Covering Grill in front of Radiator when Very Cold.

I live in a city that can be bitterly cold in Winter in Alberta. I see a small number of passenger vehicles and quite a few trucks that cover their front grills with a type
of cloth when the weather is very cold, minus -15 to minus-35 degrees in winter. Obviously this must be to prevent the cold air from being drawn through the radiator by the fan or even if the fan is not pulling in cold air just the forward movement of the vehicle drawing in cold air.
These cloth grill covers have a flap or flaps in the center that you can open and close. I am interested in purchasing one of these. Can the car overheat if the flap is closed for too long? At what minus temperature can you keep the flap closed all the time. At what minus temperature must you make sure that the flap is open.
Thanks in advance Denny B
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there is no outdoor temp you go by to open or close the grill cover. you go by the engine temp gauge in your car, and find a happy medium
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Yeah. When you leave it closed in the summer, it is closed for too long.

Actually, it is at plus temperatures. It is not the outside temperature that guides your behavior, but the engine temperature. You know the temperature gage in your car? When it starts to rise above normal, it is time to open the flaps or take it off.
Actually, what if a rough idea of when you would want to put it on (say when the temperature reaches 20 degrees F), you take it off in the spring (or, in Canada, I imgaine early summer) when it gets to the same temp. Likewise, if you close the slots at 0 F, then you open them in the spring went the temp warms up to 0 F.

When the engine starts to get warmer than normal while you are driving around.
Jeff

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I have a 96 Sable and have had problems starting the car in very cold temperatures, I assumed it was either my battery or gas line, I never thought about the cold air going through my grill that causing the problem. What procedures and material does the group recommend.
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car from starting. Left over night everything on your car will drop to ambient temperature. Wind will only cool things down untill they reach ambient temp. Gas line antifeeze and a tune up should do the trick. I live in Ontario and my car would start in minus 40c. Good luck, Gerry.

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The reason for covering the grill would be so that the car warms up faster and provides more cabin heat. This is because there would be less air getting into the engine compartment, so the radiator and coolant would be hotter than if there were going through the radiator.
Obviously, one would have to watch the engine temp to make sure it does not get too hot.
Jeff
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says...

One thing to remember: The 'grill' on many cars is little more than decorative. Most of the cooling comes from vents BELOW the bumper! On some Chrysler Sebrings, that large grill is fake. It's solid black plastic!
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Here where -(yes minus) 30degrees is common I'm not talking about a plastic decorative cover. I'm talking about the real thing a cover to cover the radiatior to shield it from the cold.
Denny
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======================Does the car warm up and stay warm? I have NO experiance with -30 temps but it seams if the t-stat is working you shouldnt need a cover over the radiator.
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I think the theory is that you block air from blowing over the engine itself while driving, supposedly helping it to warm up faster, or stay warm in very cold temperatures. It won't make much of a difference sitting still, and could cause overheating if it sits long enough for the fan to kick on and it can't pull enough air.
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temps but

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You have the right idea above, also my fan is on all the time it is not temperature controlled it's an older car.
By the way my wife made the cover for my car grill from vinyl two pieces sewn together. I have had it on foir two days and it is working just fine. It has a flap in the center 6x3 inches I can open if need be. Today it is minus 23 degrees here and I drove with the flap closed no problem. I drove on the freeway 100km/hr with it closed no overheating.
I hope we all know what it is like to live and drive vehicles when the temp is below minus 20 degrees. With the wind chill factor today taken into account it was minus 35 degrees. I spent 5 hours today in another part of the city because a water main burst and the whole NE of the city was without water. No fun here in winter.
Denny
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(...)

But the wind chill doesn't effect the car temp. I mean, when you go 100 km/hr, the wind is going through the radiator at 100 km/hr, regardless of the wind chill.
My car ('97 Ford Contour) heats up fast whether it is 0 F or 50 F, so I doubt a radiator thing would help it warm up much faster.
It doesn't even take more much time to throw heat at 0 degress than say 30 degrees.
Jeff
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A modern mufti cylinder internal combustion engine produces enough heat to destroy itself in a short period of time. We design in a liquid cooling system to prevent that from occurring. The cooling system must take away the tremendous heat from around the valves faster than it can be produced. When one starts an engine the temperate around the valve quickly builds to several hundred degrees and must be dissipated to the coolant. The coolant is circulated around the radiator by the closed thermostat, that has one purpose, and that is to stay closed until the coolant reaches a predetermined temperature at which the thermostat opens and allows coolant to enter the radiator to dissipate coolant heat to the atmosphere. For example if the vehicle is moving allowing air to flow through the closed radiator and over the engine, a 190 degree thermostat will not cause the engine to heat any faster than a 180 degree thermostat. Engineers discovered many years ago, during the search for CAFE improvements, that a fan powered by a belt and running all the time was wasting energy and fuel. Nearly all engines in today's vehicles have a thermostatically controlled fan to blow air over the radiator when positive air flow is needed such as at idle or when the extra heat of the AC system is added. I know from personal experience it is certainly possible for a small 4cy aluminum engine moving at highway speeds with low ambient temperature air passing over the engine to not produce enough heat to reach the radiator thermostats operating temperature. If that is the case restricting the flow over the engine will allow enough heat to be produced to allow the coolant temperature to rise to the radiators thermostats design temperature.
mike hunt
Jeff wrote:

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Cool! I did not know you were an automotive engineer!
You sound like one. You are able to tell us a bunch of stuff without answering the question.
The bottom line is that covering a radiator will allow the engine to heat up faster. How much depends on the car.
Jeff
<Engineering crap deleted.>
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snipped-for-privacy@sprint.ca says...

What I was saying is that what we see as the grill is only a small portion of the airflow on many cars. Blocking that may not drop airflow enough to affect engine cooling.
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than
On some

plastic!
I am aware of the above but that is not what I am dealing with here.
Denny
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Denny,
It is a common practice. Even more common than you might suspect. If you take a look at some of the trucks that look like they have no cover over the grill, you may find that there is a piece of cardboard between the grill and the radiator. That is what I do with my 78 pickup. Just slip a piece of cardboard there and you get more warmth to your toes. No cardboard - colder air.
Most of the people on this list probably live in warmer climates than we do (-32C in Edmonton this morning ... -47C with the "wind chill") so may not have a lot of experience with this. I grew up in Grande Prairie, which is usually 5 to 10 degrees colder than Edmonton and believe me, everyone had either a piece of cardboard or a vinyl grill cover on their cars. More modern cars may have more effective heating systems, but an 81 Fairlane and 78 1/2 ton can both benefit from a bit of a wind break in the winter ( and I wish I had some cardboard on my 97 Taurus this morning). Don't worry about overheating - just take the cover off in the spring. The flaps on some covers allow for some laziness. If you get a chinook or something and it goes up to -10 or -5, you can just open the flaps and not have to remove the cover, cause temps will probably drop again. It IS January and we DO live in Alberta....
Hope this helps.
Eric in Edmonton
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Hi Eric, Nice discussing this with somebody who is familiar with cold climates and what we have to put up with. It was -30C here in calgary today -42C wind chill. I did not even attempt to drive my car today. Took a bus and C train to work. I have the vinyl cover on my grill and it will remain on. I took a guess when I told my wife what size to sew it. After trying it out I know it works. If the temp goes up as you say I will open the flap and I will remove it in spring.
Denny B

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