Auto shop owner advises all Sask car buyers. to ask about the block heater
Raza Dawood said he often gives the same advice to people buying a car in Saskatchewan.
“Make sure your car has a block heater,” says the owner of Usman’s Auto in Saskatoon.
Not everyone knows what a block heater is, and there is no guarantee that cars sold in Canada will have one.
Plugging in a vehicle is an important step in making sure it starts during extreme cold temperatures. A block heater heats the engine, coolant and oil when it is plugged in, to make starting the car easier and less battery power.
During the cold spell of January, Dawood’s auto shop received 10 to 15 calls a day from people with car problems.
“They keep asking how come my car is stuck? I can’t start in the morning, so what’s the problem?”
Dawood said that the first question of the callers is whether they plugged in their block heater. Often he found that the caller did not know what he was talking about.
“It’s a common problem especially in Saskatchewan, especially because people are moving in from other provinces. [In] in other provinces they don’t have block heaters,” said Dawood.
But it’s not just people moving from somewhere else who don’t know to ask about block heaters.
Jared Rusch has driven many winters in the province. In the summer of 2021, he picked up a new car from a dealership. When winter came, he tried to plug in the car like he used to do before.
“[I] I couldn’t find the cable anywhere, and I looked up and down, and realized there was no block heater — even though every car I’ve bought since high school has one,” said Rusch, who lives in Saskatoon.
“I just thought it was standard, but apparently it’s not.”
If a car comes without a block heater, an auto shop can usually install it for a cost.
Rusch said he wishes the dealership had pointed out that the vehicle did not come with a block heater and thinks it should be standard practice for all vehicles sold in Canada to have them installed.
“It’s very cold here, and [that’s] definitely something people need to extend the life of their car.”
Now is a good time to take other steps to help vehicles get through the cold winter, said Christine Niemczyk, a spokeswoman for roadside assistance company CAA.
Besides plugging in cars (if they have a block heater), he said people should make sure their cables aren’t frayed and that their batteries are in good shape.
“In our extreme weather, we know what weakens the battery, and instead of just charging the battery you can change it and replace it, because the life of a battery in Saskatchewan is about three to four years ,” said Niemczyk.