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Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving?
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michaeltag
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:05 pm    Post subject: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I have posted before about my heater not getting warm in the winter also my Scan Gauge not reading very hot water temp on the coldest days. I have learned a little more about this and thought I would post a clarification and re-frame my original question ...
    • I have a VW 1.8T Conversion that is OBD II so I have a ScanGauge that gives me a good accurate reading of water temp at the engine.
    • I also have a Vintage Air install that reduce the size of the front heater core.
    • So, heat in the front row is an issue when driving at times on the coldest days, even in California, and I am concerned that the engine doesn't even get up to a proper operating temp. On the coldest days it runs in the neighborhood of the 170s F.
    • However, my biggest concern is, were I to take a long trip to Canada or Alaska or even across the upper USA in the Winter, where temps are subfreezing or subzero for days at a time, which I would actually like to do, possibly.

I am told that running a different thermostat is not the best solution, so what about doing what many truck drivers (light trucks and semi trucks) do, running with an adjustable grill cover that limits airflow to radiator, like in these photos that follow the picture of Phyllis?
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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• 1.8T engine conversion from Stephan's AutoHaus
• Schwenk Springs, OME shocks, BFG All Terrains on South African 15-inch steel wheels
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Last edited by michaeltag on Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:53 pm; edited 2 times in total
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BrownEye02
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck style grill cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

The previous owner of my van has a cover setup for the front just like this. My van is a stock 2.1L though so I'm not quite sure how much its needed. Especially since I've only owned it for about a month now. Probably the best thing the guy ever did to this van even if it ends up being a bit pointless. Was thinking it would make a good cover while camping none the less.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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P.S. - not all buttons are clipped in, only did a few for the example.
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Yellow Rabbit
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I think the thermostat should be closed until the engine is up to temp. If it’s closed you wouldn’t have coolant flow to the radiator so it seems like this wouldn’t help you. If your van is staying cold, are you sure your thermostat isn’t stuck open?

I don’t know how your conversion is plumbed. I believe the stock setup should flow coolant to the heater cores as soon as you start the van before it flows to the radiator.
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michaeltag
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

Yellow Rabbit,
Because of the way my van warms up quickly the rest of the year, and that this is a problem, only on the coldest days, I don't think that this is a problem with the thermostat being stuck open, but rather, I think this is a combination of two things that are different than a stock Vanagon:
1) Cooolant tubes that run underneath are now stanless steel and loose heat easier.
2) Heater core is smaller in front with Vintage Air install

Idea would be to limit air flow with grill cover only on coldest days much like truckers with huge radiators do.
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• 1.8T engine conversion from Stephan's AutoHaus
• Schwenk Springs, OME shocks, BFG All Terrains on South African 15-inch steel wheels
• GoWesty Plate Steel Bumpers w/ front skid plate & rear swing-away spare carrier
• Big Shot Shifter
• Transaxle rebuilt with taller heavy-duty 4th gear, GoWesty decoupler and oiler plates by Ken at Porter's Precision
* TruckFridge
• Propex Heater
• Vintage Air in-dash A/C
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jlrftype7
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 8:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

michaeltag wrote:
Yellow Rabbit,
Because of the way my van warms up quickly the rest of the year, and that this is a problem, only on the coldest days, I don't think that this is a problem with the thermostat being stuck open, but rather, I think this is a combination of two things that are different than a stock Vanagon:
1) Cooolant tubes that run underneath are now stanless steel and loose heat easier.
2) Heater core is smaller in front with Vintage Air install

Idea would be to limit air flow with grill cover only on coldest days much like truckers with huge radiators do.

I went from stock steel pipes to stainless steel pipes, granted, not your engine set-up, but didn’t change my heater output.
But, adding a cover couldn’t hurt in cold winter weather.
I used to slide cardboard in front of my radiator on a SUV I owned years ago. My main issue was a clogging heater core, but the cardboard helped a bit until I replaced that lousy heater core.
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michaeltag
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I thought the factory tubes underneath were non-metallic, so less conductive of temperature. I didn't mean to imply that SS was more conductive than regular steel.
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• 1.8T engine conversion from Stephan's AutoHaus
• Schwenk Springs, OME shocks, BFG All Terrains on South African 15-inch steel wheels
• GoWesty Plate Steel Bumpers w/ front skid plate & rear swing-away spare carrier
• Big Shot Shifter
• Transaxle rebuilt with taller heavy-duty 4th gear, GoWesty decoupler and oiler plates by Ken at Porter's Precision
* TruckFridge
• Propex Heater
• Vintage Air in-dash A/C
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hans j
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I have one for my TDI.
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Even with it on, I can lose heat by running the heaters on full when it's cold out. But most of the time it doesn't drop below 85*C when it's cold out. My thermostat is 87*c.

Here's how to tell if your thermostat is weak or bad. Get it fully warmed up by driving on surface streets or idling until the fan cycles. Look at your temp. Then go drive on the freeway at higher speeds, and downhill if possible. If the temp drops below 87*C (factory thermostat temp for a 1.8T), either your plumbing is bypassing and allowing cooling, or the thermostat is bad.

Technically, the length and material of the pipes under the van shouldn't matter much, because there should be very little coolant flow through them until the thermostat opens up.

Oh and don't cover both of them, you will need something to cool it off! I did a lot of testing with mine when I first made them.
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?Waldo?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

A grill cover can block the cold air going into the heater box. Adding a recirc feature is a better option, though, IMO.

