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Aug 1, 2023

8 min. read

Your driving habits may have changed over the past few years. Maybe you are working from home a few days out of the week or back to commuting on transit or riding your bike more in the beautiful, sunny weather.

On the plus side, you are helping the environment by driving less. But on the other hand, if your car isn't driven for a while, the battery can lose its charge.

How to avoid draining your car battery.

Today, cars have more than just a clock and radio. They’ve got infotainment systems, sensors, alarms and numerous onboard computers. Even when your car is off, these gadgets can drain your battery and make it hard to start.

So, how can you make sure your battery is getting enough charge if you’re only using it occasionally or not at all?

Driving your vehicle is one way to recharge your car battery. The automotive experts at CAA Auto Advice say that driving your car for 20-30 minutes will help. Short distance trips may not be enough to get a full charge so be sure to check your driving time.

If you’ve decided to park your vehicle for the foreseeable future, the ideal option for keeping your battery charged is to purchase and install a battery tender. This device has two claws that attach to your battery’s terminals like jumper cables. It then plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet and automatically delivers small amounts of electricity to keep the battery charged during periods of inactivity. You can purchase one online and have it shipped directly to your door from shopwithcaa.com.

Idling your car to charge the battery does more harm than good.

Some people suggest idling your car for 15-20 minutes to recharge the battery, but this is not always recommended. Many modern cars are equipped with sophisticated battery management systems that are designed to help extend battery life. This technology may also limit your car’s ability to charge at low RPMs. Unless you’re moving at higher speeds, the battery may be getting little charge.

The engine contaminates the car’s oil faster, reducing its ability to protect the engine. Cars are not designed to idle for an extended time so the increased exhaust particles will begin to carbon-up the engine causing lack of performance, increased emissions and eventually component failure (i.e. catalytic convertor).

Condensation builds up in the exhaust and without the high airflow from driving, the vehicle isn’t able to blow this buildup of water out of the tailpipe. Eventually, this will cause the exhaust system to rot and prematurely fail.

The exhaust generated from your vehicle pollutes the air even more so than normal. More exhaust particles are created through idling than at any other time which is bad for the environment and for our combined efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.

A woman sitting in the driver's seat of a car.

How to make your battery last longer.

Car batteries last on average three to five years. Depending on various conditions like weather and how you drive, some batteries can even last up to six years. Here are some ways to keep your car’s power supply running efficiently.

  • Get your car battery tested twice a year by a professional. Your CAA Mobile Battery Technician can safely test your battery and determine its condition.

  • Avoid exposing your car to extreme temperatures. Very hot or cold conditions can decrease the lifespan of your battery.

  • Clean the top of your car battery. Make sure the battery terminals are tight and free of corrosion so they can function properly. Use an old toothbrush with a mixture 15 ml of baking soda with 250 ml of boiling water to scrub the terminals clean. Ensure your car isn’t running and has cooled down before you start cleaning the battery terminals.

  • Turn off all the lights. Once you’ve parked, remember to turn off your headlights, the lights for your trunk, glove box, door or other interior lights that can take a toll on your battery.

We’re here to help.

If you're ever in need, CAA's all-in-one Battery Service1 will come to you. Our expert technicians will test your old car battery and if you need a new one, they can replace it on the spot. Call *222 to book an appointment or visit caasco.com/battery to learn more.

Terms & Conditions

1This will count as one (1) service call unless a new battery is purchased at the time of the call. CAA mobile Battery Service Member benefit subject to availability by geographical area. Call: 1-800-222-4357 for location details.
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