How Long Can a Car Sit and Still Start?

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Have you ever gone on vacation or elsewhere for several weeks and come back only to find yourself stressed that the car cannot start because the battery is dead or drained?

If you have or are planning to then you’ll find it worthwhile to invest in learning how you can avoid a repeat of the situation or prevent it to save time and possible costs of a replacement battery.

Beyond failing to start, a car that is parked for several months can develop other complications that may require that it is serviced including oil changes, new filters, and others.

So knowing how to prepare the car depending on how long you plan to keep it parked is a worthwhile investment.

So in this post, I’ll share some tips on what preparations you can do so that your car starts easily when parked for a long time, and the dangers it faces so that you are better prepared each time.

Quick answer. If your car has a charged battery in good condition then your car should be able easily even after 1 – 3 weeks of sitting parked.

If the battery is aging or partially charged then the car will struggle to start or not start at all. Read on for ideas to consider so that your car is able to start even when parked for a long time.

What Dangers a Car Faces when Parked for a Long Time?

Depending on how long the car is parked, it is likely to be exposed to some risks more than others.

Common Dangers Faced by A Car Parked for Up to a Month

The battery is drained flat. Car batteries gradually lose charge over time (self-charge) albeit slowly.

Beyond that, onboard electronics such as the car alarm, clock, car computer, and sensors add to the drain and can leave the car without enough power to start depending on the condition of the battery, state of charge, and duration for which it is not driven.

Battery post and terminal corrosion. If the car is parked for a long time and the battery posts and not terminals are not protected with dielectric grease then you can have a case of corrosion – the bluish yellow powdery substance forming around the battery posts.

The corrosion creates a high resistance path and starves the car of the required current level to start the car.

Common Dangers Faced by parked for Several months

Oil can go bad. If the car oil has not been changed for a long time then it can gel up and not flow freely to lubricate the car engine parts damaging the engine.

You should have your car serviced by a qualified mechanic first if it has been parked for several months or years or whenever in doubt about the condition of the oil.

Tips to park your car and still get it to Start Easily

A few weeks up to a month

Battery tender

If you plan to park your car for a couple of weeks to a month, then it is advisable that you connect the car’s battery to a battery tender.

It is a trickle charger with automatic shutoff that keeps your car’s battery topped up against self-discharge or battery drain from the car’s electronics.

Disconnecting the battery terminals using a battery disconnect can also stop the current drawn from the car’s electrical systems conveniently but does not stop the battery from self-discharging.

Starting the car and driving every 2 weeks or so for about 15 minutes or until the engine has warmed up helps top up the battery charge and to dry out whatever moisture may have built up in the engine

If you plan to park the car for several months then in addition to connecting a battery tender, consider

#1. Changing and topping up the oil.

#2. Adding an additive such as stabil can keep the car’s fuel fresh for up to 2 years for example.

This is particularly useful if you are not sure when you are likely to use it.

#3. Top up your car tires’ air pressure.

Related Questions:

Is starting the engine and running for a few minutes good for the battery?

Much as this is often suggested, it is not a good idea according to feedback from several auto mechanics.

For one, idling the car will probably not provide enough charge to keep the battery topped up considering the battery drain and the high current draw at startup.

Secondly, the engine does not warm up enough, an issue in winter conditions and allows the moisture to build up in the engine which is bad for its performance.

Final Thoughts

if you plan to park your car for under a week and your car battery is still in a good condition then you should be able to start the car without any challenges.

If you plan to let your car sit still for longer, consider buying and connecting a battery tender to the car’s battery to prevent the battery from being drained flat.

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