How Long Can a Car Battery Sit Unused?

unused car battery

Whether you purchased a spare battery or you’re planning on storing your vehicle for the winter, it’s important to practice proper battery care. Find out how long your battery can last unused and what you can do to improve the lifespan of your car battery. If you have a dead battery after months of storage, use a VIN lookup tool to find the necessary replacement battery or battery charger tool for your make and model of vehicle.

There are many factors that can affect the lifetime of an unused battery. In most situations, you shouldn’t let a battery sit longer than a few weeks. The average lifetime of an unused battery is between four weeks and two months. Any more and your battery may be permanently damaged and need to be recycled, or simply discharged and need to be recharged before use.

Do the Seasons Affect Your Battery?

While the seasons don’t specifically affect your car battery, temperature changes do. Extreme heat or extreme cold weather can reduce the lifespan of your battery. Extreme heat in the summer can accelerate the chemical operation of your battery, while extreme cold can reduce its charge. The ideal storage temperature is around 59 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature, and the range around it, prevents the effects of both high and low temperatures on your battery.

Long-term storage of a battery in freezing temperatures can cause it to lose as much as 60% of its charge. Thankfully, there are a number of devices that can improve the lifespan of your battery and protect it from the worse effects of extreme weather.

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A battery heater is a good investment in extremely cold environments. This small heating pad typically sits under your battery and can be connected to a regular 110-volt outlet in your garage or outside your home. This keeps your battery above freezing to prevent a major loss of charge.

A battery tender, also called a battery maintainer or a trickle charger, is a great investment for long-term battery storage. These devices connect to your battery terminals and give them a slow charge to keep them fully charged. Be sure you choose a charger designed for long-term use. Follow all the manufacturer’s directions for connecting and operating your battery tender device to avoid damaging your battery or the risk of an electrical fire.

How To Know if Your Battery Is Good After Months of Being Unused?

All of these steps are preventative maintenance, so if you’ve already left a battery unused for months you need a way to check if it’s still in good condition. Connecting an unused battery to your vehicle can be dangerous, as a battery that’s been in long-term storage may have a cracked case or other damage.


Instead, use a multimeter to test the battery. If you don’t have this handy device, bring your battery to your local auto parts store. You can enjoy a free multimeter test, battery charger for car and an affordable replacement battery if your improperly stored battery is permanently damaged. Ask about other tips and tricks to safely store a spare battery or a vehicle for months at a time to enjoy safe, convenient storage.

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