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Block heater

7706 Views 25 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Bab2555
Christmas morning it was +9F so I plugged in my block heater 3 hours before driving. Out of curiosity I popped the hood and found that a couple of the hoses were only very slightly warm. On startup the needle on the temp gauge didn't even come off of the peg. Is this normal? I used my shortest, heaviest gauge extension cord. I do intend on making up a just long enough cord using heavy gauge wire.

Another unrelated question. Will the 3.0 function properly on farm diesel?
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Sounds like your block heater is doing just fine. At best they will only speed up you heat up time, I don't think they will ever take the hand off the peg. As for the farm Diesel be careful. Modern Diesels are awfully sensitive and not all died Diesels are created equally. You could try a weak mixture of farm to pump Diesel and closely monitor your truck for differences. In the end do you think you will save enough to cover the cost of potential damage to your truck.
I believe, in the USA, Farm diesel is the same ULSD as in the pump at local gas station. FWIW, I have run it for 100,000 miles in my Ecodiesel Ram. I have my own bulk tank and a 2 micron filter at my pump. My dealer actually tells me the cetane and % of biodiesel. A lot more info than at the local gas station. I do run additives in the bulk tank. Cetane runs from 48-54 as a rule. My Ram actually runs better and gets a bit better mpgs on it. Gas stations are only required to sell minimum cetane of 40, too low imho for our high performance European diesels. European diesel is higher cetane, btw. Anyway, if you already have a bulk tank ask your supplier. I use Diesel Kleen winter formula in winter, Optilube XPD in summer.
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I should add, I run #2 farm diesel year round in Maine, only if temps are going to be 15F or colder, do I add kerosene to my tank.
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I agree about gas station diesel pumps. I always look for info on the pump and there is almost none. It would be good to know what they are selling to you.
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Can't help with OP's questions as I am scheduled to get my block heater installed on Monday 1/04/21 (reschedule from visit for 20E04 recall when they ordered the cable assembly but not the actual heater element) = after then maybe I can help!

Funny that the Block Heater for our F150 Diesels is same wattage (400W) as the ones I install on the 15-17HP 3-cylinder diesel tractors I own, which do make the block and radiator fluid pretty toasty (more than warm to the touch) but the one for our trucks has much less of the heating element coil exposed than the freeze-plug style ones for my tractors.

Guessing from my Thermodynamics class in college (that I have long since forgotten) that our 3.0L V6 is a "little bigger" block and triple the radiator fluid than my inline 3-cyl tractor engines being heated by that same 400W element...

Would be interesting to see what OP's actual temperature was via FORScan, as it sounds like XLT trim must be using analog gauge based on the "didn't even come off of the peg" comment. Ironic that the digital temperature is available to the ECM but must be converted back to voltage to move the analog gauge on XLTs...

@chiefdave - do you have an OBDii adapter and FORScan?
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I installed a block heater in my 3.0 a couple months ago. Below are a couple pics taken during the installation.

Below is where the block heater is located on the left side of the block, and just below the EGR valve. This plug is removed for the block heater installation.
Metal Electrical wiring Cable Wire Engineering

Below is a further back view of the left side of the engine from the wheel well (with the left wheel well liner removed). Note how buried the plug / block heater is.
Metal Scrap Engine Automotive engine part Synthetic rubber

Here's the block heater installed. Now, all that's left to do is refill the cooling system, and figure out how to plug the OEM wire harness into the block heater, and route the wires to and through the front bumper. It took a good bit of finagling to get the wire harness plugged into the block heater, and I ended up removing the front bumper to get the wire harness routed to the space just to the driver's side and behind the front license plate.
Electrical wiring Iron Metal Electrical supply Wire
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Great write up, looks like a good piece of a day involved. Thanks
@STIAJW - thanks for posting the marked-up pics, as I am having my dealer install my block heater on Monday.

I do notice (from my EGR cooler parts research for 20E04 recall) that the factory plug is right next to the 9Y438 pipe/hose with the fat O-ring that seems to be problematic for a number of owners this time around. Since the plug can be removed and block heater installed with a socket, I am hoping my diesel tech stays clear of 9Y438 based on @taylormade's Post #156 in the EGR By-Pass Recall v2.0 (20E04) thread.

My diesel tech thought he would need to remove the alternator to do the block heater install. Based on your pictures, is the easiest route to just remove the front driver's side wheel well liner? My diesel tech is an expert at removing the wheel well liner, as it's been out twice now for 18E02 and 20E04.

