How Long Can a Car Battery Sit Unused?

Automobiles rely heavily on their batteries. A car battery is the car component that every engine depends on for power. They store temporary energy that can be used to facilitate functions like turning on your headlights and door lights, using the radio, honking, and pushing the car in some cases. 

Every day, people wonder how long their batteries will last when they are unused. Cutting back on your automobile use is credible when you are trying to reduce your expenses, which may cause you to leave that car parked for some time. So, how long can a car battery sit unused? 

A car battery can sit unused for several years; it is all a matter of proper maintenance. 

What is a car battery’s shelf life? 

Car batteries have not been built to last forever. If anything, after their first charge, they begin to depreciate slowly. Many factors contribute to this, including the weather. 

However, the average car battery should last anywhere between two to five years. In the same vein, you can prolong its lifespan. 

a single car battery

How long will a car battery last if disconnected?

Even when your battery is not in use, it will release electrical currents. So, when it is in storage or untouched in your car hood, there are chances that it will lose a significant percentage of its power. Studies have shown us that every car battery will lose about one to twenty-five percent of its charge every month that it is not in use. 

You can prolong the lifespan by keeping connected to a trickle charger or charging it occasionally. The latter is called maintenance charging. 

How long will a disconnected car battery last?

Experts advise you to disconnect your car battery when you do not plan to use it for a significant period. If it is a new battery, it can take as long as two to three months before it will lose its full charge. On the other hand, older batteries will not last as long because they depreciate faster. 

How long can I keep a car battery on a shelf? 

You can keep your car battery on the shelf for several years, even though it is not advised. A battery only needs sufficient current to charge it and keep it alive, as opposed to discharging slowly and finally dying. 

So, if you have to keep your car battery aside for a while, you can get a trickle charger or use a standard car battery charger to charge it every two weeks. With a trickle charger, you will leave the battery constantly connected. Depending on the type you opt for, your trickle charger may turn itself on and off when your battery is fully charged. 

On the other hand, you can manually charge the battery every two weeks, but you have to take care not to forget. 

How to store a car battery 

Sometimes, it is easier to take the bus or a take a brisk walk to get wherever you are going. Alternatively, you may also be traveling for a significant period, leaving your car battery unused. Typically, all batteries discharge even when they are not in use, but some discharge much faster. 

If you have not used your car battery in a long time, you may meet it dead. So, instead of leaving it in your car when you know you will not be using it for some time, you can use our battery storage tips. They include: 

Store the battery in a cool room 

Car batteries react significantly to extreme temperatures. When exposed to a high temperature, it becomes susceptible to sulfation and corrosion. Sulfation occurs when crystalline deposits develop on the battery’s negative plates. This prevents electrical currents from full penetration, reducing the battery’s ability to receive, store and release energy. 

If you will not be using your battery for about three months and above, store it in a room with a temperature of 15°C. You also have to look out for corrosion, which affects battery terminals. 

Check the electrolyte levels

Before putting your car battery in storage, check the electrolyte levels and fill until satisfactory. You should also check the voltage and battery levels. Ensure the latter is at its maximum before storing the battery. 

Place it on a padding

Avoid putting your car battery on concrete. Concrete floors are better conductors of cold air, which means they trap cold air. Placing your battery directly on it will cause it to discharge faster. Instead, you can place some wooden crates on the ground before placing the battery on it. 

Dielectric grease comes in handy

Provided you are storing your battery around the summer days or in a region that experiences high temperatures. You can apply some dielectric grease on the negative and positive terminals. This prevents corrosion at these sensitive points. 


Get a car battery tender

If you leave your car unused for more than two weeks, you need a car battery tender. It is a device that helps your battery maintain its electric charge even when it does not receive current from the alternator. 

How to prolong the lifespan of your battery?

Your battery can last a very long time, but it largely depends on maintenance. Some common practices drain out batteries fast and leave a lasting negative impact on them. For instance, short rides can prevent your battery from achieving a full charge. So, ensure your rides are long enough to bring the battery to a full charge. 

Other tips include: 

Ensure your battery is well tightened 

Your battery needs to be properly secured to the terminals if a full charge is to be achieved. Sometimes, a bumpy road can upheave the connection, thereby reducing the strength of the electric capacity while it charges. If there is any disruption in the charging process, it can disturb the charged cycle. 

Avoid leaving the lights on 

It is not uncommon to leave the lights in your car on. This mistake can have bad effects on your battery health.

When you leave your lights on, it can kill the battery. The more your battery dies, the weaker its performance. So, to prolong the lifespan of your battery, turn off the lights before exiting the car. . 

Clean out the corrosion 

Your car battery will occasionally corrode at the terminals. This is fairly normal and easy to clean. You will detect a corroded battery through the bluish-green particles surrounding the negative and positive charging terminals. 

You can use a toothbrush to scrub the corrosion buildup now and then. 

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