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I may be too late replying to this but I wanted to post something in case you haven't done anything with it yet. The ammeter is not a bad suggestion but, you can't clamp around both wires togeter (the whole cord) because the common wire will cancel out what the hot wire should read and you will get a reading of almost zero. You have to seperate the two wires and clamp around only the hot side. But, maybe there's another ammeter that can read ampherage while clamped around both wires that I'm unaware of and I've just learned something new.
Before you do the following, make sure you DO NOT have the block heater plugged up as you DO NOT need power to perform this test. What I would do is use a multi meter set to OHMS and touch one lead to one prong of the block heater plug and the other lead to the other prong. If you are unfamiliar with reading OHMS, before you take a reading on the heater plug just simply touch the two leads of your meter together and see what the meter tells you. By touching each lead together you are simulating a complete circuit with full continuity. If it's an analog meter, the needle should peg out. If it's a digital meter, the moment you touch the leads together, the screen should change and read all zeros or something like .0001 or .0002 depending on how many decimal places your meter has. If your meter doesn't change when you read across the prongs of the plug then you know you have a broken connection somewhere in the circuit. Without looking at my block heater plug, I'm not sure if the cord can be taken off the element and tested by it's self. I would think the plug is a molded part of the element but I may be wrong. By chance, if the cord can be disconnected from the element, you can then read OHMS from the prong to the end you disconnected from the element. You won't have any way of knowing which end of each wire is for which prong on the plug so you will want to touch one lead to one of the prongs then see if you get a reading on either of the two wires on the opposite end of the cord from the plug. Do this same thing with both prongs. If you are unable to get a reading from one prong to either of both ends of the wires, you have a bad cord.
Sorry for writing the book but, if you are unfamiliar with using a meter, I wanted to explain how to use it.
Hope this helps.
Last edited by str8razor; 02-15-2011 at 04:53 PM.