You are the second member to mention you needed to remove the bumper to route the cable assembly properly.
jmperlik, I was able to install the block heater without removing the alternator or any of the coolant tubes. I removed the wheel well liner for access to the left side of the block. And, removed the air cleaner assembly to get access to routing the wire harness. Once I had the wheel well liner off, I realized I might be able to install the block heater without removing the alternator, and without removing the coolant tube (that has that troublesome O-ring). In hindsight, I'm really glad I didn't remove the coolant tube.
I used a 14mm hex "socket" to remove the block plug, along with a 6" extension, universal joint, and another extension.
Then to install the block heater, I used a couple small pieces of disposable shop towel wedged between the block heater and the socket walls to keep the block heater from falling out of the socket The small pieces of paper towels were about the size of a dime, and I was careful to use small enough pieces to not interfere with the threads or O-ring seal of the block heater. And, used an extension, universal joint, and another extension to be able to tighten the block heater to the torque spec.
To get the wire harness plugged into the block heater, I learned by trial and error it helps to plug and unplug the wire a time or two prior to using an extended reach needle nose pliers to plug the wire into the installed block heater. Thinking about it now, I wonder if there's a socket the right size like an O2 sensor socket that would allow the block heater to be installed with the wire attached. But, would have to plan for 4 or 5 rotations of the block heater as its screwed into the block.
I didn't have the luxury of instructions regarding routing the OEM wire harness. I had a couple pictures of part of the harness routing, but no where near the entire route. The wire harness might be able to be installed without removing the front bumper if starting at the front bumper and snaking the small plug end (the end that plugs into the block heater) from the bumper to the block heater.
In my case, I ended up with the big plug end (the 110 V plug end) and had to snake that through the bumper. I suspect the recall to replace the block heater wiring didn't require removal of the front bumper. But, I was unable to find the technical details of the block heater recall - dratts!
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@STIAJW - thank you for the detailed install techniques and experiences = I will relay to my diesel tech, as this will be his first block heater install on an F150 diesel.

I asked my Service Advisor what the shop book hours are for this and he relayed that he didn't think there is anything documented! :oops: Hopefully the shop manuals have better instructions than you were provided, as I don't see how removing the alternator is the best attack vector.

On the cable assembly, it sounds like routing the block heater end thru the bumper first might be the trick, rather than connecting it to the block heater first then having to deal with the snaking the 110V plug end out to the bumper.

Thanks again for the pics and detailed instructions!
Most welcome. Hopefully the info is of some value.
I wonder if the technical details for recall 18S45, which was for the F150 and F250 block heater wiring, may have guidance as to how to remove and replace the block heater wire harness. The Ford shop should have that recall technical details available. I would expect some guidance other than "remove and replace" for that wiring harness in the recall technical details. I was not able to find the technical details for recall 18S45 when I searched the 'net.
Just curious has anyone put an oil pan heater on these? might be a good option if it gets really cold.
For what it's worth, I have never plugged my truck in. Remote start ~5 mins before I leave and take off nice and easy.
She fires right up without a hiccup every time.
That said, it typically doesn't get much colder than -10/-15C here. (5/14F)
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Wondering how installing the block heater by your dealer went?
@STIAJW - it's installed, but is was an unpleasant and atypical experience.

I showed up at 12:40 PM for a 1 PM appointment and managed to see the scheduled diesel tech before the 1PM start. He indicated he had never done a block heater install on a 3.0L PSD (I was not surprised since mine is the only one that returns to my dealership for service) and he warned me that he might not finish it that afternoon, as there were no documented "shop hours" for the install. I wasn't happy with this, as I had requested am 8 AM morning appointment and should have not accepted the 1 PM slot knowing there was no documented shop hours for the install, but the Service Scheduler assured me it would be done this afternoon. In addition to all of this, my Service Manager decided to "take the afternoon off" for the first full work day of 2021 and wasn't in his office when I arrived at 12:40 PM.

I wander at lot while waiting at the dealership, much to the dismay of most working there. I can see the outside service garage door from where I sit in the Service waiting area and I know that the diesel tech didn't pull my vehicle inside the service bay until 1:40 PM. About a half hour later, the diesel tech came into the Service waiting area asking me if I had any documentation on how the cable is supposed to be routed! He said there is absolutely zero documentation anywhere that he could find, so I pointed him to your instructions in this thread, along w/pointing him to 18S45 as you suggested.

Coupling the late start along with the lack of install documentation, I began to fear this install might be going south and without my Service Manager around, that I was about to rack up a lot of shop hours for a job that was supposed to done in conjunction with my 20E04 recall in order to save shop hours = Block heater is right near the EGR cooler assembly that is removed as part of 20E04. I was hoping for a break on shop hours for the Block Heater install, since it was the dealership's fault for not having the Block heater element in stock, after explicitly asking the Parts Manager to order both the element and the cable assembly prior to my 20E04.

