You count on your car to start up when you go to get it out to the garage, but to avoid having a dead battery you must maintain the battery properly to count on it to last a long time and to reliably start your car. For those vehicles that you do not use every day, it is important to maintain the battery properly otherwise you’ll be buying new car batteries ever few years because they will get worn FAST.
Here we dive into THE BEST WAY to maintain your car battery and why you need to, and answer some of the common questions around maintaining a car battery.
Maintaining a Car Battery
Car batteries need to be maintained because they are not designed to be drained completely. Power is needed from a car battery only for a few seconds to provide power to the starter motor to turn the engine over and get it going. There is no need for the battery to ever drain low because whenever the car is running, the battery is charged via the alternator. D
Draining a car battery completely will reduce the charge capacity of the battery permanently and should be avoided. The best thing that you can do to maintain a battery is to connect a trickle charger, which is the same thing as a battery tender. By connecting a trickle charger you will extend the life of your car battery by up to 50%.
Do I Need to Start My Car to Maintain the Battery?
Start your car at least once a month to maintain the battery. Not only do you have to start the car but also drive the car or at least let it run for 10 minutes to allow the car to warm up completely and give the car a few minutes to charge the battery.
This is one way to prevent a dead battery, but the best way is to keep a trickle charger on the battery if the car is not in use often. For a car that is used less than once a month, connect a trickle charger to the battery and leave it connected all the time to prolong the life of the battery.
How Often Should a Car that isn’t used much be Started and Driven to keep the Battery up?
A car that is seldom driven does not need to be started just to keep the battery charged. To keep the battery up in an infrequently driven car, a trickle charger should be placed on the battery and a battery tender terminal harness to easily reconnect the trickle charger without opening the hood.
Although the car that is driven very infrequently does not have to be driven only for battery charging purposes, it should be started and run until sufficiently warmed up in order to keep the car in good running condition. Read this complete guide with steps you should follow for a car that is run infrequently.
A car that is stored for a long period of time such as 6 months or more, should be cared for differently and stored properly. Read how to store a car for 6 months or more.
Battery Sleeve in Car to Prolong the Life of the Car Battery
Batteries in modern cars are often mounted in a plastic box or have a plastic sleeve. These can provide a certain amount of insulation and protection for the battery.
Purchasing a battery sleeve will not make a significant difference in extending the life of the car battery. Efforts to store the battery in a cool, dry environment and to leave the battery when not in use on a trickle charger will do much more for the battery life than spending money on a battery sleeve.
Some say these battery sleeves make a difference. Technically any amount of insulating effect will insulate the battery and in that way “makes a difference”. Most are too thin to have any measurable effect. The effect of battery sleeves is small enough that it will not make the battery last longer, so are a waste of money.
If storing the battery, then yes it can be beneficial to enclose it insulated in some way. Read this article I wrote all about proper battery storage. Storing a battery properly is necessary to allow your battery to last more that a couple years, and a battery case is discussed and recommended in the battery storage post.
Spending money on an inexpensive trickle charger, and a quick connect to your battery will have a significant effect extending the life of the battery and will also ensure that the battery in the car is charged every single time you go to start it.
Batteries store better and last longer with periodic charging. A trickle charger prevents the chemical reaction from occurring in the forward direction that is to produce electrons providing voltage from the battery. This reduces wear on the electrodes in the battery and keeps the battery able to charge to full capacity for longer.
A 12v trickle charger can significantly prolong the life of your stored battery. Go here to my resource page where you can find my recommended trickle charger/ battery tender. I have tried several and have one in particular that I like because it very easily connects to quick disconnect cables so you never even have to open the hood!
By going to my resource page you can see all of my favorite tools, and gadgets like battery tenders that I have tried and highly recommend. I receive a small affiliate commission when you buy something I have listed on my website at no extra charge to you. I appreciate the support and hope these recommendations are helpful!
Add Water to Car Battery Cells
Adding water to battery cells is another topic that falls under car battery maintenance. Check out my other article all about how to deal will checking and adding water to lead acid car batteries.
You must properly maintain a car battery by periodically checking the water level in the battery cells of a lead acid battery. Water will very slowly but gradually evaporate from the cells, and the water can potentially be spilled. Water is required for the battery to function and can simply be maintained by adding water if the water becomes low.