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Do I drive enough?

Yesterday morning, while I was driving, my radio and air conditioning went dead. When I got to my destination, the car wouldn’t start. The guy at the repair shop told me today that the problem is that I don’t drive enough to keep the battery charged. He said he can’t find anything wrong with the car. It is true that I don’t drive often or for long distances, but this doesn’t make complete sense to me. Any comments?

How much do you drive?

I probably average 6,000 miles a year - almost all of it short distance.

Well if you are driving less than one mile a month, I would say he was right, if you are driving a few thousand miles a month, he was wrong.

Let’s get more information. Make model and year car? How much do you drive it a month? Is that one trip or spread out over at least three or four days a week? Do only use a few times a year?

Potentially the battery or alternator could be bad.

There is something wrong as typically a low charge battery has enough energy along with alternator to keep the major systems working.

My car is a 1994 Nissan Sentra. I drive around 500 miles a month, and my driving is spread pretty evenly month to month. Monday through Friday, I drive two miles one way to the train station. On some weekdays, I drive a few more miles. I do hardly any driving on weekends. I almost never drive very long at any one time.

yeah, if it died while driving, this is suspicious

I agree with the others, your mechanic is wrong, the ac and radio wouldn’t have died while you were driving unless something was wrong with the charging system (battery, alternator, or connections/cables).

No. Two miles each way per day is not enough to keep the battery charged. I suggest, rather than drive more, that you purchase a “Battery Tender” and hook it up to your battery once every couple of weeks. An overnight hook-up will probably be sufficient.

The Battery Tender will keep your car’s battery fully charged but will not overcharge it like a standard battery charger can.

A Battery Tender is not expensive. Maybe $35-40. I use one for my car that doesn’t get driven in winter. It works great.

All of this assumes, of course, that you have a garage or an electrical outlet near where you park your car.

If you can’t use a Battery Tender, the other option is to take the car for a 20-30 minute drive every two or three weeks. Some highway travel would help.

It’s not just the battery. Short trips such as yours are the hardest life a car will ever know. Two miles is not enough to fully warm up the engine, drive train, and exhaust system.

Cheap fix: drive at least a half hour on the highway every weekend to a destination, then drive back. Maybe there’s a park you could visit and take a nice walk, then drive home. If the charging issues go away, you know it’s not the charging system. Then you could consider the trickle charger. I’d just drive the car more o the weekend or a weekday night since the trickle charger needs to be hooked up and unhooked between drive times.

Something is not working right. It is likely that the problem is your alternator, voltage regulator or battery. Two miles is plenty to recharge the battery with a correctly working system. My dad drove three blocks to work every day in a car equipped with a generator that did not charge at engine idle and his battery did not go flat. Alternators are so much better; last far longer and charge at engine idle.

I used to drive 1 mile each way to work in Buffalo NY. That car had no computers or electric fuel pump so the battery was ok but I had to replace the whole exhaust yearly and change oil every 2 month because it would get a quart overfull with unburned gas.

Mcparadise; we have that exact same car, a 1994 Nissan Sentra which is only on its second battery (Costco’s best) and the mileage driven per year is about 4500. My wife drives many short trips and a few longer ones, such as 15 miles or more per month.

We have not had any problem with the battery, summer or winter. We did replace the alternator a few years back.

I suspect OP has a drain somewhere, or needs a new alternator!!! OP should have the charging system checked out.

We also have a battery tender and trickle charger, but don’t need them.