Thankfully I saw my truck leave the service bay at around 3:30 PM for a test drive to ensure no coolant leaks. My truck was parked back in the lot by 3:40PM and a few minutes before 4:00 PM, I was told my truck was ready. The Service scheduler (not a service advisor) was handling my paperwork and quickly shuffled my paperwork over to the receptionist for me to pay without letting me see the RO. I asked how many shop hours I was being billed for, and he told me: 3.0 hours

I wasn't too happy because it should have been more like 2.0 hours (based on truck in/truck out time) maybe 2.5 at the most, plus all of this was extra work since they dropped-the-ball on having all of the parts available during 20E04. With my Service Manager out for the afternoon, I could only get a 15% mark-down on parts and labor on the 3.0 hours.

Didn't go as planned, but it is done = Lesson learned! Happy with the work, but not happy with what I was charged, based on how much time was truck was actually inside the service bay.
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Thanks much for the update. I had a chuckle reading your comments about the diesel tech looking for documentation as to the routing of the OEM wire harness for the block heater. Did the technical details for recall 18S45 help the diesel tech?
Good your block heater is installed.
I believe, in the USA, Farm diesel is the same ULSD as in the pump at local gas station. FWIW, I have run it for 100,000 miles in my Ecodiesel Ram. I have my own bulk tank and a 2 micron filter at my pump. My dealer actually tells me the cetane and % of biodiesel. A lot more info than at the local gas station. I do run additives in the bulk tank. Cetane runs from 48-54 as a rule. My Ram actually runs better and gets a bit better mpgs on it. Gas stations are only required to sell minimum cetane of 40, too low imho for our high performance European diesels. European diesel is higher cetane, btw. Anyway, if you already have a bulk tank ask your supplier. I use Diesel Kleen winter formula in winter, Optilube XPD in summer.
I think farm or off road Diesel depends on the supplier. Example, Know the Sulfur Content of Your Diesel Fuel. It is an old article, so could be out of date.
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Good info thegert87. I was very careful before getting my bulk tank, had a long conversation with my supplier, who assured me, that at least here in Maine all diesel, offroad (Farm) and home heating oils are ULSD. I was also happy to find that typically, my fuel has around 5% biodiesel, great for lubricity. In winter it drops to 2%. 1 thing that irks me, the price starts going up as weather gets colder, here in Maine as people use a lot of heating oil. I paid $1.389 a gallon in August, now it's around $2. Next year I'm filling up another 275 gallon tank when it's cheap. I get a veteran's discount if I buy at least 150 gallons, btw. With my Ram, if I plug in the block heater 2 or 3 hours before starting, the motor sounds much quieter than if I don't.
I realized today I have not shared several pictures taken during installation of the electrical cord for the block heater. And, I've come across several illustrations from Ford that may help with installation of the block heater cord.
Perhaps this additional information may be of some help. Starting with the front of the truck with the intent to fish the block heater cord starting with the block heater end of the cord at the front of the truck (I learned this the hard way).

The front license plate bracket can be removed by spreading the clips:
Product Automotive design Automotive exterior Gesture Mode of transport

The front bumper trim piece on the driver's side is removed:
Automotive parking light Vehicle registration plate Automotive lighting Automotive tail & brake light Grille

The block heater cord plug end after installation.
Motor vehicle Hood Automotive tire Grille Automotive design

With the bumper removed, this is how I routed the BH cord. I had to remove the front bumper to get the plug end of the cord routed through this small space (because I started installing the BH cord at the engine block end).
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive exterior Gas

The route I used for the BH cord. The large frame is the left side front to rear main frame, with the left side toward the front of the truck. The left end of the cord goes to the 120V plug end of the BH cord. The red knob at the top center is the radiator drain.
Hood Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive exterior Vehicle door

Routing the BH cord under the crossmember on the left side of the left front-to-back frame (ahead of the front wheel). This is looking toward the rear of the truck from the far front of the left wheel well (with the wheel well liner removed). This is how I routed the BH cord - but may not be the route intended by Ford. See the next image for routing above the transverse frame member.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Rim Automotive fuel system Automotive wheel system

I found this Ford image recently. This is looking toward the left front of the engine bay (as if the engine is removed) in the info for recall 18S45 posted here: RCMN-18V894-0685.pdf (nhtsa.gov) . This shows the BH cord routed on top of left front-to-rear frame member. Also, note this appears to show an earlier version of the BH cord with a connector in the cord. I wish I had found this image when I installed the block heater a year ago.
Motor vehicle Organism Automotive exterior Mode of transport Font

Another Ford illustration in the 18S45 recall info. This appears to show the route for the BH cord on the front left side of the engine.
Motor vehicle Organism Gesture Font Art

Closer to the BH.
Automotive design Bicycle part Bumper Font Automotive exterior

The cord plugged into the BH.
Automotive tire Bicycle part Automotive design Line Motor vehicle

Hope these pictures and images help. For me, they still leave me scratching my head. I know my BH installation is not quite what Ford planned - but it works.
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