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2021 Outback Outdoor XT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Strange question... I have a 2020 Outback Outdoor XT and trying to figure out how to route a block heater cord to the outside of the vehicle. The hood seems to fit quite snug (likely a good thing). Where are folks routing their extension cord?

I can see the heater cord under the hood (it is wrapped in a heat protecting foil). It ends on the passenger side, up about midway towards the front. It is not long enough to make it to the exterior so guessing we are supposed to route an extension cord up in there? Interested in what folks have done. Where I am it can get to -40 so will need to access it daily hence don't want to open the hood several times per day. Thank-you.
 

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'10 3.6R Outback Limited, 2zr swapped Toyota Yaris track toy, '12 Mazda3 skyactiv
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Can you run it out of the grill?
 

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2020 Outback 2.5i Premium
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I'd run it through the lower grill. The faux "skid plate" plastic trim on the bottom of the bumper is held on by IIRC, 5-6 push-pin clips (3 in the front, 2 in the wheel wells IIRC). Remove the lower trim to get access to the lower grill insert. This just clips in. It'll take you 10 mins tops to get both pieces of plastic off, and give you tons of room to reach up in front of the core support, route wires, and zip-tie securely.
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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I assume the Gen 6 is pretty much the same for the block heater so the cord should run out somewhere in the lower part of the bumper cover. In my experience with block heaters over the years the cord is usually the first part to fail, often just from the repeated pulling on the cord end to unplug it when it is very cold outside. After a couple of winters the end of the cord on mine was looking like this. No damage to the wires at this point but the outer insulation was pulled away and it wouldn't last much longer with repeated use.

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My solution was to get some short extensions like these to take the abuse of being regularly plugged in and unplugged in the cold.


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I plugged one of those into the block heater cord on the Outback and taped up that connection where the insulation was damaged. Now this sacrificial cord is what sticks out of the lower bumper grille.

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Considering that my extension cord was suffering the same fate I did the same thing with that and used the other short extension on the cord so now when I use the block heater I am plugging and unplugging the relatively inexpensive short extensions every time and saving any further wear on the block heater cord and the extension cord.


On my GMC pickup I installed one of these in the front bumper as an even cleaner solution:


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It has worked well and is a lot more convenient to plug and unplug the block heater, but after one winter the cap doesn't fit tight inside the opening and I often find it hanging after I have driven the truck.

Around the same time I bought that I also bought one of these to eventually install on the Outback but so far it is still sitting on a shelf in my shop.


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The idea of getting the one with two cord ends was for me to use one for the block heater and the other for a battery maintainer so any time I plugged the block heater in I would also be topping off the battery charge. I kind of forgot about it until replying to this thread but eventually maybe I will get around to this project. The Noco one seems to be made better than the one I used on my truck and I think the cover would hold up better as well.
 

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2020 Outback Limited 2.5 Hi-Yo, Ice Silver! Away!
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I bought this three outlet to one plug item and just routed the plug end through the top grill like the OEM block heater would appear. It's oil and cold weather resistant.

For the three outlets I connected the:
1) Battery Warmer:

2) Block heater: The technician at the dealership actually used the Ascent block heater on my 2.5 limited. I saw the parts number for it on the invoice and the block cord looks like it. Instead of routing it the way it should, he ran it anterior of the engine and attached to the middle of the oil dipstick tube before bringing it forward and out to the driver side with the battery warmer. He wanted the two plugs to be close which I appreciated as the block heater is located on the passenger side and the battery is on the driver side.
The part number for the outback XT and 2.5 block heaters are the same. Since the ascent is the same XT engine I wasn't too worried about its block heater being used on my 2.5.

3) Battery Tender: I actually pushed this between the air intake box and the fender. It sits there pretty tight without any movement / vibration. I just routed the cord to the battery along the top of the grill and the plug is close to those of the battery warmer and block heater.

So using the two foot cord, I essentially just use one plug and that gives power to all three devices.

I use this cord. It's one of the few 12 gauge cord I could find that can handle a 15A draw. So far everything works well at -25C (-13F). Also you might think the 25' cord is too long as I did initially. However, if you reverse park your car, it reaches from the outlet to the front with very little slack left.

I did all this installation during the September month. The bolt on terminals for the battery tender can be placed on the battery in such a way that you can use the red battery cover without having to discard it. All in all I just have one plug hanging out my front grill. It's blue but technically blue is part of the Subaru's logo. I'm able to warm both my coolant and battery while also maintaining the battery. Especially important as I drive a very short distance to work.

