Car Battery when low mileage

I own a 2016 Volvo S60 that gets driven every day but not for very long. I drive it locally every day for about 2,000 miles per year. I have lots of battery issues … “low battery” light, and had to jump start a couple times in the winter. I had the car in for servicing and they told me the troubles are due to my driving such few miles. They said that I need to drive the car for longer when I take it out. My wife has a 2013 XC60 and she drives less than me, doesn’t drive it every day, and she doesn’t have these problems. Do I really need to drive around aimlessly to prevent battery issues?

Yes. Or get a battery tender or trickle charger



2000 miles a year (!) is not enough driving to keep the battery charged and in good shape. At least not on it’s own.

You can either drive the car more often, or get a battery/trickle charger to keep the battery topped off when you aren’t driving it.

Or, plan to buy a new battery every other year or so. If it’s the original battery from 2016, you probably could use a new one anyway.


Yes, physics is against you. Either your wife has a better alternator, a better battery, or maybe lies about how much driving she does.


If you don’t park near an outlet for a tender you can get a solar panel to sit on the dashboard.
A 10 watt unit works well for me.
You can plug it into the 12V power port, what used to be the cigarette lighter socket, if it stays on when the car is turned off.
You can also get a plug to go into the OBD port on bottom of the dash.

1 Like

Here’s what Lexus has to say, for what it’s worth:

Ask your shop to make sure the “everything off” drain current on the battery is within spec. This is usually spec’d as no more than 50 mA. This test is usually done by parking it, close all the doors and windows, everything turned off, key removed, then let it sit for a couple hours before making the measurement.

1 Like

Thanks for the help. So, I bought myself a Noco Genius5. I’m thinking every Sunday (once a week) I’ll just recharge the battery to full. That would address my issues?

If you still have the OEM battery then it’s likely 5 or 6 years old by now. It’s probably doesn’t have the capacity it used to and could be on the way out. I usually get about 6 years out of a battery.


Or just leave the Noco Genius5 connected to the car whenever it is parked vs charging only on Sundays. Those devices are designed so they will not overcharge the battery.

1> I just had the car in for servicing (as per original question). They said that the battery is fine, it is just my driving mileage that was the problem. The battery is exactly 2 years old.

2> Plugging in the Genius5 is a bit of a hassle … sliding the extension cord under my wife’s car etc. So easier to charge once a week than leave plugged in all the time. She’d have to drive over the cord and it could be a tripping problem in the garage.

Thanks, I’m hoping for no more issues.

Did your service team have any advice about maintaining a vehicle that typically only is used for shirt trips? It is supposed to be detrimental to the vehicle.

If you have a garage door opener, there should be a double electrical outlet in the ceiling.

Then you hang one of these near the outlet.



In my opinion, it would be pretty ridiculous for a spouse to lie about the amount of driving they do

What would be the point of it?

From my observations, the same trip involves twice as much operating time even if they drive twice as fast.
There is 10 minutes of driving around the parking lot to select the best spot, then idling for 15 minutes while talking on the phone.


Once a month would do it.
I used to recharge every 3 months a car driven 1-2 short trips a week.
That battery was okay after 9 years. Just didn’t trust it for a 10th winter.

I did as circuitsmith suggested some time ago.


I got another year out of the battery, I suspect the several times it went dead took its toll.
PS thanks again circuitsmith!

1 Like

I’ve since learned there’s an easier way to connect the solar panel: through the OBD port.

1 Like

good to know!