Ford Focus Engine Block Heater

Help. I have a cousine who moved to Anchorage Alaska. He and his dad bought a used 2003 Ford Focus. He does not know where the cord for the engine block heater is. His new apartment parking lot has a plug on
the wall where he can plug in his car.
Does every new car sold in Alaska come with a block heater?
I did my research on it and found out that it's actually a "freeze plug heater" that keeps the engine coolant warmed and it takes the place of the freeze plug on the engine block itself. My cousine isn't good with cars so he might need a mechanic. What would be a resonable price for the installation of such an item in the Anchorage metro area?
Should the heater be placed on a timer or should it just be pluged in so long as it's freezing outside and the car is parked? It's an apartment so he only "indirectly" pays for electricity which is included in the rent.
Does this heater really extend engine life? Is it worth the hassle?
TIA! East-
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...> Should the heater be placed on a timer or should it just be pluged in

My Focus (Ontario) has it's block heater cord running beside the battery and out through the grill. He could check down between the battery and the fender to see if there's a cord there.
Anchorage is a coastal town, so if his car will only needs to be started there, a block heater may not really be necessary. Quite honestly, I think the two most important things for cold weather starting are a) synthetic oil, which does not gel up in the cold like regular oil and b) a battery warmer. A warm battery will turn over a cold motor, but a frozen battery won't turn a squirrel wheel. It draws so little current (maybe 80 watts) that you can leave it in all night. If the car isn't facing into the wind, it also helps to warm the rest of the engine compartment.
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That's funny. I was told the opposite. The block heater is more important than the battery warmer up to a certain extent until it's cold enough to need to keep the whole engine bay warm.
East-
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With regular oil that's more true. Probably your alternate source was not familiar with synthetic.
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Dave Gower wrote:

I don't believe you. Sure it helps if there is no engine oil jelling. BUT what about the fact that the whole engine block is basically inside a freezer icebox at -20 degrees. At that temperature the metal engine block will contract in size from the cold causing the pistons inside to scrape against the cylinder walls upon cold start up. It will take a minute for two until the metal engine block expands in size to where it's supposed to be at.
East-
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Auto mechanics 101. Pistons are never supposed to touch the cylinder walls. Piston rings do, and they are under spring tension, to keep a reasonable seal. That's why it's important to have oil that can flow even from cold.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

If the pistons are scraping against the cylinder wall, I think you've ruined an engine.
I think the lowest I've ever had to deal with was -14 F. Overnight, I put a trouble light under the hood and a blanket or tarp around the fenders to try and keep as much heat in as possible. Just before going to bed, I went out and started the car, ran the engine for 10 or 15 minues to warm it up.
But that was Michigan, not Alaska.
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In alt.autos.ford.focus snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com:

Dunno, but your cousin could just ask the next Ford dealer and let him check if the car has one at all. The owners manual should have additional info.

A waste of energy, I'd use a timer or some remote control, perhaps starting with an hour before taking off and checking if this is enough or even to much. Depends on how much energy the heater uses and the temperature, so you have to find it out.

Yep, but even more important the heating can be used immediately and fuel consumption drops down a little bit.
Good luck
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Have him check the engine below the intake manifold, (firewall side) it should have a bock heater installed in block, center frost plug.. He will need the car on a hoist or stands to be able to see if there is one. Most domestic products for the North have block heaters installed by the factory. The usual aftermarket cost to install a block heater is around $80.00.Maybe the cord is missing??
Help. I have a cousine who moved to Anchorage Alaska. He and his dad bought a used 2003 Ford Focus. He does not know where the cord for the engine block heater is. His new apartment parking lot has a plug on the wall where he can plug in his car.
Does every new car sold in Alaska come with a block heater?
I did my research on it and found out that it's actually a "freeze plug heater" that keeps the engine coolant warmed and it takes the place of the freeze plug on the engine block itself. My cousine isn't good with cars so he might need a mechanic. What would be a resonable price for the installation of such an item in the Anchorage metro area?
Should the heater be placed on a timer or should it just be pluged in so long as it's freezing outside and the car is parked? It's an apartment so he only "indirectly" pays for electricity which is included in the rent.
Does this heater really extend engine life? Is it worth the hassle?
TIA! East-
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$80 sounds really good. I got the price quote from Ford and they wanted $250 - $275 for parts and labor! Maybe an independent mechanic with experience on such an installation is a better choice.
East-
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Most cars sold in northern tier states will have block heaters installed, but not all. If he's got one, he'll notice the cord. Ford installed one up in North Dakota on my 03 ZTW that I brought from Arizona (didn't want an AZ dealer to install it 'cause didn't think they did many...), and trust me, if U don't notice the plug sticking out (or under) the grill, you'll notice it snaking across the top of the engine after opening the hood! They had real issues getting the plug to seal after plugging it into the freeze plug--I drove around in a crap rental Escort for a few days B4 they got one that sealed up OK. Ford was spectacular and only charged me 4 parts (about $130?)
My first winter there was brutally cold--many days/nights below zero, coldest was -38F ONE AFTERNOON, for cryin' out loud... Wind is not an issue on metal--wind chill factors only work on skin. Parking into the wind will cool the engine down faster (OK, wind is a slight issue...), but once it's reached ambient, metal don't get no colder.
I was lucky and had a garage and I kept the block heater on all night (electricity was free, whoo hooo!) However, if I had to pay for it, I'd have a timer set up for 2-3 hours B4 drive off, as block heaters suck the juice. Also, B aware most block heater posts cycle the outlet power, so you may only get 15 minutes of juice per hour, which works (it's better than nothing).
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Okidiver wrote:

Once flesh reaches ambient, it don't get no colder either. :)
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