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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
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  #1  
Old 12-03-2005, 05:36 PM
cleverbear cleverbear is offline
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Cold weather starts and no possibility of a block heater

I was disappointed to find out there is no possibility of having a blockheater in the new 330i. I live in Calgary Alberta where the winters are relatively mild by Canadian standards. However I do drive to Saskatchewan on occasion in the winter where -40C/F is not uncommon. Leaving a car out in this weather for 8 or 10 hours and then starting it with no block heater is a problem to stay the least. It damages the engine to some extent in my opinion. Do any of the Canadian drivers/ northern US drivers on this forum have any comments about this? I am thinking seriously about buying the car but this is a concern for me.
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2005, 06:07 PM
68shark 68shark is offline
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Welcome from Toronto! I'm a "newbie" also, just discovering this forum recently.

My '03 and all current BMW's use synthetic oil. Don't know if you have experience with this product, but right down into the minus 30's (C) (as cold as it got here the last couple of winters), my car fires up without complaint. Slightly slower than normal due to the battery being very cold, but not like other cars I've owned that would barely turn over. As you probably know, Toronto isn't an area where people typically buy block heaters. I have had them on a couple of other cars and used them on very cold nights. Those cars all had regular oil though and that is a big difference. Even 5W30 thickens up when cold and will make the engine much tougher to turn over. The synthetic stays thin to very very low temperatures.

The block heater doesn't help the battery at all. It simply keeps the oil warm so that it doesn't turn to sludge making it all but impossible to start your car. The synthetic oil standard in the BMW eliminates that issue as it stays thin on it's own.

In summary, they don't sell one, because you won't need one.
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  #3  
Old 12-03-2005, 06:56 PM
govtec govtec is offline
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i am not familiar with the term block heater? explain please on the function of this device. thanks
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  #4  
Old 12-03-2005, 07:24 PM
68shark 68shark is offline
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It's an electric heating element which is inserted into the engine block, with a cord. It's purpose is to keep the engine oil warm, such that in zero F and colder temperatures a car will start easier. At minus 40 (F and C are the same at this point), most cars (without synthetic oil or block heater), will not start.

Certain parts of Canada, as well as midwest US, commonly equip most cars with this device. Parking lots in these same locales are equipped with cords to plug vehicles in while working, shopping or whatever.

In certain parts of the country, ie. the prairie provinces where frigid temperatures are normal in winter, if you can't plug your car in, your other option is to leave it running.

No, I'm not kidding!
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  #5  
Old 12-03-2005, 07:42 PM
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obmd1 obmd1 is offline
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when I was little my dad had a dipstick heater...

which as I write this won't help the e90...

nevermind... move along

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  #6  
Old 12-03-2005, 10:03 PM
govtec govtec is offline
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i've never seen or heard of this cord device in public or tv before.
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  #7  
Old 12-03-2005, 10:08 PM
ViperSSD ViperSSD is offline
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go to pretty much any manfacturer's website, gm, chrysler, etc.. and there is an option for an engine block heater on pretty much all of their cars
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  #8  
Old 12-03-2005, 10:55 PM
jcl10 jcl10 is offline
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I used to use block heaters (I lived in Northern Alberta) but haven't for some time.

Reading up on BMW's recommendations, it appears that they have one (for the diesels, makes sense) but that they don't recommend one for the gasoline models. I don't have any heating devices on any of my current BMWs, but I am in Vancouver now and only occasionally park outside in very cold areas (Kootenay mountains)

I agree that although synthetic oils will help a lot, it still seems very hard on the car to start it up at extreme cold temperatures without some heat.

If it was important to you, you could consider the installation of an oil pan heater. These are inexpensive small rectangular pads that are affixed to the outside of the oil pan, usually about 400 watts, and they keep the oil warm. Moroso makes one; you will find them at any shop working with customers further north than Calgary, particularly those doing diesel work. Google oil pan heater, and see what you find.

On the battery issue, the slow cranking is due to the reduced cranking amps available at low temps, and the increased oil thickness. The first can be addressed with a battery blanket, but be cautious. The battery location will make it harder to install a battery heater.

Good luck.
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  #9  
Old 12-04-2005, 07:01 AM
richyz richyz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by govtec
i've never seen or heard of this cord device in public or tv before.
You would have if you lived in Alaska or North Dakota instead of PA.
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  #10  
Old 12-04-2005, 08:37 AM
futuremd33 futuremd33 is offline
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Wow I learn something new everyday... I didn't know there was such a thing.
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  #11  
Old 12-04-2005, 02:03 PM
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uter uter is offline
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Had one for my '83 E28 when living in Minnesota. It made a world of difference
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  #12  
Old 12-04-2005, 03:28 PM
jelliotlevy jelliotlevy is offline
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Clearly, BMW does not provide a factory block heater. An alternative, if it can be rigged up, is to cut into a main radiator hose, and add a splice which contains a heater element, and a 120 volt extension cord. Not sure if that can be done without voiding the warranty, but it might be worth looking in to.
Many years ago, I had a VW Rabbit diesel with a built in block heater. I did not need it, since the car was garaged (Boston area),but I did test it out a couple of times. It was great, since the engine was warm enough on a cold morning to be able to produce heat almost immediately on start up.

