Can it hurt to idle for a really long time?

First, the background...
I work in a hotel and we never close. When there is a snowstorm I'm expected to stay at the hotel for the duration so I can work my
shifts. But, I have 5 dogs. They can stay in the hotel room when I'm in there but they will bark if I leave them in the room while I'm working. I can't leave them home and get a pet sitter because I can't expect her to drive in the snow if I can't get around myself.
I have an Eagle Summit Wagon with the back seat out. I fill it with pads and blankets and it is comfortable for the dogs. They have toys and water. I even spent the night in there with them once (non-snow-related) and there was room for all of us. I have felt ok about leaving them in there when it is in the low 30s because they all lay together and keep warm and the car is not huge so their body heat stays with them. It's not perfect but it's not great either. But, this has been a really cold winter and I just can't do that now. During this last snow I left the car running for the whole 8-hour shift with the heat on. Everything seems ok and I only burned about 3 gallons of gas, but am I hurting the car? My car tends to burn some oil but I checked on that during the night.
If I'm doing damage, how bad is it? I am really low on options.
Thanks!
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Lyne wrote:

Yes. I used to work for a company that did on-call site work and we used to let our trucks idle for days at a time for the A/C in summer and heat in winter. A typical GM small _gasoline_ V-8 would last 1 to 2 years with only 30,000 road miles. Then they would either burn oil so bad that they would not run or the bearings would get wiped, or both.
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wrote:

How long ago was that? -- Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts:
"What, sir, is the use of militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. . . Whenever Government means to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise a standing army upon its ruins." -- Debate, U.S. House of Representatives, August 17, 1789
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AZGuy wrote:

A long, long time ago. Chevy still made the 307 and it had a carb.
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=?x-user-defined?Q??= wrote:

In hours of use it sounds like they would have had a couple hundred thousand miles on em if they had been moving. Provided your days-at-a-time estimation is correct.
For quick conversion, let's say it idles at 800-1000rpm... maybe 15mph in gear. 15mph * 24 * 365 = 131,400 miles. So the hours and hours of idling may or may not have damaged the engine. The engine itself may have lasted the life it should have. The chasis was just stationary most of the time.
Basically that sort of excessive idling makes for a very high milage engine in a low milage chasis.
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Brent P wrote:

Hmmm... You do have a point there. Our trucks idled for hours almost every day... Sometimes all night and/or all day.
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Paul wrote:

Hi, Also engine is not running at most effcient manner when idling. Idling too much can ruin cat. coverter. Tony
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Lyne wrote:

In my opinion, your dogs need to be somewhere else, like at home. Bringing them to work and making them stay in a running car seems outrageously retarded, even though you appear to have good intentions. At the very least, they should still stay in that motel room. Forget the car idea, it's not a good one. A running engine can produce carbon monoxide and if exhaust leaks into the car, it could kill your animals. Also, a burglar could get into the car and drive off. It's very irresponsible to do something like this, I guess.
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Why not get a ceramic heater for $20, run a power cord from the motel room into the car where your dogs are and then you don't need to run the car and you keep the dogs warm and eliminate most of the safety concerns I listed above. That would be a fair compromise!
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The hotel does not allow anyone to run cords from the building to the parking lot due to liability concerns if someone were to trip over the cord. We fight this with the guests all summer. They want to rent one room and then power their RVs in the parking lot on our electricity. Plus, a space heater may have tip-over protection but it does not have protection against the tail of a long-haired dog getting caught in the fan or touching the heating element, or blankets getting rearranged and bumping the heater.
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wrote:

