Do you notice that the car’s battery runs flat as the car sits idle for extended periods? You are not the only person to suffer from this issue. You may have heard that you can charge the battery by idling your car. Therefore, you may be questioning whether that would work. So, does idling a car charge the battery? You’ll learn it in a minute.
If the car is idling, will it charge the battery?
The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. However, a quick and simple response would be like that: Yes, the battery will start to charge at idle. However, only until the engine is running. So technically, you can bring the car battery to full charge with this method, but only if it doesn’t discharge faster than the alternator charges it.
To put it simply, yes. Most vehicles will charge the battery. Yet, be careful of placing large electrical loads on the car at idle. Otherwise, you may fully drain the battery instead of restoring its charge.
Why car idling may not work for recharging the vehicle’s battery
While idling some vehicles for 15-20 minutes would be an excellent solution for recharging the battery, this method may not work for newer models. Many modern cars feature sophisticated battery management systems. Their main point is to extend the battery life. However, that technology may keep the vehicle away from charging the battery at low RPMs. Therefore, the battery may get minimal charge unless you don’t move at higher speeds.
Also, as mentioned above, sometimes idling is not enough because of high power consumption. The thing is that when idling, the vehicle does not produce the maximum current it can. So, when you pull out a lot of power from the battery, like using electronics, high-power car audio amplifiers, and other power-demanding devices, the alternator may not be apt to recharge the battery.
How long should you idle to fully charge the battery?
Car idling is not the most efficient way to restore the capacity of your battery. 15-30 minutes may be enough for older car models to recoup the initial charge, but not the full one. As a result, it may take long hours before you come close to a full charge. Using a jump starter can be a more effective way to crank the engine and involve an alternator in charging.
What is an alternator, and how does it help charge the battery?
An alternator is a vehicle component that turns mechanical energy into electricity. In simple words, when the engine is on, it runs the alternator, which, in its turn, uses the rotation of the belt to produce electricity. The AC is then turned into DC (used for keeping the car battery charged). As long as the engine is running, the process will go on. In addition, the alternator powers other cars’ electronic components, like power windows, heated seats, headlights, dashboard instruments, and more, while you are driving or idling.
How to prolong the lifespan of your car’s battery
Usually, the battery lasts 3 to 5 years, depending on the use and other conditions like weather or temperature. But you can prolong the duration of its operation if you stick with these recommendations:
- Keep your vehicle away from extreme temperatures, either too high or too low.
- Test the battery with a professional at least twice a year.
- Make sure the top of the battery is clean.
- Turn off all the lights, stereo, and other electronic devices when you park your vehicle.
- Take your car out for a drive from time to time.
Follow these simple tips, and you will prolong the life of your car’s battery, and most importantly, it will always be ready to work.