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Old December 6th, 2006, 12:02   #1
scurvy
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Post How to block your front grill with pipe insulation

It's that time of the year again, when plummeting temperatures send us scrambling to dose our fuel and crank our seat heaters to 11. Ever wanted to block off part of your radiator to help your engine warm up faster? It's very easy to do and can help you get better fuel economy, perhaps lower engine wear but most importantly get heat to the passenger cabin faster. This is very easy & cheap, but I thought some of the less imaginative or mechanically inclined may benefit from some pictures. This was done on my 2006 MkIV Golf TDI.

Go to your local hardware store and buy 3 meters (9') of foam pipe insulation for 13mm (1/2") copper pipe (or 10mm iron pipe - pipe sizing is weird, but pipe threading is even weirder). I found it at my local Menards for the whopping sum of $1.64. Menards is a midwestern chain of giant hardware stores, kinda like Home Depot or Lowes, but without all the suck. The pipe insulation usually comes in 2 meter lengths (6') but for some bizarre reason, it was in a bag of four (4) one meter lengths. Whatever. It costs less than $2 total and more than you need.



Note that this is dark grey, which blends in better. Sometimes it is brown or black. It will still work fine. Don't worry. Have a homebrew. Also notice the package is half French. That's because this stuff was hecho-en-Canadia.

Take out a piece of it and notice there's a slit down one side. That's how you would put it around a pipe. And that's how you're going to put it on your grille. Open up the slit by running a finger down it:


Then slide it in place over a slat in your upper grille, and trim to length with your pocketknife:


Repeat three times, and the upper grille is done.


Give it all a nice push to get it settled in there.

Now do the same thing on the lower grille slats. Don't bother with the bottom-most as it doesn't actually go through.

But before you slide those in place, I like to cut some slits to match up with the vertical grille bits, shown below.


Those help it sit nice and far back into the grille openings and block out that awful cold air.

Do that for both lower grille slats and you're done, honkey.


It may seem a little flimsy but I've never had a piece become dislodged for any of the past 3 winters.

Enjoy!

scurvy
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Last edited by scurvy; October 12th, 2009 at 17:41. Reason: Big massive updated pictures
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Old December 6th, 2006, 13:40   #2
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i'm curious....exactly how much of an effect will this have? it doesent get THAT cold around here, but I'm always up for messing with the car!
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Old December 6th, 2006, 16:38   #3
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i usually just put a piece of cardboard in front of the actuall radiator. then it doesn't look like my car has braces.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 17:37   #4
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Hey, and if you spray paint the insulation black it will flake right off so don't bother. Trust me on this one...

I hope that really does help, because I'd hate t drive around looking like that if it had no effect. j/k
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Old December 6th, 2006, 18:05   #5
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I just buy six rolls of cheap duct tape and cover the entire front of my car. I block off everything but the headlights. Just make sure to keep a knife in the car in case you have to get the hood open.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 18:15   #6
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IIRC, that lowest slot does not go through.

I place the slit of the insulation over the fins of the grate. That uses less stuff, and the two pieces (top/bottom) hold each other together.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 18:50   #7
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Seriously, I just use pieces of a 1/2 inch think backpacking mat and put them in front of the radiator. Works great.
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Old December 6th, 2006, 19:14   #8
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Default A/C Cover

99.5 Jetta -- I noticed that my A/C fan died and really had not worked for some time so I pitched it --- my A/C worked fine and it would blow cold on the hot summer days. I also noticed that the large hole in the rad cover where the fan attached would be a great place to cover over for the winter -- for faster warm-up and getting a little more heat. I cut a cover out of plastic and screwed it into the same holes as the fan mount. The rad cover has a divider in the middle so the cover closes off half of the rad. I did not do an eng'r test on this project to see how much faster it warms up, but it seems to get heat faster and holds the temp better on slow around town driving. I have run the x-way at speeds of 75mph in weather temps of 70 degrees and the motor has not overheated. Now that it is getting much colder I have placed another cover over the front lower part of the rad -- 6" high by the length of the rad. The motor warms up pretty well now --- even slow town driving. I see 180 most of the time now on my Scan - even with the heater blowing hard.
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Old December 7th, 2006, 06:29   #9
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Thumbs up So far, so good

Made it a good 75 miles since I installed it in subfreezing weather at highway speeds - so sign of movement.

This morning it was 8F (-13C). Driving carefully and easy, keeping RPMs below 2500, I was off the bottom 3 lines in 1.5 miles, full-on 190F (90C) straight up on the temp gauge 2.5 miles later (4 miles elapsed) on city streets. This is an improvement from previous days, when it wouldn't be fully hot before I got on the Dan Ryan expressway.

I like it.
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Old December 7th, 2006, 15:21   #10
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Another benifet of covering the grille is to keep out the SALT SPRAY (Chloride, Calcium, Uride...whatever they use in your area) which comes off of the wheels of the car in front of you.

I have see radiator fins turn to dust after a few winters of salt-spray on them.

I also, in the spring, use copious amounts of water from the garden hose to rinse off my radiator. Otherwise, that salt will stay there and munch away at the fins all summer when it gets humid.
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Old December 7th, 2006, 15:31   #11
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I did mine, but in a different way. I used some slightly larger insulation and fit it over the horizontal bars of the lower big grille, as if the horizontal bars were the pipe that the insulation was designed for. Prior to the fitting, I cut some vertical slits in the insulation to fit around the vertical bars in the grille. Before the final placement, I wrapped a wire tie around a couple of the horizontal bars so the unattached ends were poking out the front of the grille. Once the insulation was fitted, the ties can be attached and trimmed to prevent any movement. I did this with only one long piece of the insulation as it only has to cover 2 horizontal bars.

I agree with scurvy as the temp increase is immediately apparent in the cold climates.
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Old December 7th, 2006, 22:33   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scurvy
Made it a good 75 miles since I installed it in subfreezing weather at highway speeds - so sign of movement.
You, my friend, are a god. Anyone that can install something on the front of their car in subzero weather while traveling at 65+ MPH without wrecking is a god. I bow before you.
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Old December 7th, 2006, 22:40   #13
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Even if he did, it's only half as cool as this guy
http://www.dpccars.com/car-movies/12...ing-Donuts.htm
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Old December 8th, 2006, 06:52   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitrowolf
Anyone that can install something on the front of their car in subzero weather while traveling at 65+ MPH without wrecking is a god.
Didn't really seem like that big of a deal to me at the time... guess I've just got long arms.

Yeah, that was an awkward sentence to write and to parse. Me fail English? That's unpossible! Lemme rephrase it... "After installing the pipe insulation on my front lower grill, I drove at least 75 miles at interstate speeds in subfreezing weather and the insulation has shown no sign of movement."

It was 5F (-15C) this morning - same story as before. Off the three hash marks after about 1.5 miles, full heat by 4 miles. I like the other methods mentioned, but this one seem like by far the laziest and appears to work well.

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Old December 8th, 2006, 10:23   #15
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I'm completely staying out of the grammar discussion, but the pipe insulation in the grille Does make a noticeable difference in warm-up time! My gauge was off dead-cold and moving up in less than 2 miles yesterday, as well.
Thanks for the suggestion, scurvy!
I did top and bottom of the center grilles. The brown-ish color didn't look real promising in the store to me either, but on the car it's fine.
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