Toyota Tacoma: How to Install Block Heater

Cold weather and engine starts do not like to go together. Fortunately you can easily install a block heater to avoid any slow starts in the morning.

By Neftali Medina - February 19, 2016
Contributors: Yotatech, ToyotaNation, TTora

This article applies to the Toyota Tacoma (1996-2015).

If you've ever had to start your car in the blistering cold, you know how terrible it can sound. While the internals shrink and coolant as well as oil thickens, you are left with a very hard start. Thankfully, block heaters allow you the opportunity to keep your engine warm while you get ready for your morning commute. These little tools simply mount to an area on your block, connect to a 110 volt plug and provide a constant stream of heat to the motor. There are two ways of installing a block heater, and we've taken the liberty to explain each procedure here.

Toyota Tacoma Block Heater Install

Materials Needed

  • Jack and jack stand
  • Tire iron
  • 14" 3/8" drive extension
  • 2" ball peen
  • Sledge hammer
  • Flashlight
  • Drain pan
  • 4 bottles of coolant
  • Pliers
  • Zip ties
  • Screwdriver

Step 1 – Jack up the truck

This step applies to both procedures, and, frankly, can be done with only one side off of the ground.

  • Position the jack at a jack-point.
  • Loosen the wheel closest to the block cooler mounting location.
  • Lift the truck up.
  • Secure the truck in place with the jack stand.
Toyota Tacoma block heater DIY how to replacement
Figure 1. Raise and secure the truck.

Those of you installing freeze plug block heaters proceed to Step 2, and those of you using the heater mount move on to Step 5.

Step 2 – Drain the radiator

  • Locate the drain plug on the radiator and place a pan directly underneath it.
  • Loosen the plug and allow the coolant to flow into the catch can.
Toyota Tacoma block heater DIY how to replacement
Figure 2. Drain coolant.

Step 3 – Remove the freeze plug

Locate the freeze plug found behind the passenger side wheel well. To access it, you have to loosen the two Phillips screws holding the mud guard in place. Once they are off, use the 14" extension, ball peen, and extension to pop the plug out of place. Make sure you do not push the plug into the block. When the plug is pushed slightly out at an angle, take some pliers and remove it from the block.

Toyota Tacoma block heater DIY how to replacement
Figure 3. This shows the location of the freeze plug.

Step 4 – Install the block heater

Install the freeze plug style heater into place and make sure to properly route the power wire into the front of the vehicle. Secure the plug wire down, refill the radiator, install the mud guard, and lower the truck down. From here, remove the radiator cap and run the engine for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will bleed any air from the cooling system. Top off coolant as necessary.

    • Toyota Tacoma block heater DIY how to replacement
      Figure 4. Block heater installed.
    • Toyota Tacoma block heater DIY how to replacement
      Figure 5. Plug routed to the grill.

Step 5 – Tacoma direct connect styled block heater (05+)

  • First you must locate the port on the engine, which is found on the driver side, towards the firewall.
  • Then you simply connect the plug in place and route the wire to the front of the grill.
Toyota Tacoma block heater DIY how to replacement
Figure 6. Stock block heater mounting location.

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