You have probably experienced this. For instance, when you arrive home after an exhausting day and rush to rest on your couch or when you park the car in the garage and hurry to the office and forget to turn the engine off.
Vehicles can run idle for a long time. In this state, the engine runs at a low rpm, but the drivetrain is disengaged. The car uses little fuel and can run for an extended time before the engine turns off due to insufficient fuel.
In most instances, when you forget to turn the car off, the vehicle will run normally without any issues. Gasoline car engines are designed to run while also engaging the alternator.
Even when the engine idles, the alternator runs; thus, the battery is charging. As such, all electrical systems in the car function optimally, and the engine can ideally run infinitely with unlimited fuel.
However, some modern cars will turn themselves off after being parked for some time. They include vehicles like Toyota with push-button ignitions that incorporate safety features, including flashing lights and audible beeps to alert the driver when they leave the engine running.
Most car companies today exceed all relevant safety standards required for the keyless ignition system in their cars.
What can happen when the car idles?
In most cases, if you leave the engine running, you’ll find it okay but with no gas. However, some problems might occur, including:
When the vehicle engine idles, the alternator also runs, thus charging the battery. Regardless, since it runs at slow speeds, it doesn’t charge the battery at a fast rate.
If the AC or radio is on, the battery might be drained faster than its charging. Thus, when you return to the car, it might have a dead battery.
In extreme cases, the engine might malfunction if it idles for a long time. This scenario can occur when the engine overheats due to a faulty cooling system, little or no coolant, and other issues that cause overheating.
What happens if you forget to turn off the keyless car?
Modern keyless cars only require a push button to ignite or shut down the engine. With these cars, you only need a key fob conveniently placed in the pocket or purse.
If you have the key fob with you, a push of the on/off button will start the engine. Also, to turn it off, you only need to press the button. However, it is easy to forget to turn the engine off when you leave the car, especially in a hurry.
Many cars today are very quiet, which makes them inaudible and idle. Such mistakes usually happen in hybrid vehicles since their gasoline engine does not run when the car is not moving.
It also occurs in non-hybrid vehicles since you cannot tell if the auto shuts off. Most car manufacturers are incorporating safety features to remind drivers the engine is running.
For instance, modern Toyotas feature a system of three audible beeps when it senses the key fob is outside the vehicle and the car is still on.
Nevertheless, without such safety features and automatic engine shutdown, the car can run for a long time without any issues.
Combustion engines: If the engine and the car components are in optimal conditions, the engine will idle until the fuel runs out.
In most of them, the car will run using battery power. When depleted, the vehicle will start its gasoline engine and run until the gas depletes.
Electric vehicles: These cars use very little power when the car is on but stationary. It will idle until the batteries are depleted.
How long can a car run without being turned off?
Ideally, the engine will run forever in perfect conditions with an unlimited supply of fuel or battery power. However, the time the car runs will depend on many factors, including fuel capacity, battery charge, condition of the vehicle, and electronic components, including AC, headlights, and radio.
In gasoline vehicles with a full tank of fuel, the engine can idle for 8 hours or more. However, with the AC and radio on, this time will drastically reduce since the battery will deplete.
Hybrid cars use battery power and gasoline engine to power them. For most cars, when idling, the vehicle can run for about 20 minutes with the AC on and up to 2 hours when all electronics are off before engaging the engine.
In essence, the car can idle for more than 8 hours.
Electric cars can idle for more than 24 hours since the motors are not engaged. When climate control is operating, the time will reduce considerably.
A well-tuned engine can idle for a long time without issues until the fuel runs out. However, with the AC and radio operating, the vehicle will use more battery power, leading to damage.
Most car manufacturers are incorporating safety features such as automatic engine off and audile beeps to warn drivers when they leave the car with the engine running.