Monday, August 22, 2016

Can I Idle my Fuse

One of the main reasons in the South to run the generator on the Fuse is to have air conditioning.    Air Conditioning is a must as temperatures get into the 80s and above.  For those of us with pets, it is even more important if we leave them in the motorhome and go exploring.

The Fuse generator is powered by LP gas.  The Fuse only has a 10 gallon tank so this is a concern for many people.  Refilling the tank is not a problem if you are staying at campgrounds or in most areas, but in a few places getting LP is problematic.

So what about just cooling the Fuse with the dash air?  It is actually a larger A/C than the mach10 unit on the roof and can keep the entire vehicle cool with a little help stirring the air in the back.   To do this, the question is is it safe to idle the ford Transit 3.2l diesel engine for a period of time measured in hours.

The short answer is yes.

Now to the discussion:  I asked Ford about idling the engine for an extended period when it was set up like the Fuse.  The Fuse comes with the Motorhome package which has some features that helps with idling.  I asked three places and got 3 answers that were in the affirmative, but two of them were not very convincing.

The question I asked was this:
"I have a Winnebago Fuse motorhome that is built on a Ford Transit 350HD with the 3.2l Powerstroke diesel engine and Motorhome Prep package.   I would like to idle the engine for an extended period, somewhere between 1 hour and 8 hours with the air conditioning running.   Is this OK to do ?   If so, are there any special precautions I should take, different lubricants I should use, changes in the maintenance schedule, etc. or is the diesel Transit designed to do this as is?
The first answer was:
 I am summarizing: You might have to change the oil more often.  At 2500 miles, but it became obvious that they thought I had a Gas engine towards the end.
The second answer was:
"The information I was able to find in your owner manual recommends not idling over grass or other combustible material, as well as not idling for long periods of time for fuel consumption purposes. " 
The third answer was:
"... Ford found no specific restrictions regarding idle time.  They reported that there is a potential issue with the Diesel particulate filter,  where soot accumulation in the filter cannot easily be burned off at idle.  They stated that as long as the owner is able to drive the vehicle a sufficient distance at speed and load to regenerate the DPF after they get a cluster warning message,  then it should be fine.  They also caution about idling over grass or other potentially flamible materials."
The last answer I received from a Ford dealer was that if you were going to idle a Ford Transit for an extended period then the diesel engine was the one you wanted for this task.   It is being used by emergency service and utility vehicles for this exact purpose.

Regarding the oil and lubricants.  Ford said to follow the manual and the computer will let you know when it is time to change the oil.  It uses several different inputs to determine when the oil should be changed  with one of them being idle time.  Excessive idling will cause the oil to need to be changed more frequently but the change interval is not just dependent on that one factor.

This is the information from Ford.   There are several other things that should also be considered.

How do you secure your vehicle if you walk away and leave it running?   

Unattended idling is against the rules in many places.  In about 20% of the United States this will get you a ticket of up to $200.00 for your first offense.  It may void your Insurance if the vehicle is stolen while idling unattended.

Idling is against the law in some places

Some places have made idling for an extended period against the law for pollution purposes.  Most of these laws affect commercial vehicles but in some places it is for all vehicles. This is mostly in cities, but it is another factor to consider.  A list maintained by the US Dept. of Energy is located here:

So what am I going to do?

This is just me.  If I am at a rest stop or at a place where the big rigs are idling then I am going to idle.  I will be with the vehicle so I feel good about it not disappearing.  Idling for a period of time at a rest stop should also not cause any real issues with the particulate filter since I will be back on the road shortly and giving the re-gen process time to work if necessary.

I know it will keep me cool for a nap or lunch since I have done it.  In 95 degree heat, in the full sun, the dash air will keep the interior of the Fuse cool.

As far as running it when the vehicle is not occupied by a human.  I am going to continue to run the generator.  That is what it is for and will avoid any issues with local authorities and idling laws.

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