How Long Can a Car Sit Before the Battery Dies?

How Long Can a Car Sit Before the Battery Dies?
| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

Maybe this has happened to you before. You take some time off to visit family, go on vacation or holiday somewhere. You’re back home and ready to go to work, but your car battery is dead. Why? It worked just fine before you left. Well, did you know that, left unused, a car battery will lose its charge and eventually die? True story! But how long can a car sit before the battery dies?

Today, we turn to our team of expert auto mechanics to teach us how long a car can sit before the battery dies, how to know if your car battery is dead, and what you can do to prevent your battery from dying in the future.

How Long Can a Car Sit Before the Battery Dies?

According to Interstate Batteries, the battery in your car can last anywhere between 4 weeks and 2 months before it dies, but there are a lot of variables in that statement. How old is the battery? Is it sitting in the sun all day every day? Have there been other issues prior to the car sitting, a failing alternator for example? Due to so many variables we recommend playing it safe by not letting your car sit longer than 2 weeks, but we’ll talk more about this shortly.

How Can You Tell If Your Car Battery is Dead?

You go to start your car and no luck – you think it’s your battery – but how do you know for sure that it’s your battery and not another mechanical problem? Look for some of these common symptoms of a dead battery:

  • Slow starting engine

  • You hear the alternator turning, but no start

  • Headlights are working, but no start

  • Vehicle starts then suddenly dies

  • Corroded connectors

  • Warped and swollen battery body

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should be able to rule out other issues that do not directly involve the battery.

How Your Car Battery Dies After Sitting for Two Weeks

Why do our car batteries run out even when they’re not being used? While our cars are more technologically advanced than ever, this comes at a cost. Due to the various gadgets and computer technology manufacturers include in our vehicles, the newest models coming off the line are always on, continually monitoring the car’s systems around the clock.

In other words, your car battery is constantly being used. When you’re driving, your alternator is actively recharging your car’s battery. When the car isn’t regularly being used, there’s nothing recharging the battery, and that leads to a dead battery in as short of a time as two weeks. Think of it like a smartphone. You can use your smartphone for months without ever powering it off…as long as you charge it when the battery gets low. Even if you place your smartphone in a drawer and do nothing with it for two days, you’ll discover when you pick it back up that your phone’s battery is either much lower or dead, because there are features on your phone that are constantly running.

My Car Battery Dies if Not Driven for Three to Five Days

If you find that your car battery is dead after not being driven for only a few days, there may be anunderlying issue causing this such as:

  • Corroded battery connections

  • An electrical issue drawing power

  • Parasitic drain causing battery loss

  • Poor alternator performance (remember, your alternator is like a phone charger)

  • Extreme hot or cold temperatures

How Can You Prevent Your Car Battery from Dying?

Inspired by Hasbro©, we have 3 suggestions to help your car battery last longer.

Twist it (crank it). The easiest thing you can do to prevent your car battery from dying is to start your car once a week and let it run anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. You can even take it for a drive around the block, which should provide just enough power to recharge the battery and keep it alive for another week or so.

Bop it (charge it). To help make sure your battery doesn’t lose charge in storage, you can even invest in a float charger. This device periodically charges your battery if the voltage drops below a certain level. Use of solar battery chargers is also a great way to keep your battery charged. The cables connect to the battery and are attached to a simple solar panel that can be placed on your roof or dashboard. This helps your battery keep a healthy charge without much extra thought, helping you avoid a stranded car with a dead battery. This option is especially perfect for those who don’t have the room to store a car battery or simply don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Pull it (store it). If you know you won’t be using your car for a while or won’t be able to recharge it weekly, it may be best to disconnect it completely from the vehicle. When stored properly out of the car in a well-ventilated area, a detached car battery has the chance to last up to six months. If you decide to store your vehicle battery, make sure to follow these 5 tips:

  • Clean before storing

  • Store the battery fully charged (after a lot of driving)

  • Check the battery every 12 weeks and charge as needed

  • Store in a well-ventilated area

  • Ensure a consistent temperature of 50-60°F (if this isn’t possible, it is acceptable to store in a cool, clean, uncluttered closet inside your home)

Christian Brothers Automotive Is Your Local Battery Service & Replacement Professionals

If you’re searching for battery services for your vehicle, our team can help. Regardless of the make, model, or type of vehicle you have, our expert team is fully trained in delivering just about any battery service you need, helping you get on the road quickly after a dead battery.

Whether you’re dealing with corroded terminals or a dead unit, you can rely on our local auto mechanics to inspect your battery and provide the necessary service or replacement!

Need your battery serviced or replaced? Locate your nearest Christian Brothers Automotive shop today to schedule your service from our team of professionals! Our online appointment setting feature allows you to pick a time that works with your schedule. If you need assistance setting up that appointment, give us a call! See you soon!

This blog was written in July, 2021, and was updated in August, 2023, to reflect current industry standards and best practices.

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