how to keep a car battery charged when not in use

5 Tips On How To Keep A Car Battery Charged When Not In Use

If you’re planning on going for a trip, you might be wondering if you’ll come back and find your battery is still in good condition. It is also quite understandable that you might be thinking of taking the bus considering the hiked fuel prices. Either way, you’ll learn some tips to keep a car battery charged when not in use. 

If you plan on not using your car for a while, you will need these tips on keeping a car battery charged when not in use. A battery is an essential part of your car because, without it, there are systems that won’t work, and you won’t even be able to use your ignition or start the vehicle. A car battery sitting unused for a long time could cause some problems or even die completely. These car battery tips below will help keep your battery strong and charged throughout. 

What does a car battery do for the car?

Even though you might think a car battery to be mundane, it performs many roles in your car. Try starting your car without a battery, and you’ll see how important it is; your car won’t start, and if by some miracle it does, it won’t go very far. Now that cars are becoming more electric and have more functions, these functions are being added to the list of things your battery has to do. A dead or a weak battery could cause you to be stranded in the middle of the road. 

Here are some roles of car battery

  1. Starting the engine- A battery’s most crucial function is starting the engine. A battery contains acid and plate materials interacting in a specific order to create negative and positive charges, including byproduct materials. These car battery components make a chemical reaction that produces electricity that travels out of the battery to start your car. So, when you turn your key or press the start button, the battery’s chemical energy is converted into electricity which then spreads to other parts of the car that need it, and the engine roars to life. It is crucial to choose the size of your battery depending on your engine’s size. 
  2. It powers the ignition system- When you turn your ignition key, you’re sending a message to initiate a chemical reaction like the one we explained above. When the battery starts the car’s ignition system, it links up to all the other features in the vehicle, even turning on its security features. When turning on the car’s ignition, you’ll find out whether there’s something wrong with the car’s ignition system. A car battery supplies all other electronic devices with electricity even when the engine isn’t running. 
  3. Working with the alternator- Your car battery works with the alternator to power other electronic processes in your car. As the name suggests, the alternator alternates the current, turning it into electrical energy. If your alternator functions correctly, it’s supposed to power your radio, air conditioning, lights, wipers, airbag system, and even auxiliary connected devices. Even though the battery is what provides the initial burst of energy, the alternator is what keeps the electronics going and charges the battery too. While driving your car, the car battery can’t die because the alternator keeps charging it. 
  4. Regulates voltage- Sometimes, when specific systems in your car get overworked, they produce power surges which can cause damage to your car and other electronics. Your car battery is vital as it helps prevent these power surges from happening. A car battery absorbs all the extra voltage that other parts produce. A battery is a good alternator backup as it protects your car systems, and if your alternator dies, the battery will take over. 
  5. Storing power- The same way you have a power bank for backup similarly equates to the role of a battery in your car. A battery ensures the sustainability of your car’s energy system. Once you start your vehicle, the alternator recharges the battery, ensuring that every electrical part of the car gets power and runs smoothly. As you keep driving, the battery gets recharged, storing chemical energy you will use the next time when starting your vehicle. 

How long does a car battery stay charged? 

If you’re thinking of taking an extended vacation, you might be wondering if you’ll come back to a dead battery or not. How long your battery stays charged depends on the type of vehicle, weather, and battery life. For example, if you leave your car parking, you should expect your battery to lose its charge within two to three months. If it goes past two months, you’ll be pushing your luck because, at around two and a half months, your battery won’t have enough power to start your car. 

Your car battery will die even when you’re not behind the wheel because it still does some functions even when you’re not driving it. When your car is off, the battery powers the alarm, dashboard clock, alarm, and radio, but if you leave your car lights on overnight by accident, then don’t expect your battery to survive since it will most likely die. When exploiting how long your battery charge will last, you must also consider the weather. Extreme weather, such as when it’s hot or too cold, will affect your battery. 

How long should a battery last without driving?

Your car can sit parked for four weeks to two months before your battery dies. The reason for the difference in length of time is because how long your battery keeps charge depends on its condition, the battery type, the weather, and the state in which you left your battery (whether it was fully charged or not). The systems in your car, such as the clock, alarms, and others, will keep draining your battery even when you’re not driving your vehicle. 

