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Old December 3rd, 2008, 16:05   #1
chrisk1500
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Default Real quick oil pan heater question....

Hey Guys,

A search turned up nothing quite what I am looking for.

I have an oil pan heater installed on my car.

Is there a time limit to how long you can leave these plugged in? Can I leave it plugged in all day long at work and not burn the heater out or boil the oil?

I know that a zerostart would be the proper way to go but I don't have time to do that, so I will use what I have....

Thanks

Chris
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 16:15   #2
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What kind is it? Most I have seen arent thermostatically controlled, or anything. Im sure some higher quality ones dont boil the oil.

Heck, I used one of those magnetic ones many years ago. Really didnt do crap. Being outside, the heat dissipated too quick for it to build up and boil.

I always thought wolverine brand to be decent.
http://www.wolverineheater.com/faq.shtml
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 16:17   #3
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http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread...light=fire+pan
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 16:20   #4
chrisk1500
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I will have to crawl under the car and take off the plate to get a look at the brand. The car only had 19000 kms on it when I bought it so I would *assume* that it was installed by the dealership.

I read about the fires.....hence my post asking about time it can safely be left on. I doubt my aluminum plate will catch fire like the cheapo plastic junk...

This heater is very well installed. The oil pan was scuffed up and then whoever did the install used grey permatex to hold it on.
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 16:21   #5
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Well, how does a factory oil pan heater work? Could that have been an anomaly? There must be a lot of canadian VWs with this option....
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 16:25   #6
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Car was advertised to me as having a 'block heater'.

I took that for granted and then went to install my skidplate only to find an oil pan heater. Talk about disappointment - especially for a guy living in Saskatchewan!

Again, I am not debating who installed it, I just want to know a safe amount of time to leave these things plugged in - that's all.

Thanks
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 17:07   #7
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Chrisk1500;
The scuffed oil pan and grey Permatex sealer is typical of the dealer installed oil pan heaters. The heater is held on to the pan by an adhesive on the pad - the gray sealer is to keep water from working it's way under the pad and gradually releasing the adhesive. My local dealer no longer offers block heaters - pan heaters are now installed on all Audis and VWs.

BTW, it is important to maintain the integrity of the grey sealer. If a chunk comes loose, replace it with RTV silicone seal. These heater pads sometimes do come loose and fall off.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 04:40   #8
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Thanks for the info.

Now does anyone use these? How long do you leave it plugged in at a time?
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Old December 4th, 2008, 06:45   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisk1500
Thanks for the info.
Now does anyone use these? How long do you leave it plugged in at a time?
__. Not to beat a dead horse, I'd *never* plug one in on my car. To many people have had problems with them.

__. Get a coolant heater - it's much better for your car anyway (warms the upper part of the engine, the combustion areas, and upper oil galleries). The oil pan heater only warms the oil in the bottom of the engine and doesn't do a very good job of that -- and the upper end of the engine is still cold, doesn't support starting combustion well, and takes a long time for oil to flow resulting in oil starvation to cams and rockers, etc.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 13:09   #10
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*sigh*

I already said I know the difference between the two and that I had to use what I have in the meantime...

Anyone have anything productive to add?

If not, can a mod close this thread - I guess I didn't word my question clearly enough. Sorry about that - I just wanted to know if I would be ok leaving it plugged in all day at work....guess I'll find out the hard way...
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Old December 4th, 2008, 13:25   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisk1500
*sigh*

I already said I know the difference between the two and that I had to use what I have in the meantime...

Anyone have anything productive to add?

If not, can a mod close this thread - I guess I didn't word my question clearly enough. Sorry about that - I just wanted to know if I would be ok leaving it plugged in all day at work....guess I'll find out the hard way...

I have a 250w one.... installed it myself using lots of silicone sealant
5 years with no problem whatsoever.
Just plug it for 1h1/2 max..you can check the tip of the dipstick
on how warm .
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Old December 4th, 2008, 13:30   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisk1500


Sorry about that - I just wanted to know if I would be ok leaving it plugged in all day at work....guess I'll find out the hard way...
Chris, do you know how much current the thing draws? Sometimes there's a label on the cord. You might need it on for only a couple of hours.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 13:35   #13
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If you can get a little thermocouple to put on the oil pan, or a temperature sensing gun, you can figure out how hot it gets over time. It's probably under a couple hundred watts. Oil has a good amount of heat capacity, and Aluminum is a good heat sink, so it will take a lot of power (2KWh or more) to heat the oil and keep it warm against the losses to the engine block and cool air.

I would guess that you could leave it plugged in all day for several days even in a shelter, and not overheat.

Your local hardware store or Canadian tire should have a plug in thermostat you can place near the heater to switch it off when (or if) it reaches the temperature setting you buy. Plugging the heater in a GFI should help mitigate any ground fault caused fires if the thing fouls up. A low current circuit breaker or fuse sized for the heater alone can help mitigate any problems caused by overcurrent for added safety.

Once you get that Zerostart in, you'll love it, and they definitely have a safety switch built in.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 13:42   #14
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I've left mine plugged in for 12 hours. I don't think it gets hot enough to boil the oil but you may want to buy a timer to plug in between the heater and the outlet. At some point I would like to install a "frost heater" instead but the pan heater has worked ok so far.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 15:33   #15
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The guys asks for help and he gets a lot of opinions.

So, from someone who actually uses these, works on them, installs them etc.

You can leave it plugged in as long as you want. If its been put on by the factory or dealer (mine was factory which I can verify, as the car was still wrapped up in the shipping warping when I first looked at car and the heater pad was listed on the details sheet).

The oil pan heaters are sized per the oil capacity (if done professionally, and the oil pad heater companies put out charts to do so yourself) ) so as not to burn oil. As its synthetic oil, you would have to have it pretty hot anyway.

I plug ours in (when used) when I got to bed at night, and 8-15 hours latter fire it up (weekends I sleep in). No issues.

Oil Pan Vs Circulating Heaters:
This is not a question. An oil pan heater is better for the engine. Period. Getting oil to the engine is the most critical aspect on startup. Worst wear takes place on startup up.
Having your oil at a temperature it flows and pumps better (quicker) to all the bearings is the most important. Circulating heater does not help any of that.
From a comfort standpoint, the circ heater works better. It also assist the fuel mileage situation by having the engine closer to optimum operating temperatures and helps craning. It also means you defrosters works quicker or right away and that also very important.
However, the oil pan heater left on overnight also warms the engine up some, as well as the tranny, which helps the whole situation.


Burning UP:
If you read the post on this, ANY electrical device can burn up. I have seen circulating heaters burn up as well. Be sure you have a working GFI (and or plugged into one). That will catch that sort of an issue.
My lady friend had her stove catch fire right after she bought the place, and it was professionally inspected.
If your GFI trips, fix the heater/circ heater immediately, do not plug it into a regular receptacle to keep it going. The GFI is telling you there is a problem (change cords just to check, though cord damage that causes that is usually obvious).


And, for those who question this, I have a special issue with a standby gen set that is very cold in winter at the bottom (oil pan) due to room setup. I have had the oil pan heater on it for 8 years. I take oil samples, The oil comes out clean (low hp version of the 5.9 so it does not crud up and I load bank it). Oil sample comes back in perfect condition
THIS IS ONE 24 HOURSS A DAY 365 DAYS A YEAR. I believe the VW is around 75 watts. So its like having a light bulb on all night. A circ heat is 1000 to 1500 watts. That is like 15+ light bulbs on. You can save money with the oil pan heat
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