Bringing
if
room
and
Why not get smart and make some money on this customer preference. Put in a couple of properly wired parking lot power posts, and let a customer hook up properly overnight. Make hook-up contingent on renting a room, or just rent a hook-up. Charge them $15 (or whatever is fair) for a hook-up; they can't suck your electric dry over night! And if they burn up, remember, they are safely out in the parking lot.
Ed
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Well, I explained why they can't be at home. Even if you were to suggest using a nearby neighbor instead of my pet sitter, I live in a rural area and there aren't very many people who are nearby. Again, the motel room is not an option. I tried bark collars in the past and found that they had a tendency to misfire, giving corrections even from the dogs just playing rough. I have had a recent inspection and I'm not worried about exhaust leaks. The car is parked right in front of the window so I can see them and they can see me all night. Plus, any burglar that would try to steal a car with 5 dogs in it, especially when one is a Rottie, would be a far bigger fool than I could ever be accused of being.
Irresponsible - no. Conscientious - yes.
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Lyne wrote:

On the odd chance that the car catches on fire, it would be good to park it in a safe place when running unattended.
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Hi, Idling long is not good for the engine, specially not good for cat. converter. Thought about installing programmable remote starter? You can program it to run say 15 mins. every 4 hours for an example. Tony
Lyne wrote:

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This idea does have possibilities. I understand that the starters are expensive but I'll look into it.
The thing is, catalytic converters are not really that expensive either, right? Aren't they the muffler-looking units further back in the exhaust? Also, I don't understand the nature of the damage that could happen. I was more concerned that the oil or some other engine fluid might not circulate fully.
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the owner's manual for my car says not to idle more than 30 minutes.
dogs can tolerate cold if they are accustomed to it. I left my dog in the car for 3-4 hours at -10 deg C and checked every so often. If it was colder than -10 I'd leave him home. He would curl up on the driver's seat or on the floor. He was a house dog but we took walks every day all winter. My grandfather's dog stayed outside all winter with a dog house to get out of the wind and straw for insulation.
I'd call a vet and get advice for local conditions. I'm sure there are people in your area who leave their dogs outside all winter. -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ William R Watt National Capital FreeNet Ottawa's free community network homepage: www.ncf.ca/~ag384/top.htm warning: non-freenet email must have "notspam" in subject or it's returned
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my nissan diedal love to idle the best, next it liked low low rpms and hated to do what the gas four cylinders versions has to do. That is most of the driving. for all quotes there is an equally opposite quote
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snipped-for-privacy@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (William R. Watt) wrote:

There are absolutely people that leave their dogs out all winter but these are also the hunters and fishermen that often don't value their family pets in the same way that I do. In my opinion, no dog is "comfortable" when it is 8 degrees out. I left them in the car once when it was really cold and came out to find frost on the inside of the car windows. That was unacceptable to me. I have thought of getting everybody doggie sweaters, or of filling the car with little throw-pillows made of a slippery fabric that would "pop up" around the dogs when they lay down, thus creating a blanket of sorts (think of the ball bins at Chuck E Cheeses).
The car running thing is just the most simple solution if it is not a huge deal. We are talking about six or eight 8-hour shifts per year.
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(William R. Watt) wrote:

to
*Please* leave a window cracked open to ensure fresh air.
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(William R. Watt) wrote:

to
Not addressing the long idle time, but you should consider which way the wind is blowing. I have experienced waiting a long time in a parked, idling car, where the wind changes around and wafts the exhaust back over the air intake. A very light breeze is worse than a strong breeze. The effect is like sitting behind a bus in traffic for hours.
Another thing to consider is the effect of carbon monoxide. The hemoglobin in you blood will take up a molecule of oxygen in your lungs. When it arrives at a cell, the oxygen will transfer from the hemoglobin to the cell and the hemoglobin will take up a molecule of carbon dioxide to take back to the lungs. In the lungs, the CO2 is released, and more oxygen is picked up. But with CO, the hemoglobin never releases the CO. In effect, the CO molecule captures the hemoglobin carrier. As time goes by, you run out of hemoglobin carriers, and die.
The point is, even a little CO, over many hours, can be fatal to you or your dogs. You might be watching them, right up to the minute they drop. And administering oxygen won't help them then, because all the hemoglobin carriers will be "locked up" with CO. Too late!
Ed
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