I guess the cover could theoretically block a bit of heat loss from the body at the tunnel by the shifter but it would have to be really, really cold to even notice a difference.

Assuming your coolant hose routing is correct, a grill cover won't change the temperature of the coolant entering the engine unless the thermostat is bad. Well, it could cause you to overheat, but if your engine isn't reaching normal operating temperature, a grill cover won't help unless your thermostat is bad. The material of the main coolant pipes isn't relevant. The thermostat will automatically compensate for any difference in the temperature of coolant coming from the radiator and adjust the mix with the hot coolant from the bypass hose in order to keep the temperature of coolant entering the engine fairly constant.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:32 am    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

When you block cold air from entering the radiator on a front engine car or truck you are warming the engine compartment up, while the engine compartment of a Vanagon isn't going to be affected by covering the radiator.

My tendency would be to go with a new stock OEM thermostat for your engine and if that isn't enough go with a high temp one.

A grill cover might help warm any air that is leaking into the cab from the front.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:51 am    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

michaeltag wrote:
I thought the factory tubes underneath were non-metallic, so less conductive of temperature. I didn't mean to imply that SS was more conductive than regular steel.
Mine's a 1.9, so not the same as the later 2.1 system with the plastic pipes. No worries.... Wink
I believe the 1.9s and the Diesels both had the Steel Coolant Pipes as stock.
Anyway, try the cardboard and tell us how it went. Like the Game of Thrones, Winter Is Coming.... Razz
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 7:27 am    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

the termostat blocks the cold coolant from the coolant radiator, and keeps the coolant temperature "static" in the engine by mixing the cold to the hot. This is how it got its name from Wink

if you have metal pipes to the heater radiator in the vintage air then it can be a place where you loose heat but a radiator cover wont help as vintage air recirculates the cabin air. You can use foam pipe insulation on heater lines - but no need to use them on the coolant lines going to the front radiator.

I am not familiar with the piping on the 1.8T conversion but on Tdi conversions there is a possibility to a false hose routing, where the pump is always sucking cold coolant from the front radiator bypassing the termostat. It is caused by mixing the TDI and the vanagon diesel coolant system.
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Jake de Villiers
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:26 am    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I used to tuck a piece of cardboard in behind the upper grille when travelling in extreme cold to cut back the cold air entering the cabin and it definitely helped.
With your smaller heater core you're going to need all the help you can get!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:10 am    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

To be clear, blocking this area only (surrounded with green) will prevent the cold air from entering the heater box:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Blocking any of the rest of the front will have no effect on engine coolant temps unless the thermostat is not functioning correctly. Blocking that area surrounded by green won't affect the engine coolant temps either, but can help your heater function by reducing the cold ram air into the box. Again, adding heater recirc air is a better solution.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I don't think it's necessary for a gas engine. Diesels, on the other hand, may benefit. The fuel can jell up below freezing
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

I don't see how blocking the front of the van would have any effect whatsoever on the temperature of the fuel system regardless of the fuel type.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

It may hold some heat vs being a Popsicle?

I don't know - just thinking out loud
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

tjet wrote:
I don't think it's necessary for a gas engine. Diesels, on the other hand, may benefit. The fuel can jell up below freezing


If this is the case the solution would be to block off air flow through the engine compartment, which is in the rear of the vehicle. Somewhere I have one of the shields that VW used on 1.6NA diesels to do this.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 2:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
tjet wrote:
I don't think it's necessary for a gas engine. Diesels, on the other hand, may benefit. The fuel can jell up below freezing


If this is the case the solution would be to block off air flow through the engine compartment, which is in the rear of the vehicle. Somewhere I have one of the shields that VW used on 1.6NA diesels to do this.


Cool. Post some pics.

If I had a diesel powered vanagon in some extreme cold place (not in US), I would run a coolant line along side the fuel line & wrap them together, and maybe under the fuel tank. Then, blocking the radiator with some type of cover would make more sense.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

Since this hasn't been mentioned yet-

If you can assume that the conversion is plumbed correctly, and you then determine that you want to change it, test it in some water on the stove with a thermometer.

My TDI Bus is difficult to keep warm in the winter, so I went through this some over the past couple years. I tested OEM from VW thermostats, different ones from the FLAPS, and some kind of fail safe thermostat. Put 'em all in a pot of water and turned it on, and watched for which one to start opening first.

Seems like they were all fully open at the same time, but some started to crack open a little bit earlier than others.

As I recall, the one that I ultimately installed was the fail-safe version.

Another thing to consider is that some people report that as a thermostat gets worn, it may start opening up at lower temps.

All that to say, it might be worthwhile to pull the stat and test it to see what temp it starts cracking open. Maybe have a couple others to test, too, and see which one opens when you want.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Ever used a truck-style grille cover in winter driving? Reply with quote

tjet wrote:

If I had a diesel powered vanagon in some extreme cold place (not in US), I would run a coolant line along side the fuel line & wrap them together, and maybe under the fuel tank. Then, blocking the radiator with some type of cover would make more sense.


usually an additive and a block heater are easier...

some of the really ghetto veggie oil conversions people hacked into mercedes ive seen the fuel line wrapped around the rearmost muffler to keep the fuel warm. but backyard hippy hacked veg conversions arent really a great yardstick for proper modifications Laughing



to the original topic though - im suspicious that a gas engine (a turbo one at that!) pushing one of these bricks around isnt able to maintain temperature. its inefficient enough it should have no problem warming up.
i think the front bra is a bandaid, if it even works in this case. id look to fix your thermostat or plumbing first.
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