Tips For Avoiding Silent Battery Drains

By AMA Staff

While in winter we mainly think of the cold as the biggest culprit for car battery problems, there are other things you need to keep an eye on to keep your power charged.

That’s partly because modern vehicles offer drivers a wide array of onboard accessories and entertainment, from multimedia players and Bluetooth connectivity to backup cameras, GPS navigation, and heated seats. While these bells and whistles elevate the driving experience, they also draw power from the battery, even when the engine isn’t running, create a parasitic drain.

Don’t Fall for These 7 Silent Battery Drains:

1. Headlights Left On
While many modern vehicles automatically turn the headlights off after turning off the ignition, some cars still don’t have this helpful feature. As a result, a fully charged battery can be completely drained of power in just one to two hours if the lights are left on when the engine is powered down.

2. Interior Lights Left On
When an interior light is left on after the engine is turned off, the battery is slowly drained of power. This frequently happens when a door is not fully closed, the glove box or vanity mirror is left open, the trunk is not completely shut, or the reading lights were not turned off just before exiting the vehicle.

3. Accessory Socket Plug-Ins
The accessory socket (i.e., cigarette lighter) is a handy spot to plug in phone chargers, radar detectors, air fresheners, dash cams, and other gadgets. The 12-volt outlet is powered by the car battery, even when the ignition is off. If an accessory remains plugged in with the engine off, it continues to draw current from the battery, gradually depleting its ability to start your car.

4. Key Fob
Modern vehicles are opened with the click of a button using a key fob. Some cars even detect when the fob is near, allowing the driver to simply touch the handle to open the door. When the key fob is close by, a receiver inside the vehicle wakes up to wait for instructions (e.g., lock or unlock the car, start the engine, open the trunk, etc.). If you leave the fob within 15 feet of your vehicle, the receiver remains engaged as it waits for your command, slowly discharging the battery.

6. Corrosion 
Have you ever seen a powdery white, blue, or green substance on your battery terminals? Batteries contain a combination of chemicals that work to power your battery. When the gas or liquid from these chemicals come in contact with the metal battery posts, a reaction creates powdery corrosion. This build-up of chemical waste can drain the power out of your battery and shorten its life, so it’s important to remove it as soon as you see it.

7. Aftermarket Car Stereos  
Car stereos installed by the automaker typically will not drain your battery; however, if you have an aftermarket stereo system, the larger and more powerful the system, the greater the potential for battery drain. Sometimes, aftermarket stereos are installed in a way that the wiring causes the system to continue to draw power even when the car is not in use, resulting in a dead battery.

8. Car Alarms 
Like stereos, car alarms installed by the automakers generally don’t cause trouble, but aftermarket car alarms are a different story. If installed incorrectly, they can cause a significant drain on your battery.

Car batteries have a three-to-five-year lifespan when driven under normal circumstances. However, if your battery is reaching the end of its lifespan, or has died unexpectedly, AMA is here to help 24/7. Call us at 1-800-222-4357 or book online to have a trained Battery Service Technician come to your home, office, or location of your choice to get you back on your way.