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FOOTDOC

Cold Weather Car Advice

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Heading up to LOTW this weekend in a 99 suburban with 80,000 miles. It does not get as cold here in Indiana as LOTW and in looking at the LOTW forecast, it is suppose to get to -20 degrees. I just got a new battery and I think the antifreeze is suppose to be good to 100,000 miles. Is it worth while to get one of those dip stick heaters for this trip? Any advice is appreciated!

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FootDoc
I can tell you there are not very many vehicles in Northern Minn, ND, Mont, Wis that do NOT have a frost plug heater or tank heater. They just come with them or the dealer puts them in. Don't know what it would cost you for a frost plug heater, but at -20F your vehicle is going to start MUCH better. Most motels have electrical plug-ins for these heaters. It is just an accepted fact of life here. Oil dipstick heaters are a joke.

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I wouldn't sweat it. She'll start at -20. If you are concerned, start the vehicle every couple hours.

Marmot

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If your battery is new and strong, you should have no trouble, even at -20. You might want to consider new oil for the trip and make sure your antifreeze reservoir is full to the cold line. I'd say, too, that the dipstick heaters are pretty useless. I've seen some magnetic units that hook to your oil pan that have worked. If it's really cold, you'll know in a few seconds if your truck will start or not. Don't keep grinding or you'll cause problems with gas going down your cylinders. I'd bring a battery charger if you had one. You could hook up for 30 minutes on a really cold day and that would help. Also, when you're out on the ice, park with the back of your Sub into the wind. That makes a big difference. And it's not a bad idea to have a couple bottles of gasline antifreeze, too. An easy way to remember what to get: red bottle to absorb water and yellow bottle if you're already frozen.

[This message has been edited by IFallsRon (edited 12-31-2003).]

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Your vehicle has an electronic ignition and fuel injection. If you have a good battery you should have no problem starting your vehicle. I've lived up in northeast MN for many years and I have only plugged my truck in one time and that was in 1995 when the temp dipped to -47 with a high of -20.

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You should make sure that your antifreeze is good to at least -20.
Just becuase it is good to 100,000 doesn't neccessarily mean its good to -20.
In some states they do not put enough antifreeze in the coolant system that is needed in the colder states.

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At 80,000 miles it wouldn't be a bad Idea to have the spark plugs checked for wear. They should be a/c delco platinum plugs and should be good for around 100,000 miles but if there worn out it ain't going to start. Also see alot of guys replacing the a/c delco plugs with the bosch platinums. they are JUNK and guarantee a cold weather no start. as far as the isopropyl in the gas tank, just fill up in minnesota (there's already ethanol in the gas and will absorb any moisture -wich is unlikely anyways- in your tank. good luck

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What's in the crank case? Go w/ 10w30 or even better, 5w30. Stay away from 10w40 - it will be stiff as grease in grease gun at -20.

Also - heres a trick for getting your vehicle started - assuming its outside overnight and not plugged in. Take your battery out, and then bring it indoors. Its a pain the butt to do, but its plumb amazing how much more cranking power a battery has that is as warm as indoors - vs - one that sat outside all night. Even the warmth of a fishhouse would help.

UG

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It'll probably start OK. It's a suburban. If it doesn't, somebody will have a pair of jumper cables, and they will help you out. It's Minnesota after all.

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It doesn't matter squat whether you park into the wind or down wind. All the wind will do is cool you off faster. If it's -10 outside, the wind can't make it colder than -10, it just cools warm things faster than if if were calm, but the ultimate temp your block is cooled to, if the outside temp is -10, will still be -10.

Don't worry about the wind chill factor if you're concerned about your vehicle. Wind chill is a composite of temp and wind, and really only describes how FAST the wind robs a warm thing of warmth.

Truly, if the temp is 10 degrees and the wind is 40 mph, the wind can't cool anything colder than 10 degrees, but the wind will cool everything to 10 degrees FASTER than if it were calm.

------------------
"Worry less, fish more."
Steve Foss
[email protected]

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When it gets down to –10 and I am out on the lake I make sure to start my truck every hour or so and let it get good and warm, at –30 I don’t even shut it off unless it is in the garage. This system has never let me down; just don’t forget to start of with a full tank of gas. wink.gif

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Isopropal in your gas, jumper cables, tow rope, cell phone, good battery, antifreeze up to par, 5w30 oil and start it a few times a day and run it for 20 minutes or more.

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You can get a block heater for about 20 bucks and install it yourself...not to diffucult..its worth the hassle.

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Another tip learned from the school of hard knocks.

Get any kind of fluids out from the interior of your car. I had to leave my luggage in my SUV once at LOW in the cold- had to switch rooms at the motel-and everything froze SOLID. And I mean SOLID!

I arrived back at the end of the ice fishing day and it looked like snow in the car. All the windows were closed. The pop freezing broke the seal on the container and squirted beverage into the air and it must have froze. Weird. And no I was not drinking!

Toothpaste, shampoo, all froze solid. Was not thawed by the next morning either. Man, it was cold that day. Great fishing though.

Have a good trip.

[This message has been edited by walleyehawk (edited 01-01-2004).]

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If you are coming from IL make sure to stop and have your oil changed somewhere around Duluth tell them where you are going and they will take care of it. 10w30 oil is good.
Another alternative to the block heaters are the magnetic oil pan heaters they work real well and can be taken from vehicle to vehicle. One got me going at -45
Make sure an entire tune up is on the check list.
Good luck on your trip up and I hope you enjoy Minnesota.

------------------
en kala
(I fish)

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Stfcatfish is right about the wind only being able to cool something down to the outside temp, but there are radiative affects from the ground, battery, engine, exhaust system, sun...etc. Therefore, never park you vehicle facing into the wind when it gets cold out. I actually placed thermocouples around the engine compartment to prove this to another fellow one time and it's amazing how much heat gets trapped under the hood even after extended periods of time under very cold temps.

If you have 10W40 even 10W30 I would change that out to 5W30. The viscosity of 5W30 is the best over the greatest temperature range compared to other oils. For short periods we've even used 0W0 because it was so freakin cold. When you start your engine at -30F with 10W30 you would swear your rods and crankshaft are being twisted into a pretzel.

The battery idea with taking it inside overnight is a life saver at times if you want to start the vehicle in the morning. You will have a lot more CCA's with a warm battery. I did this when I went to school in Grand Forks and did not drive very often. Also, make sure the battery is strong and not old and underpowered.

Check your serpentine belt for cracks and being worn. If you have a lot of cracks in the belt it doesn't take much for the thing to shred into many pieces since it does not want to flex at those temps.

And as many others stated, check the temp for your cooling system.

AAA and a cell phone is also a nice bonus if you still run into problems. Things don't want to work well in cold weather so don't tromp on the accelerator right away and allow the vehicle to warm up before driving it.

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