If you store your car for the winter, or for other long periods, it’s important to make sure that your car battery is properly cared for. Long term car storage can wreak havoc on your battery.

Isn't it okay to just occasionally run the car?

Perhaps you’ve heard that you can simply run your car from time to time in order to keep the battery operating properly, but there are problems with this approach. The most obvious is that you may be one location, and your car could be hundreds of miles away. And even if you have a friend or a relative who will go to the place where you store your car, and start it up from time to time, that may not prevent damage to your battery.

The theory behind regular starting is that it keeps the charge up in the battery, and also that it warms up the engine oil and coolant and is beneficial for the engine. The caveat is that for this to work, the vehicle has to be actually driven for a minimum of 20 minutes. A quick start and a bit of idling is going to cause condensation to build up in the engine and drive train, and this can cause corrosion that will lead to serious problems down the road.

How to store your car battery

The better course of action is to take your car battery out of the vehicle and bring it indoors. Then, hook it up to a battery maintainer. Batteries don’t work well when they’re left discharged, or at a low charge, for long periods of time. There are several battery maintainers on the market that don’t cost much, and they’ll keep your battery in good condition. This is the best method of car battery storage, and the one most recommended by mechanics.

It’s fine to store your car in an unheated facility, but bring your battery inside, and use a maintainer. That way, when you’re ready to drive your car again, you can be assured that you’ll be on the road again with no battery issues.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Deal With a Car Battery For Long-Term Storage and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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