Whether in the dead of winter or in preparation for a race down the drag strip, the notion of ‘warming up’ the engine is a time-honored ritual for the auto enthusiast. Anyone who has spent extended time in colder climates is familiar with a formulaic recipe for the perfect warm up time period for their car. ‘Warming up the car’ refers to the process of starting a car engine, and allowing it to idle for a period of time until the engine has reached operating temperature. This is a popular, but ultimately inefficient, way to increase engine block temperature via the processes of fluid circulation and controlled combustion. Idling the car for a while prior to driving is good for the car, because it raises the engine temperature before you start to strain your motor more heavily by driving your vehicle. Engine oil, gasoline, and coolant, are less viscous and flow with less resistance when they are warmer which ultimately offers more protection once you start to drive.
While most people have this understanding of the warm up procedure, few understand just how beneficial it is. It is well known that most engine wear occurs when the engine is cold. This is exacerbated when you drive the car under these conditions. Furthermore, the colder the climate, the longer it takes to get your car up to operating temperature and as such, people that reside in areas with colder climates where it snows and temperatures routinely dip below freezing are at the highest risk for increased engine wear. In climates that are especially cold, it can sometimes be difficult to get a car started at all.
Fortunately, there are portable heating devices that warm an engine block while the car is turned off which has the benefit of making your car easier to start as well as reducing engine wear caused by cold starts. When the car is then started, the fluids in the engine block are warm enough to circulate freely, thereby providing better lubrication for your internal engine components. Portable engine heaters have a few different design forms including engine blankets, dipstick heaters, bolt-on block heaters, in-line coolant heaters, and oil pain heaters. Whether for the seasoned winter auto driver, the cold weather tractor farmer, or the drag race aficionado whose car sits for a while in between races, engine block heating has become a common practice for decreasing, and all but eliminating, cold start wear.
The Best Engine Block Heater
The Kat’s 1160 300-Watt Magnum Handi-Heat Magnetic Heater is the best engine block heater on the market today in terms of efficiency and cost. This device boasts a strong magnet for universal application on cars, light and heavy-duty trucks, vans, and SUVs. While only weighing in at 1.1 lbs, the Kat’s 1160 can heat approximately 20 square inches of engine block surface area. It can easily be attached to metallic oil pans, engine blocks, battery holders, or intake manifolds. One need only attach the unit to the optimal engine block region, plug the electrical cord into a nearby outlet, and run the heater prior to starting the engine.
Run times will vary depending on outside temperatures and desired effect. In regions where outdoor temperatures are cold enough to freeze radiator coolant, the Kat’s 1160 can warm coolant overnight to prevent a cracked block from occurring. What makes the Kat’s 1160 300-Watt Magnum Handi-Heat Magnetic Heater the best engine block heater is not only the fact that it improves engine performance in cold weather, but that it minimizes the need to idle the engine prior to operation. This quality goes a long way in terms of prolonging the life of the engine and fluid hose components.
As far as where to buy, Amazon’s attractive pricing makes them pretty darn tough to beat and as such, we’d recommend starting your search there. Overall, the Kat’s 1160 300-Watt Magnum Handi-Heat Magnetic Heater is a great investment, and we think you’ll be very satisfied. Happy wrenching!