How To Safely Store a Car Battery When Not In Use

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Three car batteries on a table against a red background with the ampere ratings visible

Car batteries don’t last forever. Once they reach the end of their useful life (about 4 years), they start to lose their ability to hold a charge. This means they start to die, one battery cell at a time. You want to keep your battery at its best, so you might consider storing it.

When not in use, store your car battery in a cool, dry place. Batteries discharge slowly over time, so it’s important to keep them charged. If you’re not going to use your car for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to remove the battery and store it in a safe place.

If you’re like most people, you probably won’t wait until your battery dies to start using your car again. You’ll jump right in, eager to start charging your battery again. But if you do that, you might as well just get a new one. They’re expensive, and it’s not necessary. Here’s how to safely store a car battery when not in use to extend its lifespan and keep it working efficiently for years to come.

How do you store an unused car battery?

Store your battery in a cool, dry place. If you live in a hot climate, store it in a garage or shed to keep it cool. If you live in a cold climate, keep it somewhere warm and dry like inside your home. Don’t store it near any heat sources like wood or metal fires or radiators.

Keep the battery level at all times. It’s important to keep your battery level at all times so acid doesn’t spill out of the battery and damage it. Cover the battery with something that will protect it from sunlight, water, and dust.

Cover the battery with something when you store it so that sunlight can’t damage its sensitive parts and dust won’t get into its delicate insides. Make sure nothing is touching the top of the battery or bottom of the battery either to prevent short-circuits or acid spills from damaging your car battery while you store it. If you are not storing your battery, follow these tips:

  • Plan Ahead
  • Charge Your Battery When You Have Time
  • Avoid Heat
  • Humidity
  • Don’t Overcharge
  • Turn Off Electronics
  • Charge the Battery Every 2-3 Months
Car batteries on a shelf brand new close up

Plan Ahead

Before you drop the ball and start storing your car battery, you’ll want to know how long you can safely leave it uncharged. This is important because it tells you how long you can safely leave the battery uncharged before it will begin to lose its ability to hold a charge.

You’ll want to avoid letting it sit uncharged for longer than this, as this will lead to a shortened lifespan and may even damage the battery. Most car batteries will last between three and four years if they are kept in the car and not constantly charging and discharged. You can use this as a rough guideline to help you plan ahead.

Charge Your Battery When You Have Time

If you’re going to be away for longer than a few weeks, make sure you charge your battery before you leave. It doesn’t take long to charge a car battery (even a cheap one), but it adds up. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Plus, you’ll get something out of it. You’ll increase the lifespan of your battery and help avoid damage from not charging.

If you only have a few hours here and there, you can still make a significant difference. Leaving a battery hooked up to a trickle charger for a few hours a day can make a big difference in how long your battery lasts.

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Avoid Heat

Heat will damage your car battery. It’s inevitable, and it’s something you can’t avoid. The best thing you can do is make sure it’s kept cool. Store it in a shady spot where it has access to air and a bit of sunlight, but not direct sunlight.

If possible, don’t store your battery outdoors in the summer or near a wood or metal fire. This will quickly damage your battery and shorten its lifespan. You also don’t want to store it near a heater or air conditioning vent, as this will create a nice place for moisture to gather.

Humidity

When it comes to storing a car battery somewhere inside, make sure that it’s stored somewhere cool with little to no humidity.

A great place to store this is in a garage, storage, or cellar if you have one. If you live in an area with high humidity, a dehumidifier will help prolong the car battery’s life span.

Thermomemter humidity monitor indicator near the window

Don’t Overcharge

Overcharging is another thing that can shorten the lifespan of your car battery. Charge your battery until your light stops blinking and then stop. Don’t charge it any longer. When you don’t need to charge your battery, don’t charge it. If you want to keep it charged for a while, use a trickle charger instead.

Turn Off Electronics

The minute you turn your car off, the battery is discharged. Don’t let your entertainment system, phone, or anything else stay plugged in while your car is off to keep your battery charged. This is one of the fastest ways to shorten your battery’s lifespan. Help slow this process and your battery will last longer.

Charge the Battery Every 2-3 Months

This is a general guideline for how often you should charge a car battery. This will vary depending on how you’re using it as well as the type of battery you have. Most lead-acid batteries can be charged up to 500 times before they need to be replaced. If you’re keeping your battery uncharged (which we recommend against), you can expect them to last around four years before they need replacing. After that, you’ll want to get a new one.

