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best block heater for a 318

Discussion in 'Repairs, Maintenance, Help' started by graywolf71, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    My Volare hates it when the temperature get's below 25, and as I found out this morning if it sits in single digits for too long it will not start. Even though it's the correct battery and the alternator is good there's not enough cranking amps to turn it over. Even with ether assist. Happened at work and someone gave me a jump, but even after it got running, after a few seconds it'd die. Took 6 tries to get it to stay running.

    I'm going to have to invest in a heater of some type (not one that requires knocking out the freeze plug). I was thinking of a tank style like a KAT one, but how many watts would it need to be? And will it even work with the car?
     
  2. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    A 5W-30 or even 5W-20 may help in cold weather.
    The choke must be working perfectly in very cold temperatures. If it doesn't start the first try, you may not get a second try.
    Mopar no longer makes a block heater this old, but you might try to locate a NOS 3755667? This may have superseded to a newer part number.
     
    DC-93 likes this.
  3. chargermike

    chargermike Active Member

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    I believe I still have a NOS block heater. There was one in my charger and when I restored the car i was going to put a new one in. Never did. I can take a look for it if your interested. It does require you to remove a freeze plug.
     
  4. chargermike

    chargermike Active Member

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    Also, I agree I would replace the choke or at least make sure it is working properly. I drove them cars daily before fuel injection, etc. They usually just took one pump to close the choke and get them started. Also the starter may be on its way out too. I love the new mini starter on my 360.
     
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  5. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    How hard is it to remove the freeze plug? I thought of one of those magnetic ones you stick to the bottom of the oil pan but a purpose built one might be better.

    It takes several pumps to get enough gas in it to start on cold days. Every so often the solenoid doesn't engage on the starter so that might be it too.
     
  6. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    The mini-starters seem to spin the engine faster and take less power from the battery. It’s a great upgrade.
     
  7. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    Where can you get them?
     
  8. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    Several pumps of the gas before starting indicates a choke or carburetor issue to me. It should be one pump of the accelerator to close the choke and maybe one more to add another squirt of fuel when very cold.
     
  9. 68RT

    68RT Well-Known Member

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    My favorite heater is made by Kim Hotstart. Tank style that mounts low and it circulates the water. Can be mounted in the heater circuit for a very warm beginning to the day.
     
  10. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    Any 90s Dakota or Ram V6 or V8. I think 88 or 89 was the first year for them, so even the last of the Diplomat and Gran Fury cars. They really last, so a junkyard one can be fine or get a reman one from a parts store.
     
  11. KOG

    KOG KOG
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    If it won't start at 0 F the choke and carb aren't right. If it won't crank for more than 30 seconds I'd be looking to find a place for a bigger battery. My Darts and Valiants with 225 or 318 would start at zero and had enough battery to crank for a least a minute. I realize that you're not dealing with the same car, but it can be made to start.

    BTW, ether can be a bad thing if over used. I've never needed it on a gas engine and only rarely on diesels. Some carb cleaners (Gumout is one) make good starting fluids which aren't a violent and hard on the engine as ether.
     
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  12. Scrounge

    Scrounge Well-Known Member

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    If you have a clear lane to it, it shouldn't be difficult. You might want to use a torque wrench, and I think you need a 9/16 socket. You'll lose coolant; if you've not changed it in a while, now might be a good time.

    In addition to the other suggestions, how long since you replaced the battery? If that's not suspect, you might clean the posts and terminals with a wire battery brush. Other electrical problems might be the starter relay or the ballast resistor, or maybe just a frayed exposed wire somewhere.

    The choke should close when you punch the gas pedal once, then open slightly when the engine starts to crank. If it doesn't open on its own, one trick is to stick a screwdriver into the carb just enough to open the plate. Of course, adjusting (or replacing) the choke, or pull-off, is preferable. You might also check your vacuum hoses for leaks, and replace where necessary.

    If the carb isn't getting enough gas at sub-freezing temps, you might have water, or condensation, in the tank, which could freeze in the carb overnight. A container of gas-line anti-freeze might help.

    The mini-starters don't last forever, but they do outlast the larger units they replaced. Getting to one in a junkyard vehicle might involve removing a tire, but it should be easier to install in your Volare. In a junkyard, try to find a vehicle with the lowest amount of miles on the odometer. Though the starter is a different size, the bolt holes and wire connectors should be the same.
     
