Is it safe to sleep in the car with heater/engine on? [Archive] - Honda Element Owners Club Forum

: Is it safe to sleep in the car with heater/engine on?

12-02-2005, 02:27 PM
I want to go snowboarding in mammoth this weekend, but couldn't find company or a place to stay. Is it ok to sleep in the car with the heater on? What if for a just a few hours?
Is there a way to keep really warm without having the heater on? Maybe a really really good sleeping bag?

Thanks so much

12-02-2005, 02:34 PM
I've bee night supervising and sitting in my E watching movies at night for hours with the heat on with no problems. You will burn about 1/8 of your gas but no problems. And I tried sleeping with the car off, but it got cold FAST!

12-02-2005, 02:59 PM
Here's an extended 'staying warm' thread:

I vote for the warm sleeping bag.

12-02-2005, 03:16 PM
I've slept in a little Toyota Corolla in deep snow before. Up by Sequoia in the Sierras. Wear plenty of polarfleece, and also have a nice warm bag, and you will be fine. Don't bother asphyxiating yourself with the heater.

12-02-2005, 03:20 PM
Skuba, you might want to be careful of where you park & sleep at night. If I remember correctly, the town of Mammoth Lakes & the ski area parking lots have restrictions on parking. I don't think you can park a car & sleep in it overnight in the ski area lot & the city streets are generally kept clear for the snowplows. I might be wrong, but you should check into it.
On a different note, Mammoth did get 2-3 feet of snow yesterday:grin:

12-02-2005, 05:44 PM
That's why I am so crazy about going. I am trying to find people to split gas.

Plus I cound't find as place to sleep, so the car might be an alternative.

12-02-2005, 06:19 PM
I just saw a news story of a family going to the hospital, due to carbon monoxide poisoning. When cold weather hits it seems to happen to somebody every year.
If you do sleep in the car, just venting a window may not be enough. Carbon monoxide is heavier than oxygen.
I'd go with the down bag.

12-02-2005, 08:56 PM
It's never smart to sleep with the engine running. There are too many ways for carbon monoxide to get back in. When you are asleep you'd be less likely to rouse yourself even if you did smell exhaust. Don't risk it; you could wake up dead, so to speak.

12-02-2005, 09:16 PM
Every few days I tend to park on the commute home and either just sit and relax or fall asleep in the back. I tried running the heat while I was parked but was worried of burning too much gas as well as getting asphyxiated. I would definitely look into a nice thick blanket or sleeping bag. Has anyone thought about using a portable heat via the A/C slot?

12-02-2005, 11:40 PM
Have you considered just driving back down to Bishop. Only about a 45-60 minute drive, and you could get a hotel room. I think there are also a couple of year-round RV campsites - if you have access to a RV.

Just a thought or two...

12-03-2005, 01:54 AM
From a Minnesota winter survival guide:
Run Vehicle for Ten Minutes Every Hour
Operate the heater and keep your overhead light on to remain visible for rescuers. Keep the exhaust pipe clear to prevent fumes from entering the vehicle, and always leave a down-wind window open slightly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, keep the radiator free of snow to prevent overheating.

North Dakota says:
Run the engine sparingly. Start with15 minutes every hour and adjust if needed.
Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow. If the cold is extreme, it may be necessary to keep the engine running continuously. It may not restart if shut off.
Keep your feet off the floor if the heater is not on.
Never go to sleep with the engine running.
Read to pass the time.

12-03-2005, 11:27 PM
what about one of those 12v electric heaters? tho I'd buy one with a battery rundown protection feature. the cheapo ones are about $10 at Harbor Freight. or even a 12v electric blankie? I'd feel anxious about running the car while sleeping. or what if you get a battery-op CO detector to keep inside with you? we use one in the tent when we want to run the propane tank heater for a while. you might also think about putting a tarp over the car to help hold in heat, though it makes it obvious that you're sleeping in the car.

we slept in a pickup bed w/shell at Cedar Grove in mid October one year. it was so cold the dish soap froze in the bear box but no snow. many bears sighted in camp so afraid to get up for the inevitable midnight pee. cracked the tailgate and that was about it.

we jsut used to tarp over the truck, and were fairly comfortable unless someone moved and caused a leak in my carefully tucked cocoon of sleeping bags & blankets. but this was in a metal truck bed with a metal shell. you should be pretty cozy in the E.

12-04-2005, 12:46 AM
On a number of camping trips, I found that the early morning temperature inside the Element is about 10 F warmer than inside. That varies some with location inside the car. Covers over the windows, especially the skylight, reduce the inside heat loss early in the evening, but probably don't make much difference in the long run.

Ultimately, there is no substitute for a sleeping bag that is warm enough for the outside temperatures. A heater (the car's or a separate one, such as the Coleman Power Cat) can take the edge off the cold while going to bed and getting up, but shouldn't be counted on during the night.


12-05-2005, 11:05 PM
I want to thank all you guys. I had a great day (night?) in mammoth mountain.

Well, this is what happened:

At the 8pm I left huntington beach, picked up a buddy in LA and drove up to mammoth. Arrived at 2am.
Parked at the mountain (mill cafe) parking.
I used a sleeping bag and fleece blanket and had the heat on for a little bit and then turned it off.
Just started feeling a bit cold when I was waking up, so I turned the heater on to change into snowboard clothes.

It was a perfect day, 2 feet of powder, sunny, no wind and no crowds.


12-06-2005, 03:28 PM

I have the opposite problem. I want to sleep in the car with it running so I can run the AC! And run a medical device on an inverter. Camping in a south florida summer can get a little warm, muggy, & buggy.


12-07-2005, 10:02 PM
sounds like a sweet day!

I've been doing exactly what you described. Going to sleep at 10-11pm and running the heat so I go to sleep toasty and sleeping through to the am where I can warm up again when I wake up. Only once in the adirondaks(squeeky snow cold) did I wake up cold and turn the heater on again. I'm just using a 20º bag, but with a good draft tube. With two people's breath you're keeping it warmer than outside.

If you did want something warmer, I would go for a waterbotle in the bag or a heat pack such as this:

06-05-2009, 03:19 AM
What about using a 12v heater on a timer. Be Very careful running the engine I lost some friends doing something similar. The odds of dying from freezing in a car with a good sleeping bag are very low.
The best method I have found is find someone to help you keep warm!:D:D:D
Nothing is funnier that having a cop stop by to site you for sleep in your car only to hear, "Officer, I can assure you, sleeping was the last thing on our mind."
True story:razz::razz: