I read your response to Lucie the elderly lady who...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I read your response to "Lucie," the elderly lady who wanted to know if she should start her car and let it run for a few minutes a day in the winter to keep it in good shape. You told her not to start the car, just let it sit there ("it's not a puppy - it won't get lonely"). You said that just running it in place and making short trips of a mile or two will do more harm than good. And since she drives her car very infrequently, you said it would be better if she only started her car when she was planning to drive it for half an hour or more. Well, after reading that article, my co-worker contends that he should circle the block around his bus stop for half an hour every day. I insist that since he drives more than 30 minutes each weekend at highway speeds, he can make the two mile trip to the bus stop each day without the moisture and carbon soot damaging his vehicle. Who's right?

TOM: You're right, Jackson. We were concerned that Lucie would be making a bad situation worse by starting the car every day without driving it.

RAY: But if your driving includes regular highway-speed-jaunts of a half hour or more, you should have no trouble keeping the engine clear of carbon and pretty much negating the harmful effects of short, daily drives.

TOM: Of course, avoiding short trips isn't a bad thing to do anyway. There are lots of hidden benefits. You reduce pollution, you save gasoline, and who knows, you might even get some exercise.

RAY: Bite your tongue!

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