Author Topic: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question  (Read 7404 times)

Roots&Wings

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Hi, does anyone have any tips or tricks for leaving a car for an extended timeframe (3-6 months)?  Own a 2004 Honda Accord.  When I left it previously for several months, the battery completely died from lack of use (could not be jumped, had to be towed and new battery installed).   Don't want the same to happen again :)

Looking online, there are tons of options and huge price range differences ($18- $100+) for battery chargers/tenders, e.g.

http://www.amazon.com/Battery-Tender-021-0123-Junior-Charger/dp/B000CITK8S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423003144&sr=8-1&keywords=battery++tender&pebp=1423003266564&peasin=B000CITK8S
http://www.amazon.com/CTEK-56-353-12-Volt-Battery-Charger/dp/B000FRLO9Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1423144645&sr=1-2&keywords=ctek+battery+charger+mxs5
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-BM3B-Battery-Maintainer/dp/B0051D3MP6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1423003144&sr=8-3&keywords=battery++tender

Not a car person, and don't really know what features to look for or if the $18 model should do the job as well as the $100 model.  The car will be left inside a garage so solar models aren't an option, and it doesn't need winterization like another recent thread.

Also unsure if the battery can somehow be disconnected in a 2004 Accord while away and just reconnect upon return and have it work properly?

If anyone has specific brand/model recommendations or other tips, would really appreciate it!

p.s. there is no one I could ask to come drive it around every few weeks while away.  And selling is not on the table. Thanks!

TreeTired

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 10:49:58 AM »
I do know people that leave their cars on a battery tender for extended periods of time.  These are guys with classic cars that don't drive the car all winter.   Personally,  I would not be comfortable leaving my battery "plugged in"  for a long time while I was away from the house.  If you don't want the battery to drain I was thinking,  "just disconnect it"  before you asked about that possibility late in your post.

SantaFeSteve

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2015, 10:52:15 AM »
  If you don't want the battery to drain I was thinking,  "just disconnect it"  before you asked about that possibility late in your post.

+1

Chances are this will work just fine, especially on a fairly "new" battery.

worms

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2015, 11:43:57 AM »
Don't know about a 2004 Honda accord, but I used to leave my old Saab with the battery disconnected for a year at a time between home visits and it fired-up fine each time I got home.

MountainBeard

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 12:11:21 PM »
The last time around it could have been the battery that was the problem or some sort of parasitic drain.  You could certainly test for the latter or:

GizmoTX

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 01:14:35 PM »
Disconnecting the battery while you are gone is the cheapest way & has worked well for us. You just need a wrench.
Another option is to put a portable charger in the vehicle; this is essentially a rechargeable portable battery that you charge in advance. Some can also function as a USB charger, emergency flashlight & radio.

JLee

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2015, 01:24:39 PM »
I would disconnect the battery.

worms

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2015, 03:07:35 PM »
Best check the correct procedure for your vehicle before disconnecting/reconnecting the battery. On some models doing it the wrong way can play havoc with computerised systems/error codes/immobilisers etc.

Oh...and make sure you know your radio code if it has one, so that you can get the radio up and running without a trip to the dealer to ask them to look up the factory code!
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 03:10:39 PM by worms »

SantaFeSteve

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 04:49:02 PM »
Best check the correct procedure for your vehicle before disconnecting/reconnecting the battery. On some models doing it the wrong way can play havoc with computerised systems/error codes/immobilisers etc.

Oh...and make sure you know your radio code if it has one, so that you can get the radio up and running without a trip to the dealer to ask them to look up the factory code!

I think you drive a much newer and more high-tech car than I :)

fodder69

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 04:56:03 PM »
A 2004 Accord could certainly do that to the radio though! Probably not but worth a google search.

Disconnecting will work pretty well for 3.6 months, but the better chargers can actually make a battery last years longer. I have had great luck with the Battery Minder brands but they are not the cheapest, around $40 bucks. But I have had them resurrect dead batteries that would not hold a charge. I would get something that was at least a 3 stage charger, not just a "float" or "trickle" charger. The staged chargers sense the battery voltage and won't overcharge or damage the battery.

worms

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 11:49:39 PM »
Best check the correct procedure for your vehicle before disconnecting/reconnecting the battery. On some models doing it the wrong way can play havoc with computerised systems/error codes/immobilisers etc.