Your battery dies when you don’t drive your car for too long because, in normal circumstances, the alternator charges your battery when you’re going. But when you’re not, the battery isn’t recharged hence the power drained by other systems in the car. If your car sits unused for an extended period, your battery could take a hard hit. For example, if your battery is older than three years, it could ultimately result in you buying a new battery. 

Why does my car battery die after sitting for a few days? 

If you find yourself with a dead battery whenever you go without driving your car for a few days, there are a couple of things that could be causing the problem. Some problems could result from a weak battery, while others could lead to your battery’s death. Reasons, why your car battery dies after sitting a few days, include: 

  • Corroded or loose battery connections- Loose battery connections or corroded wires could prevent your battery from charging sufficiently. When your battery concessions aren’t in place, it won’t charge as it should when you’re driving. 
  • Leaving your dome or headlights on will drain your battery. Even the dim interior lights are enough to drain your battery, leaving you stranded in the morning. Sometimes the cause for these lights staying on could be a malfunction in your system. 
  • A weak battery may not hold a charge for long. If you find that small drains like the memory function in your car radio deplete your battery, then it’ weak. 
  • Extreme weather (either hot or cold) will cause a weak battery to die. Severe weather also magnifies other underlying issues that were in your car. 
  • Parasitic drains in your car could kill your battery. The most common ones include glove boxes and trunk lights that remain on or come on when they shouldn’t. 
  • Charging system problems- Let’s say your battery dies when you’re driving, this means that your charging system could be at fault. Other charging system issues include stretched or loose belts preventing the alternator from working. 

5 Tips on how to keep a car battery charged when not in use

There are many ways to ensure your battery maintains its charge even when you’re not planning to drive your car for a while. 

Remove your car battery. 

If you plan on not driving your car for a prolonged time, you will need to disconnect the battery and take it out. Doing so will help maintain it and prevent it from draining fast. To ensure it stays in good condition, you should store your battery in a dry environment with temperatures between forty and sixty degrees. Consider buying a battery box to ensure it stays in optimal condition when storing it. After you’ve extracted your car battery, it could last between six weeks and six months. Ideally, you should charge the battery before three months have elapsed if you still don’t have a use for it. 

Get a battery maintainer. 

You can use a battery maintainer if you don’t want the hassle of removing the battery from your car. A maintainer will provide enough energy to keep your battery going, and it turns off once your battery is fully charged. It will then reactivate when your battery charge drops to a certain level. When purchasing a battery maintainer, ensure that you look for one with the same voltage as your car battery. 

Disengage the security system 

If you’re going to park your car in secure parking, you can disengage your car’s security system. The alarm of your vehicle also tends to drain your car battery, and leaving it on will drain the battery quickly. But if you have to leave the alarm on, you should drive your car frequently for a few minutes to recharge the battery. 

Disconnect the negative battery terminal 

Computers, clocks, and security alarms will continue to drain your car’s battery even after you’ve turned it off. This form of drainage is commonly referred to as parasitic drain or key-off battery drain, and it could kill a weak battery if you leave your car parked for multiple weeks without driving it. By disconnecting the negative battery terminal, it means that you’re ultimately disconnecting the battery from the chassis ground. But if you disconnect the positive terminal, it could slip accidentally and damage other electrical parts of the car. 

Drive your car once a week for 30 minutes 

Your car’s electrical systems drain the battery slowly, which adds up, eventually making the battery lack enough juice to crank up and start your vehicle. Preferably, you can drive your car for thirty minutes weekly, which will keep your battery charged. If you drive it like this weekly, you will maintain your battery charge even when it’s maintaining the other electrical requirements in your car. 

Final thoughts 

If you’re having battery problems and you’re having doubts about its reliability, you may need to have it checked by a professional. If your battery is over three years old, then that could explain why it won’t store charge for long. These days you can find technology that quickly identifies a battery on its last legs, giving you a heads up to purchase a new one. If you have a good battery, the above tips will help keep your battery charged even when you’re not using your car.