Author Topic: Car Battery Question  (Read 5356 times)

ardrum

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Car Battery Question
« on: March 08, 2016, 07:00:48 AM »
I am moving to a new apartment that is under a mile from work so that I can walk to work (currently driving 25 miles one way!) and save boatloads of money. 

I was wondering how Mustachians who barely use their vehicle maintain their car battery's charge without having to wastefully drive around at least once a week.

lthenderson

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2016, 07:35:44 AM »
If you don't care if you car clock has the correct time, I would install a battery disconnect switch. When you aren't using the car, you can simply disconnect the battery by turning the knob. However I regularly let my car set for a couple months at a time with the battery connected and never have problems starting it up. I would guess unless you are talking about only using your car a few times a year, you don't have to worry about disconnecting the battery.

otter

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2016, 11:36:35 AM »
Since you are moving to an apartment, I am assuming there is no garage involved. If you have access to a 110V wall outlet from wherever the car is parked, you can buy a batter tender and leave it plugged in to that. Otherwise, a disconnect switch is probably the best option to avoid parasitic current drains.


ardrum

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2016, 04:16:23 PM »
I will actually have a private garage included with this apartment.  I'll have to check about the wall outlet availability from within the garage.

I'm hoping to increase my savings rate from 60% to 66-67% as a result of this move.  I've been coveting trying to reach that 2/3 ratio for the past year.

Thanks for the advice!

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2016, 05:13:11 AM »
It depends on the age of the car.  Newer cars are a lot harder on batteries.  If this is a mid-'90's or earlier, you are likely able to get away with not doing anything special if you drive it at least once every 2-3 months.  20teens and newer though have so many "always on" things that yeah, if it's sitting more than a couple weeks you could be in trouble.

The battery tender suggestion is your best option if you're going to exceed whatever sitting time is reasonable for your vehicle.

jda1984

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2016, 09:48:08 AM »
I will actually have a private garage included with this apartment.  I'll have to check about the wall outlet availability from within the garage.

I'm hoping to increase my savings rate from 60% to 66-67% as a result of this move.  I've been coveting trying to reach that 2/3 ratio for the past year.

Thanks for the advice!

If there's a garage opener you can use that for your outlet.  There are also devices that screw into a light socket and provide an outlet as well as a light socket.  Unless your garage was built a really long time ago (like 1900s) and was never updated, you probably have one or both of these options.

FIRE me

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 10:30:08 AM »
I am moving to a new apartment that is under a mile from work so that I can walk to work (currently driving 25 miles one way!) and save boatloads of money. 

I was wondering how Mustachians who barely use their vehicle maintain their car battery's charge without having to wastefully drive around at least once a week.

What about grocery shopping? If you shop weekly, and the store is a few miles away, that should take care of it.

plainjane

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 10:39:38 AM »
Is there a reason you can't just rent a car when you need one, and get rid of the one you aren't going to drive?  If you are urban, there could be car sharing options which are cheaper than renting.

otter

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2016, 03:01:42 PM »
I will actually have a private garage included with this apartment.  I'll have to check about the wall outlet availability from within the garage.

I'm hoping to increase my savings rate from 60% to 66-67% as a result of this move.  I've been coveting trying to reach that 2/3 ratio for the past year.

Thanks for the advice!

I have a couple of these:

http://www.amazon.com/Decker-BM3B-Battery-Charger-Maintainer/dp/B0051D3MP6/ref=sr_1_7?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1457560800&sr=1-7&keywords=battery+tender

But there are quite a few options out there.


Jack

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2016, 03:22:42 PM »
If the car in question is even slightly modern, I disagree with lthenderson's suggestion about disconnecting the battery. In addition to the clock and radio presets etc., the battery also maintains tuning settings saved in the car's ECU. If you disconnect the battery, it'll have to re-learn those settings (which takes a few driving cycles) and won't run quite as well until it does.

There also exist small solar panels that you can set on the dash and clamp to the battery terminals (or plug into the 12V cigarette outlet if you want to leave the ignition on the 'acc' setting), which can maintain your battery if you have to park outside and don't have access to an outlet. I have no idea how well they work.

lthenderson

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2016, 04:34:46 PM »
If the car in question is even slightly modern, I disagree with lthenderson's suggestion about disconnecting the battery. In addition to the clock and radio presets etc., the battery also maintains tuning settings saved in the car's ECU. If you disconnect the battery, it'll have to re-learn those settings (which takes a few driving cycles) and won't run quite as well until it does.

Disconnecting the battery does not harm your car in any way and it happens every single time you replace the battery. The car might run a bit rich for a few cycles but there is no danger and it is the most cost effective way of preventing battery drain. Also if you noticed I suggested that I would just leave the battery connected unless he was driving it less than a few times a year.

