How long can a car battery sit unused?

Author Name – Louise Helsby

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car battery idle

If you do not drive your car for an extended period of time, your car battery will go flat. In the current circumstances there are many reasons why your car may be sitting idle and unused. It could be due to the current COVID-19 pandemic which has got us all locked down, meaning we are in the house more and using our cars less. It could also be the case that you have bought a car and not passed your test yet so it is sat on the driveway picking up dust for the time being. If this is the case, you may want to consider applying for a SORN declaration. To find out what a SORN is and how this could help you, please read the related article linked below.

How to SORN a vehicle

Car maintenance is very important when your car is sitting idle as you will want it to function when needed. Many times drivers have gone to their car after it being sat for a period of time, for it not too start. The guilty party that has caused this 9/10 times is a flat battery. If this is the case, you may need to jump start your car. To learn how to jump start your car, please click on the related article below.

How to jump start a car

In this article, we are going to give you some car maintenance advice and let you know how long your car can be left not being driven, without your car battery going flat.

How to take care of your idle car?

If you are aware that your car is going to be sat idle for an extended period of time, there are certain measures that you should try to put into place to properly store your car and keep it maintained. 

Use wheel chocks

When leaving your car parked for a long period of time you will want to avoid leaving the handbrake engaged. This is because leaving the hand brake on will result in the brake pads sticking to your disc brakes, causing complications when you come to drive your car. You may think that using the hand brake is necessary to stop your car rolling away but some wheel chocks or a simple piece of wood placed behind the wheels will do the job.  

Invest in a car cover

The preference on where you leave your idle car would be in a garage where it will be safe and kept clean. However, if you do not have the luxury of a garage it would be a smart idea to invest in a car cover. You can buy a cover that is designed for your car model, protecting your car from the elements if you have resorted to parking outside.

Fill up petrol

You may think ‘what is the use of a full tank of petrol in an unused car?’ but the benefits go further than the convenience of not going to the petrol station once you come to start your car.  Filling your tank with petrol actually prevents rust from forming on the inside of the fuel tank, which is a major problem with cars that are sat idle for an extended period of time.  Once you have filled the tank to the brim, ensure that you seal it properly to avoid moisture entering the tank.

How can I save money on fuel?

Change engine oil

Before leaving your car unused it is recommended that you replace the old engine oil in your car. This is because when old, worn oil is left in your car it is in a sludge form that contains contaminants picked up from around the engine that can impact the performance of your engine when you get back to driving. It is recommended that after replacing this old oil that you drive around for a few kilometres to allow the fresh oil to circulate the engine.

Book an oil change

How to look after your car battery

Now that we have provided some tips on how to properly maintain your car whilst it being sat idle, we now come to battery maintenance. The best way to keep your battery charged is to start your engine up every now and then and leave the car running for around 20 minutes at a time. This is called idling and this gives the opportunity for the battery to recharge itself. However, to ensure your car battery is fully charged, it is recommended that you go a drive for around 45 minutes, preferably on a duel carriageway or a motorway to ensure your car battery can be fully replenished.

If you are not there to start the car there is another alternative method that you can use to keep your battery from going flat. This method is to buy a trickle charger. A trickle charger is used to keep your batteries charge topped up by simply plugging it into the mains and connecting it to the battery and it will provide a steady charge over a period of time. 

How to change a car battery

If you are preparing your car to be sat unused or it has been sat there for a while and you want to take some of the measures to store your car properly, National Tyres and Autocare can help you with this process. We offer a variety of services such as an oil change, a free battery test and even car servicing to ensure your car is in driving condition when you come to drive it. You can book an appointment online at your local National Tyres and Autocare branch.

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