Oh...and make sure you know your radio code if it has one, so that you can get the radio up and running without a trip to the dealer to ask them to look up the factory code!

I think you drive a much newer and more high-tech car than I :)

12 year old Volvo!

77rider

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2015, 05:44:41 AM »
Radio codes have been a thing since the 80's. Looking into it before you unplug your battery is solid advice.

I use the Battery Tender JR branded tenders on my motorcycles. I think they are well worth the ~$20. Unplugging a battery will definitely protect it from an parasitic loads. But it will not keep it charged. Temperature fluctuations can age a battery without any load. The tender will keep the battery topped off with a slow trickle charge as needed. This can greatly extend the life of the battery. I get 7-8+ years out of a battery on my motorcycles while some others get 2-3.

~$20 to protect a $100+ battery and avoid towing and mechanic fees seems like reasonable insurance to me.

I have tried cheaper, off-brand tenders and been let down. The Battery Tender brand tenders are worth the cost, IMO. Specifically the Harbor Freight ones are garbage. Very light gauge wire and flimsy connectors. Battery Tender brand units come with a semi-permanent harness you connect to the battery in the vehicle and quick connects for the tender itself. This is the way to go in my opinion. Makes using it very convenient.

I'm a motor head and see the $100 one you linked as absurd overkill.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2015, 10:55:08 AM »
Thank you all for your replies and tips! 

@MountainBeard, I really like the battery disconnect switch thing.  I'm not at all handy with cars, but could probably figure that one out!

@77rider, thank you for clearly outlining the benefits of a battery tender, and the Battery Tender brand recommendation given the ridiculous number of choices out there.  I'm leaning that way.  My maintenance records show a new battery in 2009, a battery recharge in 2010, and another new battery in 2013.  Longer battery life would be nice!

mayanktanwar

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2015, 05:09:03 AM »
For battery charger and tips how to maintain battery for long time usable visit BatteryBhai.com. 

Greg

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2015, 09:14:49 AM »
Disconnecting the battery is something you should know how to do regardless, and knowing the code and procedure for the radio disable is important.  It will be a number in your owner's manual or a sticker in the glovebox.  The owner's manual should explain how to do it.

Disconnecting the battery (always done at the negative cable side) is easiest and simplest, but a tender/charger will make it easier in the long run.  Just remember to disconnect it before driving off!

Sailor Sam

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2015, 10:41:18 AM »
Hola! I'm another car person, who mothballs my precious baby for 6 - 15 months at a time. Here are a few things I've learned the hard way.

1. Battery. In my car, disconnecting the battery = non-functioning door locks. Neither the key fob, nor the manual keys will work.* That means I can't pop the bonnet to get the fucking battery reconnected. I simply leave the driver door unlocked, but that could make some people uncomfortable.

2. Pour some gas stabilizer into your tank. Three months probably doesn't matter that much, but gas can go stale.

3. Fill your gas tank to the tippy top, to discourage water. (caveat: advice on this varies. It's something I do, but others oppose it vehemently)

4. Take out your air filter! Mice love, love, love to nest in it. I blew those pink squirmers and their mommy's poop into many places. It was gross.

5. If you're really going to a while, consider jack stands. I've seen guys return from deployment to square tires. It's a very sad moment for them.

6. Consider removing you wiper blades and storing them inside the car. One time mine glommbed onto the glass. It was gross.

7. Manual cars, release the handbrake, leave the car in neutral, and chock the wheels. Break shoes, etc can rust in place.

8. If you like your paint job and don't have a garage, consider a cover. Off the shelf are okay, but I bought one custom fitted to the car and have never looked back.


*Because I have a play car. The windows have to roll down slightly before the door can open. This can't happen without power.

Axecleaver

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Re: Leaving car for extended trip - Battery charger/battery tender question
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2015, 11:21:53 AM »
Sailor Sam gave a pretty thorough checklist. I use a Battery Tender Jr on my 98 Cobra and have had the same battery for 5 years, and it's good as new.

One piece of advice I can give you related to the fuel tank. If you have access to ethanol-free gasoline, buy that, run the car until it's empty, and fill the tank. You can get this in some gas stations, or at boatyards. Add stabilizer even if you get ethanol-free gas. Ethanol binds to water and gunks up your fuel filter and injectors. Run the engine for a few minutes before you leave it to ensure the stabilized gas has circulated through the fuel lines, filter and injectors.