Some people use their cars daily. For others, however, it can be sitting in the garage for months. If that’s the case, then you are probably wondering – how long does a car battery last without driving?
There is no single best way to answer such a question. Different factors come into play, including the type of battery and vehicle, weather conditions, and maintenance.
Read on to learn more, and we’ll also share some tips to extend your battery’s lifespan when it is sitting unused.
How Long Does Car Battery Last Without Driving?
Your car’s battery can last two to four weeks when it is unused. Nonetheless, take note that this is not an absolute number but a consensus amongst experts and users. It can last shorter or longer depending on different factors, such as the external environment.
New Car Battery
In this case, new refers to a battery that has never been used or installed in a car. This includes those that you can find for sale in stores or a battery that you might have bought but never used before. In general, they can last three to five years. The lifespan is longer if you store it properly, such as in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Connected Car Battery
When the battery is connected to your car, the lifespan is two to four weeks. Recharge the battery while it is in your car every few weeks to make it last longer. Inspect it regularly as well to find signs of corrosion and other problems indicative of wear.
Disconnected Car Battery
If you want the car battery to last longer, it is best to disconnect it from your car. In this case, the average lifespan can be as long as six months. To make it last longer, recharging it at least once every 12 weeks will help.
The Most Common Reasons for Failure of Car Battery When Not Used
Even if you are not using your car, the battery can suffer from significant problems that will shorten its lifespan. Below are some of the reasons for such:
The external thermal conditions have a huge impact on the car battery life when it is unused. Extremely high and low temperatures can be damaging to the battery, even when it is just sitting in the garage.
In a lead-acid battery, you will find lead plates with electrolyte liquid. They exhibit electrochemical reactions to charge the terminals. When it is too hot, the chemical activity accelerates. Not to mention, it also results in internal corrosion, which reduces the battery’s lifespan.
Meanwhile, cold temperatures can lead to frequent breakdowns. Even when you are not driving your car, the extreme cold can be damaging. At around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a battery can lose up to 60% of its operating strength. It can freeze over time.
Even if the car battery is just sitting in a garage or unused in the hood, it can still be prone to leaking. The failure to implement proper care and maintenance and the environmental conditions are some factors that can trigger such. The damage to the cell caps and the body can trigger leaks.
More so, dirt and dust can accumulate on the battery when it is unused. In turn, these particles will carbonize and create electrical conduction, which will drain the battery even when your car isn’t running.
The long-term storage of a car battery without using it can lead to deep discharge. Its voltage can drop below 12 volts, which can compromise its performance. Plus, it increases the internal resistance of the battery cells, making it difficult to charge after.
Even after turning off the engine, the components of your car may continue pulling power from the battery. This is a condition known as parasitic drain. Different parts like the computer, internal clock, and power mirrors can use and drain your battery even without the engine running.
Tips and Tricks to Extend the Battery Lifespan
Increase the lifespan of your car battery by doing the following:
Start by Choosing the Right Battery
The most important thing is to pick the best car battery. If it has top-notch quality, you can expect that it will last longer even if it remains idle for a while.
- Flooded Lead Acid Battery: This is the oldest type of car battery and also one of the most affordable. It is also called a starting, light, and ignition battery. The battery has a short charge cycle, which means that you will need to recharge it often. On average, the lifespan ranges from four to eight years.
- Lithium-ion Battery: It is not as popular as other car battery types as it is more commonly used in electric vehicles. It weighs less than traditional batteries without compromising its power. The average lifespan ranges from five to ten years.
- Lead Acid Battery: If you are looking for a car battery that requires minimal maintenance, this is a great pick. It is sealed, which prevents leaks, especially during long-term storage. Depending on the quality, some can last up to 12 years.
- Gel Cell Battery: It is similar to a flooded battery, with the biggest difference being that it is non-spillable. It has silica in its electrolytes, which creates a gel-like consistency. With this, you can store it in several positions without leaks and fumes. Plus, it is maintenance-free, so it can last a long time.
Even if your car is stuck in the garage, corrosion is still a problem that will shorten its lifespan. One of the best preventive measures is to clean it regularly using a mixture of water and baking soda.
A can of soda can also do the trick. Keeping the battery dry and clean is a must. When there is no corrosion, the car battery will retain its peak condition over time, which will also make it longer-lasting.
The right environment has a huge role in the longevity of an unused battery, so pay attention to proper storage. Keep it in a dry, cold, dark, and well-ventilated area. Ideally, the temperature should range from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid extreme temperatures as such will speed up the discharge rate.
When your car is parked for a long time, do not forget to test often. Invest in a car battery tester, so you will know the voltage in an instant. This will let you monitor how well you are maintaining the battery.
If it goes below the recommended voltage, then it is time to act immediately, such as by charging the battery once every 12 weeks.
Disconnect the Battery
If you do not plan to drive your car for an extended period, it is best to disconnect the battery. This will prevent electrical systems like the clock and computer from draining battery juice even when the car isn’t running. Once you disconnect the battery, make sure to store it properly.
On average, a car battery lasts two to four weeks without driving when it is connected to a car. When it is disconnected as a part of a long-term storage solution, the lifespan is around six months. Meanwhile, you can store a brand new battery for up to five years, provided that it is in an ideal environment.