How much driving is necessary to keep battery charged in cold weather

Since we got a new Ford Escape, we’ve neglected using our old Dodge Caravan and the battery went completely flat. How much driving is necessary to keep that from happening again?

In the summer when I pull my MR2 out of hibernation, I drive it at least once a week to and from work even if the weather is lousy and I’d rather be in the daily driver. That keeps it pretty happy. Depending on the distance to your job, the same would probably work fine for you in the winter.

Your other option would be to get a trickle charger and hook it up to the van’s battery. Then you only really need to drive it every month or so for a decently long trip (long enough to fully heat up, and then at least 10 more minutes) to keep it happy.

If you drove it every couple of weeks for about a half hour you should be OK, assuming the battery and the alternator are good.

Or you could buy a Battery Tender and keep the battery fully charged all the time.

I don’t know about the Caravan, but my car has a feature called an “extended storage switch” located in the fuse box. If the car won’t be in use for a long period, using this switch will cut power to the radio’s clock and memory presets to prevent battery drainage.

In VERY cold weather (sub-zero) it may be necessary to start it every day until it warms up some. That or get a battery tender like someone else mentioned.

I have a similar situation with a couple of cars. In one or two months if not run the battery will be too low on juice to start the car.

I find if I run a few errands with these cars once a week then all is fine. If you don’t want to use the Caravan that much consider a battery tender type charger. You hook up the charger to the battery during extended periods of non use. I also have a “jumper” battery pack that I use if I forget and a battery has gone too low on me.

It seems the electronics in the cars of today drain the battery some while the cars sit for a while. I carry my jumper pak with me if I leave the car in an airport lot while on vacation just in case.

My guess is once a week depending on a few things. Im in -30 -40 -50 degrees and dont drive for 2-3 days at a time and never have battery problems

n VERY cold weather (sub-zero) it may be necessary to start it every day until it warms up some.


Repeatedly warming up an engine halfway is a good way to muck up the oil with condensation.
A battery tender also doesn’t waste gas.

Never turn off a cold engine

I should have said until the WEATHER warms up some. Trying to start a car that’s been sitting for a week or two in sub zero weather without being started can be a real challenge was my point. Therefore the battery tender that I mentioned would be a better idea.

If you don’t put many miles on the Caravan, you might qualify for cheaper insurance, so ask your agent about that.

Weekly or bi-weekly so do just fine. I had a car that would sit for a month or so before I’d start it and it was still ok. If you just put a trickle charger on it and plug it in once in a while, you don’t have to run it all.