Nowadays, your car is probably staying parked in your garage for longer periods of time. While this can be nice for saving money on gas and other maintenance, it’s not an ideal situation for your car’s battery.

This leads to an important question: Can a car battery go dead from sitting? Yes, it can. Even while your car is collecting leaves on its hood, your car battery is always being used in some fashion, which means it will continue to drain. That’s mainly because it’s still powering your car’s alarm system, climate control, computer systems, and any other electrical features it has on board. Plus, if you live in an extremely hot climate, you need to be aware that heat can cause your battery to lose its charge faster.[1]

If you don’t plan on driving for a while, it’s probably worth your time to learn the answers to these questions: How long can a car battery sit unused? And how do I store the battery to extend its life?

How long does a car battery last without driving?

A car battery will typically last about four weeks, but it will vary based on your vehicle and age of the battery.[1],[2] As mentioned, a car battery dies fast in hotter weather, but its discharge will also be accelerated if your vehicle has more high-end electronics to power.[1]

When your car is not in use, keeping a battery charged is difficult because the alternator doesn’t have the opportunity to do its job. The alternator is essentially a generator for your car’s electrical system.  It helps the battery maintain its charge, and it delivers energy to other electrical components, such as the headlights, interior lights, and stereo.[1]

New car battery

The average car battery life for new models is three to four years. Keep in mind that this is the case only when your car is being driven regularly. An unused new battery will have a much shorter life span if it’s not recharged often.[2]

Disconnected car battery

Your battery will drain faster when it’s connected to your vehicle than when it’s disconnected. When stored properly, a detached car battery can last up to six months. Like new batteries, the key to making it last is to recharge it regularly. Giving the battery a charge every 12 weeks is a good standard to follow.[3]

How to store a car battery

If you expect your car battery to sit unused for more than a month, you should consider removing the battery and storing it away. This will help reduce wear on your battery and allow it to better hold its charge in the long run.

Now, there’s a lot more to storing your battery than just placing it on a shelf in your garage. Follow these steps for battery storage[4] :

1. Make sure the battery is fully charged

Always store your battery at full charge. This will help prevent most damage and deterioration that can happen while in storage.

2. Look for possible damage

Batteries can sometimes crack or corrode with age, so inspect your battery for any sort of damage. It may need to be replaced if the damage is serious.

3. Clean up the battery

Corrosion and electrolyte buildups should be cleaned before the battery is put away. Grime such as this can interfere with the terminals, causing the battery to discharge faster.

The easiest way to clean a battery at home is by applying a mixture of baking soda and water and scrubbing with a wire brush. Once you’ve taken care of the deposits, wipe down the battery’s casing according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Find the right storage location

While you should count on your battery discharging in some capacity while it’s in storage, you can take measures to limit the amount of power that is depleted. Outside of the length of time your battery is stored, the main factor that will impact your battery’s discharge rate is temperature.

Ideally, you want to keep a battery in a dry, well-ventilated area that remains between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid spots that could get too hot or cold, as it could make the battery discharge faster. In addition, keep away from places with excess humidity; this can cause the battery to corrode.

5. Recharge the battery regularly

Monitoring your battery while it’s in storage is crucial to maximizing its life. Make it a point to check in on your battery at least every 12 weeks (though the more frequent, the better). If possible, test the voltage with a voltmeter to gauge how much power your battery has left. When it’s at 70% charge or less, recharge it.

What to do if your battery is dead

In the event your car battery dies from sitting too long, try jump-starting your car. This will usually get your car going again if your battery and vehicle are in relatively good condition. If that doesn’t work, it’s probably time for a replacement battery.[5] Also check to see if there are any signs of a bad alternator. Get in touch with your preferred mechanic to see what your options are.

Keeping your battery in decent shape is just as important as making sure you and your vehicle have the right protection. Here are five things to know when it comes to car insurance.

 

[1] “How often do I need to use my car to prevent battery death?”

[2] “How Long Can a Car Battery Sit Unused”

[3] “How Long Does a Car Battery Last Without Driving? (Save The Battery)”

[4] “How to properly store a vehicle battery”

[5] “My car has been sitting and the battery is dead. Now what?”

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