  13. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    Thanks for all of the tips. There's a lot of stuff I can try. And I might be interested in that NOS heater. For now the Napa here had one of those small magnetic heaters that sticks to an oil pan, and I'm going to give it a try as the temperatures around here aren't going to be suitable for working on a car outdoors for awhile.:(
     
  14. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    There might be another issue. Yesterday morning at work I was able to get it started without a jump (the temp was slightly warmer than before) and run a couple of errands. It sat for 12 hours. I go out to start it a little after dusk (sat for about 6 hrs), and after just a few cranks the battery died. And the temp was in the 20's.
    Will try getting it started again in a couple hours. This weekend the lows will be below freezing with even worse wind chills, so I may not get it started at all then unless this heater works.
     
  15. ImperialCrown

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    I realize that a car has to start in cold weather. The added heater sounds more like a Hail-Mary than actually diagnosing why the car starts hard or won't start in cold weather.
    How long is a 'few cranks'? It may not start immediately, but should fire within a couple of seconds of cranking. If you have to continue cranking, you may not get a 2nd chance to start the car.
    Is the choke plate snapping shut with moderate spring pressure when stone cold?
    How is the condition of the battery terminals and cables? Poor connections will create an excessive voltage drop. A worn starter can draw excessive current. Heavy engine oil can create an excessive viscous drag when cold.
     
  16. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    *By a few cranks: This time I mean about 6 turns before it died. When it's not as cold a few more. And if it does start it usually only runs for a few seconds before dying and you have to pump and start again until it stays running by revving the engine, or you run out of cranking power.
    *Haven't checked yet.
    *Battery terminals are new from when I got the battery back in February. Cables are still original but appear to be in good shape.
    *Starter may be getting worn out as every so often the solenoid won't engage.
    *Current oil is 10W40 with Lucas stabilizer added.
     
    #16 graywolf71, Dec 29, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  17. chargermike

    chargermike Active Member

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    Cables can visually look good but can have corrosion under the sheathing. Do they get hot after cranking? Starter can be dragging as stated above. And a proper working choke is a must. Once it starts a proper working choke will keep it running. It really needs to checked out to really see whats going on.
     
    #17 chargermike, Dec 29, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  18. NYBo

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    It sounds like the fast idle setting is off. Is it adjustable on this carb?
     
  19. Volunteer

    Volunteer Well-Known Member

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    Lots of good tips. My first thought is that these (pre-'85 RWD) classics really shouldn't be driven in winter. My Signet sits covered from Dec. 1st. thru mid-March.
    Battery should pass a Load Test, that is maintain voltage above 9.6 thru 10 second test. If it drops below 9v. by only 5 seconds it just won't do the job - especially when below freezing.
    Consider at least a 650 CCA spec. unit. I have had previous good luck with Napa, Kirkland or Delco (yes, that Delco) labels. Of course there are others but not many that can hold up to winter and rough treatment.
    Choke must close when engine cold. It need only 'tap' to set it and then one or two squirts. A well-tuned and set up older vehicle should not need a foot on gas pedal while cranking. Once it starts, the (choke) pull-off should tilt the plate just enough to prevent 'loading-up' but not too much otherwise engine will be too lean and stall. But, an initial stall is fine IF the second tap and crank is successful. A fast idle setting at 15 to 1800 with warm engine will not be this fast upon starting with cold engine but, it will increase as it warms. Be patient. Once you use pedal on just started (cold) engine, you will lose the highest fast-idle potential so will have to keep foot on pedal to establish and stabilize idle speed. Not a big deal. Just find out what procedure works best for your car and stay with it.
    As far as block heaters, the best is of course the one inside the engine. I would do this in good weather - coinciding with coolant change. Sometimes (exhaust) manifold can obstruct so you should find this out early.
    There are also inline (heater hose) units that connect to the smaller line before it enters fire-wall. I have used the type that spliced into the bottom rad hose with success, but, these can be hard to find and/or pricey.
     
  20. graywolf71

    graywolf71 Member

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    Well this morning it got down to -9, and as expected I went to leave work and the car cranked 4 times and that was it. It took an hour of having someone's running truck connected to my battery and cranking attempts to get it going. Worse I saw ice in the overflow tank so my coolant wasn't as good as I thought it was. Got it home and did some checks. I did find a vacuum hose that had broken off what my Haynes book calls the vacuum solenoid valve. No way to repair it (the part the hose slides onto broke off) so I'll need a new one... If I can find an auto parts store that knows what I'm talking about.:rolleyes:
     

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