
  7. ultramegabob

    ultramegabob New Member

    block heater...

    sounds like you got all the bases coverd, i used to have a work truck with a block heater like that, and never noticed any heater core problems, i also have seen dipstick style heaters that warm your engine oil to keep it from becoming too thick, allowing your engine to turn over easier in extreame cold....

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