The other day we had a post about the need to continue doing some basic maintenance on your car even if you are driving less in this age of higher fuel prices. One of the items we mentioned was caring for your battery. If you drive your car infrequently as I do (I drive a lot of loaner vehicles from manufacturers for review purposes) you may find that your battery eventually dies. Just as all the electronic gear in your house draws juice to light up all those LEDs, so to does your car for alarm systems, clocks etc. Even with nothing drawing power, a battery will eventually self discharge. I use an inexpensive trickle charger that slowly charges my battery and automatically shuts off when full charge is reached and then re-starts when the voltage gets below a certain level. Mine is a plug-in unit because my car is in a garage. If you park your car outdoors, though, you might want consider a solar charger. The1.8W unit pictured above is available online for under $25 and measures 6.5 x 1.25 x 18 inches so you can stick it on your dashboard and plug it into an accessory socket. If you are going to leave it sitting for extended times you should also go for a charge controller that monitors your battery to prevent over-charging. Just as with a hybrid battery, overcharging your starter battery will damage it. You can find various examples of these devices by using your favorite search engine to look for "solar car battery trickle charger" and you shouldn't need to spend more than $50. It's cheaper than a new battery and less hassle.

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