Just how often does a car need to be started so its battery won't die?


  1. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    I've gotten REALLY bad about starting up my SUV. I almost never leave the house any more, and I TRY to remember to start up my car...every so often. But I keep ending up with a dead battery. The battery is a top-of-the-line DieHard that's about a year old. I think Allstate Motor Club is getting sick of hearing from me to come jump my battery. :eek: :D

    The aide we have for my mom has offered to start up my car for me, but she doesn't know how to drive a stick shift and I've been too lazy to go out and show her what to do.

    So just how often SHOULD a car be started in order to not end up with a dead battery? It's gotten so that it's dying after as little as a week.

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  2. pbf98

    pbf98 Well-Known Member Contributor

    Not quite sure, but I have heard that you can disconnect your negative cable and it will help prolong the life of your battery if you are not going to be driving it often enough. This will stop the cars little things that draw small amounts of energy from the battery, such as the computer that detects your key telling it to unlock, radio that keeps the time set, alarm. If it is in a safe place where people won't be messing with it, it won't be too bad, you'd just have to deal with the annoyance of resetting your clock every time haha

    Another thing I have heard of is a "smart charger" which is different from a regular charger because once the battery is charged, the current to the battery is shut off so it won't over charge it. They are something that you can leave plugged in at all times or just a few hours.

    I looked for a better answer but I couldn't find one
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  3. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Thanks for the idea. I wouldn't mind the clock, but I do want to keep my alarm armed at all times (even though we're in a boringly safe neighborhood).

    Interesting. I've never heard of 'smart chargers' but maybe I should see what they're all about.

    What I had been thinking...but, of course, hadn't actually DONE it yet...was buying a portable charger like the guys the motor club sends over use. The first time I called, I thought I'd have to roll my car down the driveway so they could jump the battery the old-fashioned way, from their car to mine. :eek: I had no idea there were these newfangled contraptions that are about the size of a purse and can be carried right to the vehicle! See, in my previous life, I never had dead batteries. I used to be the person who'd give other people a jump. Funny what life's curve balls, like a brain tumor and its aftermath, plus taking care of an elderly parent, can do. *sigh*
  4. Gmash

    Gmash Well-Known Member

    Check out something like these:

    Deltran Battery Tender, Brand Battery Chargers & Tenders, battery tender jr, battery tender plus

    Those portable jump starters are handy, but it's bad for your battery to let it keep dying and having to jump start it. If it is dying in less than a week, you should probably let it run longer when you start it so your alternator has a chance to fully charge the battery. I'd let it run at least 15-20 minutes or longer, and let the engine get up to normal operating temperature.
    MoodyBlues likes this.
  5. DC IT

    DC IT Well-Known Member

    +1 on Battery Tender.
    Recently I went on a 3 week vacation and simply connect my car's battery to a battery tender.
    It keeps it charged and will switched to trickle charge and suto shuts off when it's fully charged.
    Then it'll come on and charge the battery automatically when needed.

    If you're not driving your SUV much might want to consider selling it rather than paying for insurance and license etc?
  6. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Thanks! I just ordered the Battery Tender Plus 12V Battery Charger. It'll be here tomorrow. :) And then I'm going to give it a try and see if it can charge a dead battery. :D If not, another call to Allstate Motor Club, then I'll let the Battery Tender take over.

    I know. And that's what makes it ironic. I've always taken exceptional care of my vehicles, but now...well, it's just different. You'd think walking 20 feet to start up a car every few days wouldn't be a big deal, but sometimes it really is. Or I'll THINK about doing it...and then don't.

    Good suggestion. It's the impatience in me that keeps me from running it longer.
  7. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Sounds like just what I need. Oh, I ordered one! :)

    No, I have to have a vehicle and I love my SUV. I rely on it when I do need to go somewhere--can't even imagine life here in LA [in my current health] without my own vehicle! Plus, when my relatives and friends come to visit they drive it, too.
  8. DC IT

    DC IT Well-Known Member

    BTW, why not install a remote starter?

    Or better still since you have a Smart Phone you can try this Android App "Control of the Car"
  9. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    The only answer I can offer is that if walking out to my driveway to START my vehicle up every once in a while doesn't get done, what are the odds that INSTALLING something will get done? :eek: Seriously, though, I guess I kept thinking that somehow things would change and I'd get into the routine of starting it up.