My guess is that the E90 engine will be fine, except on the very coldest days. Absent a blcok heater, one can go out at about midnight, and start the engine and idle it for several minutes. Then go out again at about 6am, and it should be willing to start again.

We need to be kind to our friends from Alberta. Those tar sands will become a major source of our petroleum supply, outside of the volatile Arab world. It just gets so darn cold in Canada!
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  #13  
Old 12-04-2005, 03:51 PM
Storm7 Storm7 is offline
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Thumbs up Block Heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverbear
I was disappointed to find out there is no possibility of having a blockheater in the new 330i. I live in Calgary Alberta where the winters are relatively mild by Canadian standards. However I do drive to Saskatchewan on occasion in the winter where -40C/F is not uncommon. Leaving a car out in this weather for 8 or 10 hours and then starting it with no block heater is a problem to stay the least. It damages the engine to some extent in my opinion. Do any of the Canadian drivers/ northern US drivers on this forum have any comments about this? I am thinking seriously about buying the car but this is a concern for me.
===========================
I grew up in Timmins, Ontario (Shania Twain area) All of our vehicles had block heaters as far back as I can recall. (Small heater permanently inserted into the engine block and plugged into an electrical outlet overnight or timed to come on about one or two hours in the morning prior to needing to start the vehicle). I purchased a 2004 325i and was quite surprised to lean you cannot install a block heater. I still live in Northern Ontario and we easily reach -20 and as low as -40 on occassion. My 2004 started every time without a hickup - which really did surprise me. When I got my 2006, I asked if I could get a block heater for it and same answer - No - do not make em. I feel confident the 2006 will not have any problems starting. My wife purchased a 2006 Pontiac G6 and the block heater was standard equipment in Norther Ontario. If your really worried about it - I don't know if they still make them - used to be able to get a battery warmer which you could plug in - idea is to keep the battery warm and it should help crank easier. The joys of living in Colder Climates. I really think when you get a new BMW, they should toss in 3 years of two weeks vacation in Monteray California.

Last edited by Storm7; 12-04-2005 at 03:53 PM.
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  #14  
Old 12-04-2005, 04:47 PM
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  #15  
Old 12-04-2005, 07:03 PM
cleverbear cleverbear is offline
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thanks to everyone for replying to my question about the block heater

Thanks to everyone for replying to my question about block heaters in the 330i. It is really nice to hear where people are from and what their experiences are regarding cars and cold weather. Having grown up in Saskatchewan, there are so many stories I could tell about the winters. I am sure we could keep our neighbours to the south amused for hours. Thanks to everyone who offered specific suggestions. It is reassuring to know that there is an obvious difference when you use synthetic oil. I will look into the oil pan heater and also see what I can find out about the radiator hose alternative. All the best to all of you and have yourselves a Merry Christmas!
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  #16  
Old 12-04-2005, 09:05 PM
neill neill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleverbear
Having grown up in Saskatchewan, there are so many stories I could tell about the winters. I am sure we could keep our neighbours to the south amused for hours.
You mean like when you go out to your car and it is so cold that the seats are frozen solid and don't even compress when you sit on 'em, and the car makes a Wuhhhhh wuhhh wuhhhh sound as it tries to turn over even when it has been plugged in, and once you do start driving, the tires go "Whump, whump whump," from being flat spotted from being frozen in place?

