New cars, dead batteries


My wife has a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country that cannot sit for more than a few days without needing a jumpstart. She doesn’t need to drive it much -it’s only got 3700 miles on it - so this happens often. It’s been back to the dealer three times and their last statement was that new cars have modules that run automatically even when the car is off. Their solution is for her to go start her car and let it idle for an hour and a half or so to charge the battery. This sounds like a load of hooey to me. So if we leave her car at the aiport and go out of town for a week, we just need to plan to call for service as soon as we get back? We’re going to contact Chrysler, as if that will help, but would appreciate any input anyone might have.


Yes, DO contact the Chrysler zone rep. S/he may send you to a dealership which can fix your car. It is still in warranty, isn’t it? The LEMON LAW may apply. The drain on the battery, by the various components “staying alive”, is very small. Your car has a problem above and beyond acceptable drain levels ----- AND, there are techniques to find and fix it. ++++ me_art12


They are partly right, but a few days is far too short a time. It should reliably last a few weeks before there is a problem. Don’t park it for a month and expect it to function. Also don’t drive it once a week two blocks to church and back and expect it to keep working.


I agree, it should take several weeks to run down. It could be a defective battery, did the dealer check out that possibility?


Let me add also, look around the vehicle at night, you might see a light on that should not be. The light in the glove box of our Honda used to stay on all the time, but it didn’t run the battery down in a couple of days.


It sounds like an alternator problem to me.


It may be possible that there is nothing wrong with the vehicle. There is normally a small drain on the battery to keep the electronics marginally powered. The drain is small enough that it should take many weeks to deplete the battery enough to cause starting problems. In addition, every time you start the engine, a significant amount of energy is used. Any energy taken from the battery must be replaced.

Infrequent use and short trips is the worst combination but not the only one that can result in an energy deficit at the battery.

Lead-acid batteries perform best when they are kept in a charged state. If allowed to sit partially discharged, they sulfate and gradually lose capacity. This is a double-edged sword since the battery is not only falling behind in replacement energy but is also losing capacity at the same time.

If this is the scenario for the OP, then it may require a change in usage habits or some other means for keeping the battery charge up- perhaps a solar maintainer would work in their area.

First, any competent electronics technician should be able to verify that the constant drain on the system is within normal specifications. There is always a possibility that an intermittant problem exists where a periodic large drain occurs and that could be investigated as well. The next thing is to make sure your battery isn’t on its last legs by performing a load test to verify its capacity is still good.


I had a PT Cruiser that did the same thing. They would replace different things (batteries 3 times, radio once (claimed it had a parasitic draw)), but anytime it was left for a couple days, it wouldn’t start. After many conversations with Chrysler and their refusal to help, I had it lemon lawed. Didn’t hate the car, hated being able to predict when I was calling for the tow next.



When your wife does drive the car, how far does she go? It is possible that her trips aren’t long enough to recharge the battery after starting and that’s the real source of the problem. 3700 miles in a year would indicate lots of very short trips.

Post back please.

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