In talking with some of the
In talking with some of the hard core hybrid owners I've learned that they unanimously recommend the use of engine block heaters in colder climates. This enables the engine to warm up MUCH faster so you can go into EV mode sooner. Plus, it is just a kinder, gentler way for your car to start in the bitter cold.
Block heaters don't use a lot of electricity and keep in mind that you don't have to leave it on all night to benefit from this, just plug it in (or set a timer) an hour or so before you need to leave.
Hybrid experts also recommend radiator covers to help keep the engine warmer while operating. They almost all have Scanguage so they can closely monitor coolant temp, but as long as you don't block the entire radiator surface, this isn't a dangerous practice. (I'm sure you've noticed that most of the semis in our part of the country use these in the winter.)
Yes to engine block heater
Yes to engine block heater as I installed on my 2005 AWD last year. Put it on a timer for 3 hours prior to your AM startup and you can expect almost instant heat. Cost will be in the $175 range (05-07 models that have a connection to the hybrid battery heater) plus installation fee which should be less than $100. You must also use a radiator grille block on both the upper and lower grille openings. Cardboard zipped tied to the radiator grilles can be utilized for little or no cost.
Billyk, I think I remember
Billyk, I think I remember seeing in one of your posts that you had the dealer install your engine block heater. Were they able to get the factory unit that is used in the northern states ? Not as cold as Minnesota, but cold enough in northern Ohio that I'm sure it'll help me. How much of a difference have you found in MPG ?
I live in Southwestern Pa.
I live in Southwestern Pa. but I am from the Midwest where most of the family lives in Wisconsin. Northern Wisconsin that is. I spent time there in January where it was below zero F at night. I used my engine block heater with good results. I also used a custom fitted Escape cover in this weather. The Ford Dealership did install the engine block heater-about $80-this is option 41H about $180. You can order this via Ford and/or on the internet. On the 2005 thru 2007 models there is a connection from this to the hybrid battery warmer. I believe this was discontinued with the 2008 models. I posted a photo on greenhybrid.com what this connection looks like at the hybrid battery connection--look in the photo section. You can/should use a timer with the engine block heater--like 3 hours prior to your usual startup. I actually could go into electric mode function within 1 mile after utilizing the engine block heater during the winter months.
summary: engine block heater (option 41H), front engine grille blocks are necessary for cold weather. I normally use my engine block heater when the outside temperature is colder than 48 degrees at night time.
Before you spend any money I
Before you spend any money I would advise you to try something that is as old as the hills and something my father used in world war 2 and after in civilian life. When the car is garaged after use, lift up the hood and cover the engine with an old blanket and carefully tuck it around the sides. You can also wire a sheet of cardboard to the front of the radiator to stop ice winds rushing through the grill and freezing it up solid. These are tried and tested methods and probably better than all of the modern alternatives available today.