Most vehicles include engines that already have a block heater installed. If this is not the case, the block heater is essentially the alternative of the freeze plug which is found in most engines. The main responsibility of the freeze plug is to drain antifreeze from the engine block. This is done to prevent the block from cracking and getting damaged. The engine block heater basically does the same thing as the freeze plug does as it keeps the antifreeze above freezing temperature during cold weather. This allows your vehicle to drain the antifreeze and start easily. This is not crucial during the summer months but is a requirement for all vehicles to start up and run safely during the winter months.
Examining the Block Heater
If you would like to see how the block heater works the best way of doing so is to physically examine the block heater in your vehicle. Sure, you can find pictures of a block heater but it is not the same as actually looking at one in person. If you are not experienced with mechanical work then you may not want to bother but it is not difficult to locate and examine the block heater.
Step 1 – Find the Engine Block
The first thing you will have to do is find the engine block in your vehicle. This will be located somewhere in the engine section under your vehicle's engine bonnet. The engine block's top should be located roughly near the cylinders that hold the compression reaction within them.
Step 2 – Prepare your Vehicle
Once you have located the engine block you will be ready to set up your vehicle to further examine the engine block and block heater. To prepare your vehicle you will first have to lift the front end off the ground. Use a car jack to do this. Obviously someone without any mechanical experience will most likely not have these tools, but this is necessary if you want to get easy access to the engine block.
Step 3 – Examining the Engine Block
By now you have already seen the top of the engine block but there is not too much to see there at the moment. After you have lifted the front end of your car off the ground (via a car jack) you can look at the bottom of the engine block. To do this you will just need to lie down on the ground or on a dolly or similar item.
Step 4 – Detailed Examination
You do not want to just take a quick look. Instead, you want to examine all the parts within the engine block. The first thing you should do while under your vehicle is locate the freeze plug. This will be somewhere in the coolant tract which is within the engine block. The tract travels from the radiator then through the engine block in various special chambers and cylinder chambers but it eventually travels back to the radiator. Once it returns to the radiator it will be ready to be turned into engine heat.
Continue your examination of the engine block by looking for the extension. This should be located lower than the freeze plug. The extension is in fact the block heater that is used for your vehicle. There may be a cable going out of the extension. If there is a cable then locating the extension should not be difficult as you can follow the cable to the extension. However, this is a rather rare inclusion as the cable is most common with only a few select vehicle designs. For instance, the cable may be found in a vehicle with a cold weather set up but the block heater is just installed in place in diesel vehicles.
The block heater may not be in the exact place that you expect it to be. The freeze plug may also be difficult to find. You will have to do a bit of looking around and following parts to find exactly where the block heater is located. With this information you will now have a general idea of how the block heater works, where it is located, and what parts are included in the particular area it is located. You could also use this information for replacing or installing a block heater in your vehicle. However, you may want to look for an installation guide so you do not make any serious mistakes.