I know that some of the cars we have transferred from the Sask dealers had some form of heater installed, but not sure if it was an oil pan heater or true block heater. I will try to get some more info from them and let you know......
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  #17  
Old 12-25-2005, 09:13 PM
laserneedle laserneedle is offline
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You can buy an engine heater made specifically for almost any BMW make through DEFA, a Scandinavian based company. I have a contact type block heater installed in my X5 and I use a batterytender to keep the battery warm. Hope this helps.
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  #18  
Old 12-25-2005, 09:49 PM
govtec govtec is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laserneedle
You can buy an engine heater made specifically for almost any BMW make through DEFA, a Scandinavian based company. I have a contact type block heater installed in my X5 and I use a batterytender to keep the battery warm. Hope this helps.
does ur engine heater heats only the engine and not the interior?
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  #19  
Old 12-26-2005, 09:53 AM
laserneedle laserneedle is offline
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I just have the engine heater. There is a Defa warmup system which includes an interior heater, battery charger and digital timer. For the most part, my car warms up pretty quickly without the interior heater option because the engine is already pretty warm.
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  #20  
Old 12-26-2005, 09:56 AM
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obmd1 obmd1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neill
You mean like when you go out to your car and it is so cold that the seats are frozen solid and don't even compress when you sit on 'em, and the car makes a Wuhhhhh wuhhh wuhhhh sound as it tries to turn over even when it has been plugged in, and once you do start driving, the tires go "Whump, whump whump," from being flat spotted from being frozen in place?
.
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  #21  
Old 12-26-2005, 04:01 PM
govtec govtec is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laserneedle
I just have the engine heater. There is a Defa warmup system which includes an interior heater, battery charger and digital timer. For the most part, my car warms up pretty quickly without the interior heater option because the engine is already pretty warm.
hey laser, i am only interested in the interior warm up rather than the engine warm up. with ur engine heater do u have to plug it in a power outlet or is this done remotely like u press a remote button and it starts the engine warm up on its own? also, since this is a scandinavian product and it doesn't list any distributors in the states, who installed ur engine heater? or was this a diy project? if u had it professionally installed who did it for u? thanks
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  #22  
Old 12-26-2005, 09:49 PM
laserneedle laserneedle is offline
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You can buy just the interior warmer for the X5 without getting the engine heater. Looking at the Defa manual, the interior warmer doesn't seem difficult to install.www.defa.com The Defa(Waeco) system needs to be plugged in. The Webasto system, which can be operated by remote, is powered by the cars fuel and battery. There is a Webasto system for the X5 petrol but it is not cheap.(expect to pay up to $1600 for system and installation!) and you really have to know what you're doing to install this. I believe the X5 diesel comes equipped with the webasto. Bottom line, would I like to have a webasto parking heater, yes. Would I pay the current asking price, no. A parking heater might be a good investment for someone who lives in a very cold climate and does not have access to an electrical outlet to plug in a regular engine heater. I ordered the Defa system from Nimarcks, a distributor out of Germany: http://stores.ebay.de/NiMarks-Shop.
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  #23  
Old 12-27-2005, 10:19 AM
govtec govtec is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laserneedle
You can buy just the interior warmer for the X5 without getting the engine heater. Looking at the Defa manual, the interior warmer doesn't seem difficult to install.www.defa.com The Defa(Waeco) system needs to be plugged in. The Webasto system, which can be operated by remote, is powered by the cars fuel and battery. There is a Webasto system for the X5 petrol but it is not cheap.(expect to pay up to $1600 for system and installation!) and you really have to know what you're doing to install this. I believe the X5 diesel comes equipped with the webasto. Bottom line, would I like to have a webasto parking heater, yes. Would I pay the current asking price, no. A parking heater might be a good investment for someone who lives in a very cold climate and does not have access to an electrical outlet to plug in a regular engine heater. I ordered the Defa system from Nimarcks, a distributor out of Germany: http://stores.ebay.de/NiMarks-Shop.
in that case the defa waeco system would not work for me since the car would be parked outside and won't have access to power to plug in. i just got off the phone from the nearest webasto installer and so far he's trying to find out if there is an adaptor for my 06 325xi to be installed. the cost will be $1400 installed, if it is available. i'll keep u updated.
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  #24  
Old 12-28-2005, 09:05 PM
laserneedle laserneedle is offline
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Sounds good Govtec,
That is a nice system and they definitely make it for your car. I know of one person who had the Webasto shipped directly from Germany to a U.S. BMW dealership where they actually installed it. I was surprised because I didn't think BMW USA would do this, officially anyways. Let me know what happens.
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  #25  
Old 12-30-2005, 08:28 AM
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Wolf359 Wolf359 is offline
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My previous 2000 323i didn't have a block heater and started fine during all five years of ownership. However I'm just a bit north of Montréal and -40C is extremely rare here. The lowest temperature I had to start the car in was -28C if I remember correctly. The engine did turn more slowly but it took about 2 seconds to start instead of the usual quarter of a second.

Once you leave it there running for a while to heat up prior to getting underway, there is one thing that no block heater will affect, and it's the temperature of the oil in the rear transfer case. In such cold weather, it is turned into molasse (Not that you'd want any on your pancakes anyways... ).

So after 5-10 minutes of letting the engine heat up, you put the car into gear... And nothing happens. No forward motion whatsoever. You give it a bit more gas... Bring it up to 1000... 1500 RPM... Still nothing. I actually got it to 3000 RPM before the car started moving... And it was really crawling speed. Got out of the driveway, then to the first stop a quarter of a kilometer further, drove about one kilometer and stopped at a red light, and still the car would not react any faster. Got on a boulevard and I'd say after another 3-4 minutes of driving, it started being more responsive. In about 10 minutes it would react normally, but you still have to drive slowly because of black ice all over the place (You just don't see it but the car slides for no apparent reason in curves).

Ah... The joys of winter driving!
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