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Old 07-12-2011, 01:38 PM
 
Location: Limbo
413 posts, read 855,248 times
Reputation: 233

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While it's not set in stone yet, it looks like I may be moving to Fairbanks in September.

I've got a 2004 chevy Cavalier 2door, 2.2l, front-wheel drive.

Approximately how much would it cost to winterize? I'm guessing it's easier (maybe less expensive?) to do in Fairbanks than it is to do in the lower 48, especially where we are now. Heat Index was 118 yesterday; I'm guessing if I went in to the auto shop and asked for a block heater, they'd send me to the funny farm.

My boyfriend's a mechanic, and we're both comfortable with driving in snow (Michigan born-and-raised). But I've never lived anywhere that needed a block heater. So what all do I need to have done? The agency I've been working with specifically mentioned the block heater, which was obvious, but also a blanket for the battery and for the oil pan. How difficult are these to install? I assume installing a block heater is an invasive procedure, and will require more tools and resources than we have.

What about snow tires? I think they're 195/65 14", but I might be confusing that with my blood pressure. I don't especially want to drive all the way up there on snow tires, but I don't really have the ability to bring them with me. Do I need a full set, or can I get away with 2 and 2 new (non-snow) tires? How expensive are snow tires in Fairbanks? Do used ones come up for sale often, like on craigslist (I looked briefly, but didn't see any)?

I'll only be staying for one year, Sept. to Sept., so I'm hoping not to invest a terrible lot. But I don't want to damage my car either.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Point Hope Alaska
4,320 posts, read 3,972,192 times
Reputation: 1146
Default TenTips

Ten tips to winterize your vehicle.
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Old 07-12-2011, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Limbo
413 posts, read 855,248 times
Reputation: 233
Thank you for the link. It did little to answer my questions, though.

Edit: I did find this thread way back in the stacks, which is moderately helpful. I suppose I'm looking for some 'real world' examples, rather than a couple people arguing about the viscocity of oil.

Do you need a transmission heater on a manual (my guess is no)?

Last edited by Newtgirl; 07-12-2011 at 03:24 PM..
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Old 07-12-2011, 03:18 PM
 
4,986 posts, read 8,874,444 times
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Yes, wait till you get up here to winterize. Mechanics down south will have no clue what to due. I have had experience trying to order a block heater down in the -48 as well. As you said, they looked at me like I was from Mars, and ended up ordering the wrong part anyway.

Battery and oil pan heater blankets are no big deal to install. Block Heater is a little more difficult depending on the type, and usually requires draining the coolant (you probably want to change it as part of the overall winterizing anyway). Hardest part of installing the batter/oil blankets is probably running the cords. If you go to NAPA in Fairbanks (the one at the corner of Noble and Int'l Airport Road), they always put out a big bin of heater blankets of various sizes and pre-made extension cord/junction box sets just for the job, starting in September or so.

NO. Do not drive the car up with winter tires, and DO NOT mix summer and winter tires on different axles. Very Dangerous!

And yes, there are always plenty of ads for used snow tires on CL, however finding the exact size you need is hit or miss. But Costco, WalMart, Sams, etc and all of the local tire shops all have snow tire sales towards the end of summer anyway.

Last edited by Moose Whisperer; 07-12-2011 at 03:34 PM.. Reason: speling
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Old 07-12-2011, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Deltana, AK
864 posts, read 1,807,102 times
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Yeah, wait till you come up to take care of everything. Even for snow tires, the price might be a bit more, but the local expertise and lack of hassle is probably worth it. You should have a few weeks to take care of the car - snow hits sometime in October (usually...) and temperatures much below zero generally hold off until November.

If you'll only be up for a single winter, you should be able to get away with only a block heater, though a battery blanket is a good idea if your battery isn't new. If you get all your fluids (especially oil) changed to synthetics, then the oil pan heater, transmission heater, etc. shouldn't be necessary. At least that's been my experience, many will likely disagree (it is an internet forum after all...). Probably most importantly, just go really easy on your vehicle in winter, particularly below -40. For the first five minutes of driving or so, do everything in slow motion, minimize sharp turns, accelerate slowly, etc.

Also, a lot of people in the interior get away without snow tires, opting for some decent all seasons instead. This can work out because most years our temperatures stay consistently cold enough that most roads are snowy instead of icy. Last year though was HORRIBLE, and there will always be bad days. Just depends on where you have to drive and your comfort level.

One more tip: plug the block heater into a timer, like the ones people use for christmas lights. Most days, having the heater click on 2 hours before you leave for work is plenty, though if it's really cold, it's probably best to click it on before you go to bed. Having the timer will save a lot on your electricity bill.
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Old 07-12-2011, 06:26 PM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,408,264 times
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Do most people have heated (or semi-heated) garages at their houses? I could see that being a BIG plus...

My best advice would be to look at what the people around you are doing. Neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc... I get the feeling from here that different parts of Alaska have different winters. Will you need studs or just winter tires?

BTW, I got strange looks in Florida when I ordered my Truck with a factory block heater. It was $50 and I plan on going places that I will need it. (Diesel engines need to be plugged in before gas engines anyways and I go to the NE during the winter)

I will agree that waiting to get winterized may be the best thing to do up there, as you will get advice on what works and what doesn't (or isn't needed) Although the prices may be a little more for what you end up with, being prepared and not getting ripped off will be worth it in the long run.

Unfortunately, I do not have any Arctic winter experience to assist you with the "what" you need. I can only tell you what I would do...
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Old 07-12-2011, 11:46 PM
 
Location: interior Alaska
5,758 posts, read 4,076,758 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakster View Post
Do most people have heated (or semi-heated) garages at their houses? I could see that being a BIG plus...
Man, my house is barely semi-heated. I'm not shelling out for fuel to heat the garage, too.
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Old 07-13-2011, 01:23 AM
 
Location: Palmer
2,519 posts, read 6,297,258 times
Reputation: 1378
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frostnip View Post
Man, my house is barely semi-heated. I'm not shelling out for fuel to heat the garage, too.
Isn't that the truth.

Actually when i lived in Fairbanks I had a battery blanket, a trickle charger, an insulated blanket under the hood as well as a block heater.

I don't think you really need all that but it does help. Just wait until you get here, the people down south won't know anything about it.

On a side note, I talked to a recent retiree who was heading south in his motor home. I asked him where he was going and he said he didn't know but that he was going to keep going south until someone asked him what that cord was doing hanging out under his hood.
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Old 07-13-2011, 07:30 AM
 
Location: Lyons, France, Whidbey Island WA
16,334 posts, read 13,108,302 times
Reputation: 8577
synthetic oil
synthetic gear oil
nokian michelin bfg or coopers...studded
coolant rated to 80 below
block plug in
anti ice windshield spray
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:12 AM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,408,264 times
Reputation: 2171
FrostNip - Appropriate Handle then..

Marty - The RV is a plug-in Hybrid right??? (j/k)
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