Plugs after dealership installation. There are two there.
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Blue plug. Had to use aftermarket plug cover.
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Cover on plug.
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Finished product.
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So, I am considering having my dealer install this when I'm in for my next service. The quote is kind of high, but I do look at the positives about reducing engine wear and reducing emissions and improving fuel economy. Car is parked in driveway, not garaged. Outlet is nearby the garage door about 5-10 feet away depending on how I park.

  1. How hot would the block heater make the oil when ready for startup? 120? 140?
  2. Do I have to disconnect it first before I use remote start? Would I even need to do remote start?
  3. Can anyone recommend a wifi-enabled type of timer outdoor outlet that I could use to control scheduling from my phone?
  4. Will a 10 gauge extension cord work or do I need to find something even more heavy duty? (Would be around a 25 foot extension cord)
  5. Is there a way to "conceal" the plug so it's not hanging out of my front grille?

Even though I'm in NJ, we do get a few months where nightly temperatures are at or below freezing. Rarely do we go below zero (F). Should I trust the dealer with this job or should I be concerned about something not being done right since it could be a "seldom" requested accessory - in which case just skip it for now and get it on the next Subaru...

I believe the quote was somewhere in the high 300's, but I'd try to find one of those 20% off parts/install coupons they like to give out. Thinking if I use it for ~5 months out of the year, that's 150 days of not doing cold starts... And potential gains I'd imagine of +2 or more mpg from not doing 10-minute remote starts every morning. That would reduce my fuel cost by around 10% which means I'd save around $3-5ish a week in fuel.
 

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2020 Outback Onyx XT
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2021 Outback Outdoor XT
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Where I live all cars have block heaters. It can drop to -40 here. I did some research prior to having our dealer install:

The block heater warms the oil to support starting in cold weather. In my experience it maybe gets the oil to 15C or 20C (60 or 70F). Nowhere near operating temperature, it is supposed to help starting is all.

You can start/remote start your car with it plugged in, no problem. Just don't drive off still plugged in.

As far as turning it on/off I believe there are options. It would be the same as turning on/off any appliance over wifi. Just be sure it can handle 1500w or greater.

A standard 14 gauge extension cord is fine. 12 gauge more than enough. Normal household wiring is usually 14 gauge.

You can route/conceal to whatever your preference is. I received some good advice above and ended up buying a short 3ft extension cord which was perfect to get it to the front grill. Then in spring I tuck it away in a safe spot in the engine bay.

It really will do nothing for fuel economy as the car heats up in minutes. It does help you start the car when very cold. If you rarely go below freezing you likely do not need one.

Everyone has them here, all makes and no one uses a block heater unless temperatures are down to at least -15C (5F) and often never plug unless outside and temperatures of at least -25C (-13F). Others that live up north can jump in too but that is what I see. Driven and lived up north for 30 years, all manner of cars.

Hope that helps...

So, I am considering having my dealer install this when I'm in for my next service. The quote is kind of high, but I do look at the positives about reducing engine wear and reducing emissions and improving fuel economy. Car is parked in driveway, not garaged. Outlet is nearby the garage door about 5-10 feet away depending on how I park.

  1. How hot would the block heater make the oil when ready for startup? 120? 140?
  2. Do I have to disconnect it first before I use remote start? Would I even need to do remote start?
  3. Can anyone recommend a wifi-enabled type of timer outdoor outlet that I could use to control scheduling from my phone?
  4. Will a 10 gauge extension cord work or do I need to find something even more heavy duty? (Would be around a 25 foot extension cord)
  5. Is there a way to "conceal" the plug so it's not hanging out of my front grille?

Even though I'm in NJ, we do get a few months where nightly temperatures are at or below freezing. Rarely do we go below zero (F). Should I trust the dealer with this job or should I be concerned about something not being done right since it could be a "seldom" requested accessory - in which case just skip it for now and get it on the next Subaru...

I believe the quote was somewhere in the high 300's, but I'd try to find one of those 20% off parts/install coupons they like to give out. Thinking if I use it for ~5 months out of the year, that's 150 days of not doing cold starts... And potential gains I'd imagine of +2 or more mpg from not doing 10-minute remote starts every morning. That would reduce my fuel cost by around 10% which means I'd save around $3-5ish a week in fuel.
 

