Extended idling okay for gasoline engine?

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2,570
Location
Kentucky
In the past few years I have sometimes been in a position where it was necessary to stop a few hours at a rest area because of driving fatigue when on long distance travel overnight. 2-4 hours is what usually gets me back on the road. This has happened once or twice in the dead of winter. Should it become necessary, is it okay to idle a gasoline engine for long periods of time (more than an hour) to keep the heat warm? I've noticed that OTR diesel truck engines commonly run all night for this same reason. To all the tree huggers, yes this isn't the most environmentally friendly solution, but I'd rather do that than risk the lives of other drivers when I'm 60+ miles away from the next exit in rural Utah or elsewhere.
 
Messages
3,668
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I would suggest an oil cooler if the vehicle doesn't already have one. Personally, I would also use a syn oil(you already are if it's the truck in the sig). Cop car's and Taxi's idle all of the time, and take it.
 
Messages
2,759
Location
CarMax
I think you've answered your own question. It's probably not the best thing to keep an engine idling for long periods of time, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do when its cold outside. As long as your FI unit isn't dumping too much fuel into the engine, or you have some other engine problem made worse by idling, then I'm sure you're OK. Personally, I'd be a lot more worried about asphyxiation than my car's engine.
 
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25,045
Location
ON, Canada eh?
Not that I'm recommending it, but when we had the ice-storm up here some time ago my aunt in Ottawa was without power for weeks and was living in her car. The car basically ran non-stop for weeks idling and it was fine. She isn't the kind to change her oil on time either. 1996 Ford Escort 1.9 Litre (in case you want to know) The car died at 403K KM on the odometer when the transmission gave out.
 
Messages
4,434
Location
Massachusetts
I wouldn't worry about it. Especially that you're taking a rest in between highway jaunts. My trail Jeep idles pretty much all day. We stop, get out, get a stuck rig moving, get in, & move on to the next obstacle. My last couple of UOA's were fine under these conditions. It also helps to cook my intake manifold meatloaf.
 

92saturnsl2

Thread starter
Messages
2,570
Location
Kentucky
I was just curious.. I never thought of carbon monoxide, but the exhaust exits far away from the passenger compartment. There's a lot of other air out there begging to get in than the exhaust. Faced with this situation in the past, I would just run the truck for 5-10 minutes at a time, but it caused me to wake up every 20 minutes because of the cold.
 
Messages
19,528
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Extended idling okay for gasoline engine? No, it's not good for engine, but I rather stay warmed than freeze to death. If you need to idle your engine for extended period, then you should shorten the OCI by a 1k miles or two.
 
Messages
237
Location
Minneapolis
Shouldn't hurt the vehicle at all unless the thermostat is not functioning properly. We have a couple of 1997 chevy 4wd pickups with toolbox carriers on them that pretty much idle most of the winter months when they are on jobsites. We change oil on them at 6-7k miles and they probably have an additional 300-400 hours idling. The UOA's look good, Both have 125-135k on the odometer. Both may be retired this year. The local GM rep came by and offered us a really good deal on some new 4wd W/T's
 
Messages
237
Location
Minneapolis
One thing I forgot to mention, when napping in a running vehicle, point the windshield into the wind if possible. Keeps the CO level down.
 
Messages
1,714
Location
CA.
 Originally Posted By: Gary Allan
You'll be fine. Hundreds of state and local police are doing it right now ..and will in the middle of summer.
As long as the exhaust is exiting the car, and not blocked by a snow drift you should be fine. As Gary said the police do it all the time. I would think it is better for the engine, than shutting it off then restarting it and running it again to get heat. Besides doing that you'll never get any rest. JMO AD
 
Messages
35,994
Location
ME
I idled my car with the valve cover off for 5 seconds and there was tons of oil spraying everywhere. Am sure it's fine. They make remote starters, some as cheap as $20, that have "pit stop" mode where they run 5 min every hour. Would that wake you up? Maybe, but you'd probably get used to it. Cars get clammy with a human inside and cold temps outside. I'd bring a good "mummy" sleeping bag to go with occasional heat.
 
Messages
4,429
Location
Southeast
2 gallons per hour idling in the 3.0 pathfinder, 3.3 minivan and 2.2 subaru I "lived" in during my night school years. M
 
Messages
1,446
Location
Perris, CA
 Originally Posted By: meep
2 gallons per hour idling in the 3.0 pathfinder, 3.3 minivan and 2.2 subaru I "lived" in during my night school years. M
That seems a bit high, considering driving at 60 mph for the same amount of time at 30 mpg will use the same amount of fuel. That being said, taxis probably idle more than they move, and they last forever.
 
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