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Winter Car Guide
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7 must-have car accessories for winter

Install an engine-block heater
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Engine-block heater

Accessory: Engine-block heater.

Cost: $30 to $60, plus labor charges.

For drivers who live in an extremely cold climate, starting the car may not be as simple as the click of a button.

An engine-block heater can provide an extra boost for starting your car by warming the coolant or the oil. Block heaters use your household electrical power, plugging into a standard AC outlet for two to four hours, depending on the cold.

"A block heater prewarms the engine and helps reduce the wear in the first few critical minutes after a cold start," says Mike Calkins, national manager of the AAA-approved auto repair program.

Calkins lists three main types of block heaters: those that install in the lower radiator hose, those that install in a heater hose and those that install directly on the engine block. A heater installed on the engine block is the most efficient option because it decreases the potential for losing heat through the radiator or the hose, Calkins says.

If you are considering an engine-block heater, Calkins recommends having it professionally installed by a licensed automotive technician to avoid leaks or potential cooling system issues.


 

 

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