    Honestly, I hadn't looked for anything like this. After reading its description/info, I'm a little wary. I realize that a lot of Android app developers don't speak English as their first language, and I have no problem with that. However, in a case like this I'm not sure after reading the info that it would work with my car. I have a Toyota RAV4, and its alarm system was factory installed. I'm GUESSING that this app would work with it, but it's kind of a moot point now anyway since I've already ordered the battery tender.

    Thanks for the suggestions.
  10. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    You shouldn't have to run your vehicle very often at all. Unless you're going a couple months at a time between driving, you have a problem. Likely a battery drain, which can be fixed. Either that, or a bad battery. New batteries can go bad too, that is a good reason to get yours checked while it is still under warranty. Batteries plus will check it for free, and so should most shops. It takes 5 minutes to have it checked.
    If your battery is fine, you probably have something draining your battery. I'd get that fixed. A charger is just a bandaid that will end up getting you stranded someday.
    Just starting your vehicle and letting it run at idle requires you to let it run for quite some time (at least 20min) just to recoup the energy lost from just starting it too.
    So, just how long do you go between drives?
  11. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Thanks for the input. I see what you're saying, but right now I'm pretty convinced that the problem is a simple lack of use. However, since it is still under full warranty, it would be prudent to have it checked and replaced, if necessary, so one of these days I'll try to get that done. I bought the battery at Sears so that's where I'd take it. I've used DieHard batteries for eons and can't recall ever having an issue like a bad battery, but there's always a first time. Also, nothing in/on/or about my vehicle has changed that could explain the battery draining, so I don't think that's it. Again, though, I should have it checked.

    On average, about two weeks. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It started dying after I hadn't even started it up for about three weeks. Also, with few exceptions, the longest I drive is about 30 minutes--10 minutes to CVS to pick up prescriptions, 10 minutes at CVS, and 10 minutes back. When I've just had the battery jumped prior to leaving for the pharmacy, I let it idle while I'm in the drive-thru lane, so that's a solid 30 minutes running time! :D
  12. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    Sorry, I should've asked you about driving habits.
    Too many of those 10 minute drives will do it. Like I was talking about before, that is barely enough to make up for starting it, and actually can eventually be petty hard on the engine, especially if you live somewhere where it sometimes gets cool or cold, even if just at night. I'd highly recommend occasionally running down the highway for a bit to get the engine heated up good. This helps prevent deposits in the engine and moisture in the oil. Vehicles are made to " burn off" gunk and water with average use, but it sounds like your use is not " average".

    If you are going to continue using it for almost exclusively short runs, maybe a battery tender isn't a bad idea, but just remember to run it down the highway once in a while :)
  13. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    THIRTY minutes! :D
    No, it's not average--not any more. When I first moved back to California I was driving and driving and driving... I'd lived out of state for so long, only coming back for occasional visits with my family, that I just couldn't get enough of the ocean, the mountains, the desert, Hollywood, Disneyland, you name it. But after my brain tumor was diagnosed, and then removed, in 2009 everything changed. I even had Allstate change my insurance policy to 'low mileage' because I'm barely driving.

    I'll try! :)
  14. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    One reason why I would avoid the Battery Tender brand is because it's a heavily advertised product. More money spent on advertising means less money spent on the product. IJS

    I've been getting AGM batteries recently, and need a charger that's made especially for them. (Don't, and the AGM battery dies quickly.) The C-TEK looks like the best product, although I haven't bought one yet. What I've gotten at brick and mortar stores have been pretty poor products.

    I keep my summer car garaged for the winter, and used to start the motor from time to time, but it takes at least a half-hour of driving to fully recharge the battery. Even longer idling. I'd use a trickle charger, but since I don't have an AC outlet I pull out the battery and put it on the shelf with all my deep cycle lead-acid batteries.

    The consensus among gearheads about starting a stored car is to leave it alone if it's a late model road-going car. If you have a classic non-cat car or other Otto cycle motor that sits unused for extended periods, the procedure is to do an oil change (and flush if possible) when storing, and pull the plugs, spray in some WD-type (water displacing, the brand doesn't matter) oil into the combustion chambers to prevent rust. (Put the plugs back to seal the chambers.) In olden times we'd use plain motor oil instead of WD oil; this isn't recommended any more because the heavier oil can't atomize as well, and doesn't cover as well as spray can oil.
  15. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Okay, here's the story. The battery tender arrived last night. After reading its instructions this morning, I had to call Allstate Motor Club for one more jump--the battery tender won't charge a dead battery. Got the battery jumped, then hooked up the tender.