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20 Outback Limited XT 13 Outback 3.6R Limited
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Even though I'm in NJ, we do get a few months where nightly temperatures are at or below freezing. Rarely do we go below zero (F). Should I trust the dealer with this job or should I be concerned about something not being done right since it could be a "seldom" requested accessory - in which case just skip it for now and get it on the next Subaru...
I also live in northern NJ, on a ridge with a few ski slopes at a whopping 1,200' (it's NJ, not the Rockies). The 2020 is our 3rd Outback, we've had Outbacks for 14 years and they are not garaged. No matter how cold it gets, never needed a block heater.

I also have had 2 diesel pickups. With my 2002 F250, I would plug the block heater if if it was below 15 degrees. With the 2016, F350, have never had to plug it in with temps down to 0. Starts right up. I get what you are saying about wear. Keep in mind the Outback uses 0W-20 synthetic oil. That's pretty light weight, and should not be an issue starting well below 0 degrees. If I still lived in Potsdam, NY where it got down to -30, I'd consider a block heater. It's your money, and your piece of mind, but don't think you'll need a block heater in NJ.
 

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2020 Legacy Premier GT & 2007 3.0R Outback LLBean
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When I was younger, my first job was in a small town in Northern Ontario. The worse part of winter could easily get to -40 or -50 which was something I had never experienced before. The steering wheel made a grinding sound, the water pump squealed and without a block heater and battery warmer, no battery on the planet would last more than a few starter cycles. My car at the time had neither so the car sat parked until I could get both installed. I ended up having to replace the battery too. Good times.
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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So, I am considering having my dealer install this when I'm in for my next service. The quote is kind of high, but I do look at the positives about reducing engine wear and reducing emissions and improving fuel economy. Car is parked in driveway, not garaged. Outlet is nearby the garage door about 5-10 feet away depending on how I park.

  1. How hot would the block heater make the oil when ready for startup? 120? 140?
  2. Do I have to disconnect it first before I use remote start? Would I even need to do remote start?
  3. Can anyone recommend a wifi-enabled type of timer outdoor outlet that I could use to control scheduling from my phone?
  4. Will a 10 gauge extension cord work or do I need to find something even more heavy duty? (Would be around a 25 foot extension cord)
  5. Is there a way to "conceal" the plug so it's not hanging out of my front grille?

Even though I'm in NJ, we do get a few months where nightly temperatures are at or below freezing. Rarely do we go below zero (F). Should I trust the dealer with this job or should I be concerned about something not being done right since it could be a "seldom" requested accessory - in which case just skip it for now and get it on the next Subaru...

I believe the quote was somewhere in the high 300's, but I'd try to find one of those 20% off parts/install coupons they like to give out. Thinking if I use it for ~5 months out of the year, that's 150 days of not doing cold starts... And potential gains I'd imagine of +2 or more mpg from not doing 10-minute remote starts every morning. That would reduce my fuel cost by around 10% which means I'd save around $3-5ish a week in fuel.
1) Assuming the block heater for the Gen 6 is about the same as the Gen 5, oil temperature will be nowhere near those temperatures even if left on overnight. At least not when the air temp is below freezing. I don't remember for sure but I think my coolant temp at startup is between 60 and 90 depending on outside temperature. Oil temp is generally not much over 40 or 50. CVT temperature is usually about 15 degrees warmer than the air temperature if I leave the block heater on overnight. The heater is only about 400 watts so it isn't going to give you hot air out of the defroster immediately like one that is 1000 watt or higher might.

2) It is recommended that the block heater be disconnected before starting the engine due to possible cavitation around the heater in the coolant passage which could burn out the pump. I have started my engine multiple times over the last three years with the block heater plugged in with no problems so far.

3)Can't help with one controlled with phone. I do use a remote controlled plug-in switch that has worked well for me.


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4) I'm pretty sure the cord I use at home is a 12 gauge 30 ft cord and the one I carry in the car to use at work is a 14 gauge 25 foot cord. Both are used regularly with the heater on for roughly twelve hours at each location. Again, at only 400 watts there isn't a lot of draw on the circuit.

5) I've just left the end of the plug hanging out of the lower bumper grille most of the time in the winter. I do tuck it behind the grille out of sight over the summer when I'm not using it.

As I think I posted above I have one of these I will eventually mount for a cleaner look.


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