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How Social Distancing May Drain Your Car Battery

As the world adjusts to self-quarantining, in an attempt to flatten the curve of COVID-19 through social distancing, an unforeseen consequence may occur. While we strive to protect ourselves and our community by staying home, we may inadvertently cause our car battery to lose it charge and not be able to start when we need it!

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Juice

With schools closed, office staff working from home, and people staying in, cars are sitting unused in garages and driveways across the country. However, if left too long without being started, a car battery’s charge will slowly drain until it’s completely out of power. Even when a car is turned off, power-hungry gadgets, like the clock, radio, and on onboard computers, continue to draw power from the battery. Over time, these “parasitic” drains will deplete the battery’s ability to start your car.

Can’t I Just Start the Car and Let It Idle So It Re-Charges?

While this may be a good idea with older vehicles, modern charging systems only give enough juice to keep the battery topped off enough to sufficiently run all the accessories on the vehicle. For this reason, starting and idling your engine will likely not bring your battery to its fully charged state.

Consider a Battery Tender

Another option for keeping your battery charged when your car is not being used for an extended period is to purchase a trickle charger, or Battery Tender, for about $50 on average. This device has two clamps that attach to a battery’s terminals like jumper cables. It then plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet and delivers small amounts of electricity to keep the battery charged during long periods of inactivity.

To purchase a Battery Tender, call your Motoring Club:

AAA: 1-800-AAA-HELP
CAA: 1-800-CAA-HELP

With so much uncertainty in the shadow of COVID-19, be sure to take steps to ensure your car is in good working condition, and ready when you need it. A AAA/CAA Mobile Battery Technician can come to your driveway and give you a free battery inspection. Should you need a new one, they can install it on the spot, while you avoid having to leave the safety of your home or office.

For AAA, visit aaa.com/carbatteryquote or call 1-800-AAA-HELP.

For CAA, visit caa.ca/club-services or call 1-800-CAA-HELP.

About the author

Deena Grabowski