    My friend and I had to do a bit of fiddling to get things situated. The charger comes with a ridiculously short cord--but says not to use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. I don't know who has a GFCI outlet *RIGHT* next to their vehicle, but I don't. :rolleyes:

    After plugging it in and verifying that it was working, we had to figure out how to keep the charger from getting wet. See, I HAVE a 2-car garage...but it's filled with stuff. So I park in my driveway. I pulled the car all the way up to the garage, and my friend took the charger and put it inside the garage, then she gently lowered the garage door; the cord fit under it without touching, so that was good.

    Then we had to figure out what to do with the hood. It took some tweaking to get the contacts down enough to let me lower the hood most of the way. My battery is ALL the way up, right under the windshield, and its cover is actually part of what you see when you're looking at the exterior of the vehicle, right where the windshield wipers are. We couldn't get its cover to fit flush like it should, so after lowering the hood we ended up rigging a plastic trash bag over it, anchoring the bag under the wiper and placing a piece of wood on top to keep it from blowing away. (Believe it or not, it DOES rain here in SoCal...just not very often! So all these precautions were actually necessary.)

    Right now everything looks good. :D
  16. Gmash

    Gmash Well-Known Member

    Lol I hope that works out for you.
  17. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Me too! :D

    I found out when I called Allstate Motor Club that my account was suspended. :eek: I was like, WHAT? SUSPENDED? WHY?!! They said I've used up all my service calls for the year. Would've been nice if they had let me know. :rolleyes: So I asked, "then what do I do?" They said they could still send someone to jump it, but I'd have to pay outright. I said fine, whatever, I have a dead battery, just do it.

    I'm HOPING the battery tender solves this problem. Fingers crossed. :)
  18. Gmash

    Gmash Well-Known Member

    Might be time to start making some room in the garage. Make things easier. :p
  19. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    You need the waterproof model. It's more compact too.
  20. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    No, it's okay. I'm good with the rigging we did. :D Besides, I'm way too lazy to pack up the one I already bought, ship it back to Amazon, and re-order a different one. :eek:
  21. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    Yeah, when I read that it arrived, I knew it would be too much of a pain to return. Don't you have a Wal-Mart nearby? Or a Batteries+?
  22. junebug1701

    junebug1701 Member

    What year is your RAV4, moodyblues? You should join us over at RAV4World (Toyota RAV4 Forums : RAV4World.com), where I am the admin. A lot of friendly and smart folks over there who know a lot about these little SUV's. When you said you bought a battery tender, I assumed it was small enough to mount permanently under the hood and would be waterproof. That's what I would look for. Another option is a solar charger. It's a solar panel that sits on the dash catching rays through the windshield and trickle charging the battery. The only problem there is most of them are designed to plug into the cigarette lighter/power port and these are switched off with the key on the RAV4. It would need to be hardwired in or mod the relay so the power port stays hot all the time.

    Another thing you need to remember is oil changes. Driving like you do may seem easy on the engine, but in reality it's considered severe service. The reason is infrequent short trips rarely let the engine get up to normal operating temperature and moisture builds up inside the engine instead of evaporating. This is why you need to get the oil changed every 6 months regardless of mileage. Toyota requires changing the oil every 6 months or 5000 miles, whichever comes first. Since I only drive about 6600 miles a year, I get it changed at 6 month intervals. I'm still under the extended warranty until 2016, and I don't want to take any chances!
    Speed Daemon likes this.
  23. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    Amen to that!
    Though I don't take very good care of my vehicles, I take excellent care of my wife's. If there is one thing that is easy to do and will extend the life of your vehicle, it's proper oil changes.
  24. MoodyBlues

    MoodyBlues - Crazy peacock person - Guide

    Wow, small world! I registered over there some time ago, but haven't really participated.

    I knew NOTHING about these things until just the other day--as documented in this thread by the date of my posts! I wish I had known that there were different types, styles, sizes, whatever, but I didn't. So I went with the first one that had good reviews and was the correct voltage; from its description it sounded perfect. At this point I'm not going to return it; like I said I'm okay with the rigging we did--by the way, it's RAINING right now! :eek:

    Very good points. And, no, I have not been doing that.

    My owner's manual says 7500 miles, and that's what I've followed. But the 6 month thing...yeah, I need to start doing that.
  25. Davdi

    Davdi Well-Known Member Contributor

    For small mileages, Definitely minimum of 6 monthly oil changes. I do around 5.000 per year in a '96 Toyota Estima 2.2Tdi. Still Change the oil every 6 months.
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