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2016, 09:58:55 AM »
If you disconnect the battery, it'll have to re-learn those settings (which takes a few driving cycles) and won't run quite as well until it does.

It will have the long term fuel trims figured out in 5-15 minutes of driving at full temperature depending on exact model/year of build.  The short term fuel trims should be in place (and making the car run right) once the cat is warmed up (usually by the time the car is at operating temperature).  Newer cars are better than older ones.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2016, 01:12:30 PM »
I am going to agree that disconnecting and reconnecting a battery, when leaving it disconnected for long periods of time (and not just a few minutes while changing the battery), is going to be annoying. In that extended period of time anything that was stored in memory is going to be lost, your radio stations gone, that saved driving position gone, any adjustments the ECU had saved gone (even if they are recovered in 15 minutes that many be the extent of your drive) and the list goes on and on depending on how fancy a car you own. Will it harm your car, I do not believe so, but you will have to decide if the annoyance is worth it. On the plus side it will make your car harder to steal.

Batteries last, my last vehicle was a 2003 and I often let it sit for 4-6 weeks and there was no problem or even struggle starting it. So if you are going to drive to the store every couple weeks you may not need to do anything.

If you are talking months and months without use you should probably look into a battery maintainer that plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet. They cost about 20 dollars. Since you have a private garage there will likely be a source of power that you can connect to (light bulb adapter, normal wall outlet, most garage door openers plug into an outlet on the ceiling (you'll just have to get creative with an extension cord).

BlueMR2

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2016, 10:14:53 AM »
If you are talking months and months without use you should probably look into a battery maintainer that plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet. They cost about 20 dollars. Since you have a private garage there will likely be a source of power that you can connect to (light bulb adapter, normal wall outlet, most garage door openers plug into an outlet on the ceiling (you'll just have to get creative with an extension cord).

Check your car for compatibility first.  Some cars will short the lighter circuit to ground when not in acc/on positions (Both our Toyotas and my Mitsubishi do this, but the Pontiacs my parents had did not).

Fishindude

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2016, 11:27:18 AM »
I have a convertible that sits for six months without being used.
We just unhook the battery during this time period.   if you don't the security system idiot lights kill the battery over the winter.

HipGnosis

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2016, 12:19:40 PM »
you can buy a battery tender and leave it plugged in to that.
Note that 'battery tender' is brand name that got so popular that it's now used as a generic term that can mean multiple things.
What you specifically want is a 'smart charger' that checks / senses the condition of the battery and charges accordingly.  A cheap 'trickle charger' can actually hurt a battery by charging it when the battery is fully charged.
For your situation, if you can't charge through the cigarette lighter (aka power outlet) I'd connect wires directly to the battery and have a disconnect fitting that hangs out from the grill just a bit.  Then I'd put bright tape on the cord that connects to it so you, I mean I, won't forget it and drive off with it connected.

patrat

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2016, 12:33:07 PM »
Try doing nothing in terms of battery maintenance. If you are technically savvy (or willing to learn, which you should) check your battery voltage once a week for a while using a multimeter. I also recommend having an auto parts store test your battery, the test is free. If they say it is bad get a second opinion at one of their competitors.

I regularly have battery started engines work just fine after 3 months of sitting around parked.

http://www.yuasabatteries.com/faqs.php?action=1&id=30

gliderpilot567

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2016, 09:28:57 PM »
My truck had a dead battery after I came back from a six month deployment. I recharged it just enough to crank the engine, using a transformer / rectifier circuit that I home brewed. Had I lived atop a hill at the time, I could have just roll started it (manual transmission).

I'm more worried about the condition of the gasoline after such a long time, than about the battery which is easy to replace. Gummed up fuel could be a pain in the butt.

HipGnosis

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2016, 03:10:08 PM »
OMG, lighter socket voltage meters are so cheap now.
http://www.amazon.com/Battery-Electric-Cigarette-Lighter-Voltmeter/dp/B00AQAQIGO
Cheap insurance.  Very cheap.  It will tell you if you have a problem developing.

JZinCO

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Re: Car Battery Question
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2016, 03:58:24 PM »
Looks like you have been given all the possible answers: I'll throw one or two new ones in there

-Disconnect battery manually or use disconnect switch
-Use a solar cell (I use solargizer personally)
-Use a battery booster. Basically a battery cell that fits in your glove box that can be used for jumping anything except a totally dead battery)
-Put in a second battery tray and use a marine switch to designate which battery to use for the day. The switch also prevents one battery draining the other.
-Trickle charger or a more powerful jumper that can provide a start instantly (to get one that knows when to stop, you may spend up to $50 or more)
-Just monitor with an amp meter on your dash or plugged in your cig outlet.

Sure I missed a couple. Point being that together we have crowdsourced quite a few solutions.