How to prepare your car for freezing temperatures

Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder shares a few products that will prepare your car for frigid temps, ensuring that it starts, potentially saving fuel and preventing damaging wear.

When outside temperatures get to around zero degrees Fahrenheit and below, even the a well-maintained car can use a little help!

I'll show you a few products that will prepare your car for truly frigid temps, ensuring that it starts, potentially saving fuel and preventing damaging wear as well.

We hate frigid temperatures, and so does our car. As it gets colder outside, the less power your battery has to turn the engine over and start it. And at the same time the engine itself gets harder for the battery and starter to turn over because the lubricants thicken as they get colder.

The best product you can add to the car to combat subzero temperatures is a block heater. It's an electric heating element that gets installed into a hole in the engine block and sits in the liquid coolant. When you plug it in, it circulates and warms the entire engine.

Another option, though not as effective, might be a better choice depending on the car: It's an inline heater for a lower radiator hose -- all you do is cut the hose, take an inch or two section out of it, and install the heater. When it's plugged in, the heated coolant circulates through the block.

As I mentioned, a cold battery is a weak battery, and there is a solution for that as well: a battery heater blanket. All you need to do is unclamp the battery and wrap the blanket around it and secure it and when you plug it in, it will raise the temperature of the battery to 70 degrees.

With this and the other products, the goal is to route the cords away from hot and moving parts toward the front of the engine compartment, or even through the grille. Once you plug it in it takes only a few hours before everything is warm enough to start.

Each of these three products cost less than $30 apiece, it’s really more about the installation. We did this battery blanket in about 15 minutes because it’s very easy to access. The other heaters require the engine coolant to be drained and refilled and will require an hour or two of labor charges if you bring it to a professional. Some cars -- and installers -- take longer than others.

© 2018 Cars.com


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