Car mechanic hooking up the jumper cables to the car battery inside the car

Charge the battery Once a Year

If you’re only using your car occasionally, you may never have to worry about charging the battery. If this sounds like you, then you can skip this section. If you regularly drive your car, you’ll want to charge the battery once a year. If you don’t, then it’s fine to just leave it. This will keep the battery working efficiently and in good health. Just make sure you don’t let it sit uncharged for too long because this will shorten its lifespan.

Tips for Storing a Car Battery When Not in Use

Tip #1 – Make sure your battery is clean and free of dirt, water, and other contaminants. This will help keep it clean and make it work more efficiently. If you don’t want to clean it, at least make sure there aren’t any contaminants on it.

Tip #2 – Prevent moisture from building up in the battery by keeping it clean and dry. Make sure there is access to air and sunlight. It’s a good idea to keep it away from sunlight or heat sources like wood or metal fires or radiators.

Tip #3 – Make sure the battery is well-sealed and well-protected. Make sure there is nothing touching the top or bottom of the battery, and make sure there are no sharp objects touching the bottom. Make sure your car battery is fully charged before you store it. This will give it the best chance of being used again quickly.

Tip #4 – Make sure your car battery is fully disconnected from your car before you store it. This will prevent short circuits from damaging the battery and shortening its lifespan. Cover your car battery when it’s not in use so it doesn’t get exposed to the elements and become damaged by sunlight. This will help to protect it from damage and make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Tip #5 – Keep your car battery level. It’s important to keep your battery level. This will prevent acid from being spilled out of the battery and shorten its lifespan.

Should I Disconnect Battery If My Car Is Parked Long Term?

It’s not necessary to disconnect your battery when you park your car for a long period of time. It’s actually better not to disconnect it because if you do, you may forget to reconnect it and this will damage your battery.

How Long Can A Car Battery Sit Unused Before It Goes Bad?

It depends on the type of car battery you have. Most batteries can last up to one year without being used, but some batteries need to be used once every six months or less. It all depends on the type of battery and how well it is cared for while it is stored.

Your owner’s manual will tell you how long your battery should last when stored properly so keep that in mind as well. If you have an AGM or Gel Cell Battery, then these batteries are made for deep cycle use and can sit unused for years at a time so long as they are kept in a cool dry place and charged regularly.

Pb car batteries on the grass in nature

How Long Can You Store An Unused Car Battery?

It’s not a good idea to store your car battery for very long periods of time. Even if you disconnect it and put it in a cool dry place, you should use it at least once every six months or less. If you don’t use your battery regularly, the lead inside of it will start to corrode and this will damage your battery.

Also, if you keep your car battery on a charger too long while disconnecting it, the lead inside of the battery will start to expand and contract which can also damage the lead plates inside of it.

Is It Better To Store Batteries Empty Or Full?

The most important things to consider when storing your battery are temperature and humidity. If you store your battery in a cool dry place, it will last longer than if it is stored at high temperatures or in high humidity. It’s also better to store a full battery than an empty one.

When you store a full battery, the lead inside of it has less of a chance of corroding because there is no room for the acid to expand. If you have an empty battery, the acid has more room to expand which can cause damage to the lead plates inside of it.

Car battery icons from charging to low to full illustration

Can You Keep Batteries In A Cold Garage?

You can keep your car battery in a cold garage. Cold temperatures are good for batteries because they keep the lead plates inside of them from expanding and contracting and this will help prevent corrosion.

If you store your battery in a garage that is not very cold, make sure that it doesn’t get too hot either. Make sure to take your car battery out of the garage when it gets too hot. If you don’t, the lead plates inside of it could expand too much and this could damage them.

Can I Store My Car Battery On A Shelf?

It is best to store your battery in a cool dry place. You can put your car battery on a shelf or somewhere else, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot or cold either because this can damage the lead plates inside of it.

If you have nowhere to put your battery, just keep an eye on how much acid is left in it. If you start to lose your battery’s acid, put it on a shelf or somewhere safe where it won’t be too hot and won’t get too cold either.

Brand new car batteries being stored on a shelf inside a building

Can You Put Your Car Battery In The Freezer?

You can put your car battery in the freezer. Cold temperatures are good for batteries because they keep the lead plates inside of them from expanding and contracting and this will help prevent corrosion.

If you store your battery in a freezer that is not very cold, make sure that it doesn’t get too hot either. Make sure to take your car battery out of the freezer when it gets too hot. If you don’t, the lead plates inside of it could expand too much and this could damage them.

Conclusion

You now know how to take care of a car battery. There are many types of car batteries, but you can always find one that is compatible with your vehicle. If you have any questions about how to take care of your battery, feel free to ask a mechanic or check out their website.

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References:

Fleet Maintenance

How to properly store a vehicle battery

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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