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2009-2011 Escape I4 Engine Block Heater Installation

1856 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  derding
Hey guys,
This is my first how-to, so go easy on me if the directions are not clear. I bought an engine block heater from the dealer for my wife's Escape - call it an early Christmas present :) . Anyways, it took me less than an hour and a half to install, and that was with trying to figure out how to route the cord, so I'm sure a proficient individual could do it in even less time.

Warning: I am not responsible if you damage your vehicle in any way during the course of this installation, including if you are :bang: and forget to refill your car with coolant. This is meant only to show how I installed my heater - your mileage may vary. Also, these instructions do not apply to the V6. Although the freeze plug may be the same size, I don't believe it is located in the same spot, and the torque specs for the heater element are different.

Materials Needed:
-Drain pan for coolant
-New coolant (if you don't want to reuse yours)
-14mm hex bit (allen head) socket - I got mine in a set on Amazon, made by Performance Tools, for $15
-24mm regular socket - if you use a deep well socket, a 6" extension is going to be too long
-1/2" drive socket wrench (and cheater pipe if necessary)
-1/2" drive, 6" extension
-Torque wrench
-Flathead screwdriver

Okay, so first, here's a few pics of the block heater. It was an expensive little bugger - I think the heating element was $105, and the cord was $35, for a grand total with tax of just over $150.

Here's the heating element:

Here's the cord package:

Here's the cord laid out on my floor:

Step 1: Drain your coolant. I have a big (clean) drain pan, and since my Escape only has 30k miles, I opted to just catch the coolant as it drained out of the freeze plug, and reuse it. The official right way is to remove the coolant through the radiator, but since I did not do that, it will not be covered here. Let this be a test - if you are not able to successfully drain your coolant, you should probably not be attempting this job. :fan:

Step 2: Find the freeze plug to remove. Here is a pic of my engine with the general area you need to be looking:

The freeze plug to remove is located underneath the exhaust manifold on the driver's side. It is actually easiest to just go in through the top (that's what she said :D) - here is another closer pic of the location of the freeze plug:

I had some trouble getting a picture of the plug with my camera, so this image is slightly crooked, but you're basically looking at the back side of my engine block. The brown thing at the top of the pic is the flange of the exhaust manifold. As you can see, the freeze plug requires a 14mm hex bit socket to remove:

Step 3: Get your ratchet, socket, and extension, and remove the freeze plug. You can actually get the socket down in from the top fairly easily. The turning of the ratchet is a little restricted, but it shouldn't take more than a minute or so to remove the freeze plug. Since I used an old torque wrench to remove the plug, I did not require a cheater bar. CAUTION: If you have not yet drained your coolant, it is going to come out now. I put a clean pan underneath my car to catch and reuse the coolant:

Here is a pic of the freeze plug once it's removed:

Step 4: Install the heating element. I didn't take any pictures at this point, but it's just the reverse of removal. Be sure to thread the element in by hand first, and then put a 24mm socket on your 6" extension and tighten things up. Torque the heater element to 30 ft-lb.

Step 5: Replace coolant. However you removed the coolant, it needs to be poured back in through the reserve tank. Be sure to remove the plastic bleeder screw with a flathead screwdriver, so that air can work its way out of the system as the coolant reenters. Here is a pick of the bleeder:

Step 6: Route the heater cord. If you have not done so yet, plug the heater cord into the heater element. I wasn't really sure how to route the cord, so I'll just show you what I did. Here's a few pics:

Note that I took it straight up and past the valve cover on the driver's side, and then hung a right turn towards the opposite side of the car, across the intake manifold runners. The arrow in the next pic shows a hole in the block that seemed to accept the plastic holder clip on the cord quite nicely:

Although the cord looks very close to the serpentine belt, there is a good 2 inches of clearance.

I then took the cord around and put it through a hole in the radiator support near the A/C fan. It is right next to the (high pressure?) A/C line:

Once the cord goes through this hole, you can grab it through the bottom hole in the front bumper. The next pic shows the approximate location where I used the clip on the cord to attach it to the metallic support behind the bumper cover:

Finally, I stuck the last plastic clip holder on the cord into the hole on the bottom of the license plate support, which allows the cord to be held in place as pictured:

And that's it! Overall, a very easy job, and I look forward to having near-instant heat and better winter mpg's for years to come. I plugged the heater in, and came back 6 hours later to start the car, and the temp gauge was slightly elevated from its resting location when I started her up (i.e., instant heat). Enjoy!
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Thanks for these instructions. I'm getting ready to do this and I was wondering one thing about the bleeder. Do you simply unscrew the screw all the way out or just loosen it to bleed it?
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