Dear Tom and Ray:
We have a '95 Toyota Camry LE with a V-6 engine. I just got off the phone with my husband, and he told me he parked the car at his office this morning, removed something from the trunk and walked away with not only the key left in the ignition, but the car still running! The parking attendant came into the office with his car key -- six hours later! I am bringing the car in on Wednesday for new brakes and an oil change, but I'd like to know beforehand what potential damage could have occurred while it was idling for six hours. I don't necessarily want to tell the Toyota mechanic, for fear that he will use it as an excuse for some major repair. So, please let me know if I should bring it in for repairs, or push it off a cliff. Many thanks. -- Vivienne
RAY: The car will be fine, Vivienne. But you might want to push the husband off a cliff.
TOM: No damage was done at all, if we exclude your husband's ego. As long as the cooling system is working like it should, a car can idle practically forever without sustaining any damage.
RAY: After all, if you drove the car for six hours, you wouldn't push it off a cliff, would you? And idling is a lot easier on the car than actual driving.
TOM: So, it's your husband who needs the attention, Vivienne. He needs less stress in his life. Sign him up for a yoga class. But when he goes, remind him to take the car key in with him.