Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Battery charging

My girlfriend does not drive much - 1,100 miles in 2012. Most of that is driving to and from work. She works a mile from home. So her driving consists primarily of starting the car, driving a mile and parking it. Once a month or so, I connect a charger to her battery to fully recharge it since she does not drive enough to give it a full charge. Is this a good idea or should I let nature take its course?

I would say the biggest concern is she is not running it long enough to fully warm up the engine to get the catalytic converter working. Overtime this could ruin the catalytic converter. The better option maybe to once a week take it for 1/2 drive preferable on a highway.

This type of usage is tough on a car, as things never get fully warmed up. I hope she’s been using the severe maintenance schedule instead of the regular one.

I too would suggest a long drive rather than a battery charger. A battery charger is better than letting the battery go dead, but a drive helps the engine and exhaust system as well as the battery.
And I commend you for being so supportive.

The best thing for her and her car would be to walk to work.

Your girlfriend’s driving style is called the “aunt Minnie pattern” by major oil companies. As mentioned it is the worst possible treatment you can give and engine and an exhaust sytem.

A car driven this way for 8 years or so will be completely gummed up inside and will have oil circulation problems.

My late mother-in-law drove about 2000 miles a year in her Chevy Cavalier. Whenever we visited we would take the car out for a 1/2 hour drive on the freeway, to blow out the “cobwebs”.

So, in addition to the charger, please take her for a spin in her car on a regular basis.

The battery will probably have a short life due to this but my main concern would be oil sludging as this type of use is extremely conducive to that kind of problem.

Take it out on the road somewhere for a 30 mile round trip at least.

She sounds like the perfect candidate for a Nissan Leaf…

There’s no harm in connecting the battery up to a charger once in a while. It probably extends the life of the battery somewhat. Batteries can “sulphate” if they aren’t fully charged, and this isn’t good for the battery life. There are trickle chargers for this purpose too, used on more frequent basis.