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Running a car at idle while being trailered, negative effects?

I am moving from North Carolina to Louisiana the end of June. I have to bring back 6 outdoor cats and two inside dogs. I was thinking of putting the 2 dogs inside the moving truck cab and putting the cat carriers inside a 2005 Volvo S80 AWD which is being trailered behind the moving truck. It is way too hot to do this unless I leave the car at idle with the ac on. Normaly I would not do this but I thought that there should be a pretty fair amount of air passing through the radiator at 75 mph, even behind the truck. Any thoughts? The travel time would be about 15hrs.

I’ve never done it with a car on a trailer, but in the winter, I tend to leave my tractor running on the trailer between the house and farm mainly because it’s a pain in the tail to start it cold.


if i were you i would talk to a service tech at your volvo dealer and ask them. it would probably be fine. if you drive at night you could roll down the windows and shut the car off. the cats would be fine with the wind blowing through the car. hope that helps. just be sure to check on them often to make sure everything is ok.

The car should be fine, but make sure to stop frequently to check both car and cats. I would be hesitant for one reason: are exhaust fumes from the truck (or the car, for that matter) being sucked into the car?

Present your plan to the local SPCA and get their input.My concern is for the animals,if you want to do this to your car ,none of my business.

Just to let you know all six cats are rescues from local shelters, one dog was found on the side of the road almost dead nine years ago and the other is a rescue from hurricane Katrina. I didn’t go into all of rest breaks planned and hotel room purchased for these animals because this is a auto forum not an animal forum. I figure if I can shell out vet care and provide a loving home for all of these animals, some for almost ten years I can be trusted to get them to their new home safely. By the way we shelled out an extra 50k to get the biggest yard we could find so our animals could have plenty of space and another 7k having a fennce built. If I can’t be sure the animals will be comfortable I will fly back the next day, relieve my pet sitter, and rent a van to bring them home. Save your concern for the plenty of animals out there that need it and keep your smart@$$ answers relevant to this automobile forum.

They would need water regularly. Riding around with the windows down would leave the cats dehydrated…and forget about getting a motel room with that many pets.

The OP might be better off shipping the cats on an airline.

Hold on guys! Are you actually endorseing leaving two cats unattended in an idling car being trailered behind a moving truck for 15 hours???

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. If anything goes wrong, if the engine (AC) dies, if the engine overheats, if anything at all goes wrong those cats are at risk. I don’t think this is a good idea at all.

See if a remote-read thermometer will work if the sender is placed in a vehicle and the receiver is in another at about the right distance. Then take it to the truck rental place and try it again, in the truck and in a car this time. If it works, you may have a way to monitor the temp in the cat car.

You gotta get a family member or friend to drive this Volvo behind you, then pay for their flight back to N.C. Too many things can happen to the pets in a vehicle, running or not . . . not to mention what may happen to the Volvo being run at idle for 15 hours. Rocketman

Again, I have the cat side covered. I have a wireless temperature sensor that sends its signal up to 600’. I did not get into that because this is an auto forum and I had an auto question. And lastly no, as stated before, the trip will be broken up into two days with a hotel stay at the end of a 8 hr drive. There will be 15 min rest breaks every two hours. If there is anything else someone thinks I have not covered to keep my pets safe, try me. I have planned this trip for two weeks and have every detail worked out. I did not post the cat details because I had an automobile question not a cat question. I also have alternate plans if the car idea is not acceptable. I am impressed to see the amount of cat love at this site, but give a guy some credit and expert advice on the car please.

The fume issue did cross my mind. I wonder if it is any different than being in heavy traffic. I would think that the rate of speed would solve the problem. Especially with the interior air being drawn from the base of the windshield.

This question didnt even get by the, is it good for the animals thought? for me to comment on the is it good for the car?

Au contraire; it seems to me the OP has been given a number of suggestions, any of which they can choose from.

Here’s one to consider. What happens if the radiator cooling fans, which MUST be operating with the A/C running, decide
to go belly up? This means the car is going to overheat along with possibly doing some damage to the A/C system.

What happens if a thermostat sticks closed or a coolant leak develops while the OP is motoring down the road. All of a sudden they look in the rear view and notice a billowing smoke cloud; or no cloud at all if the coolant is long gone and the engine is cooked.

What happens if this remote temp sensor says it’s warmed up back there and when the OP pulls over it’s discovered the car has roasted itself or developed an oil leak and seized up? Ditto for the transmission.

Just because the vehicle is moving through the airstream does not mean for one second that it can’t barbecue itself.
There’s a lot of “what ifs” involved and that’s just a few of them.

And speaking of airflow, or the lack thereof, the car is not going to getting a lot of wind tucked in behind a box van.

Funny things happen to airflow right behind a big, boxy vehicle.

What if the Hubble Space Telescope falls from its orbit and smashes the car. What if none of us had any idea about statistics and never went outside because of the billions of things that could happen to us, allthough not very likely. I give up. This is obviously not the auto forum I thought it was.

Just ask any of the multitude of police officers that leave their K9 units idling for long periods of time to keep the dogs from overheating. These cars are almost always in to shop for repairs. Cars are not designed to idle for long periods. The K9 units may idle for up to 3 to 4 hours if they are doing crowd control, parades, or festival functions. And, they are always breaking down. Try that same crap for 15 hours straight, and I’d say get a new car. This one will be toast, even if it survives the trip. The alternator, probably the most at-risk component, will be turning at minimal speed, and be unable to keep up with the power demand. Over the long trip, it could overheat and burn out. Then, the battery would be drained completely. This too could be unsalvageable. Then, there is the idea of proper engine cooling. The engine’s at idle, the fan is turning it’s minimum speed, and your asking it to keep sufficient air flow across a radiator and condenser coils for 15 straight hours. That’s asking a lot.

These are outdoor cats. They are used to the heat. Roll the windows all the way down, and they should be fine. Stop every couple of hours, replenish the water (use oversized bottles), and check on their heat levels. I did this when my wife and I moved from FL to TN. The dogs were in carriers in her car being towed on a tow dolly. The carriers were on the seats with the windows down. We stopped at every rest area to check on them. They did just fine. Of course they hated the trip, and could not wait to get out.

since your going to break the trip into 2 days like you posted erlier. travel at night, much less traffic. most hotels will let you check in early. call ahead to be positive. then it wont be so hot on the cats and you wont risk damaging your fairly new car. good luck.

That’s a good point, BustedKnuckles. My whole family moved from New York to Texas in July 1985 in a van with no air conditioning. We had two cats and a dog at the time and they survived the trip as easily as us humans. Animals have survived millenia without air conditioning. One two-day trip without air conditioning won’t kill them if the windows are open, the car is moving, and they have penty of water.

Thanks for the imput, I didn’t think about the alternator issue.