Short trips bad for battery?

Is it harmful to a car battery to make frequent short trips? I live close to work, grocery store, bank, etc, and make a number of short trips in my Voyager van on a typical day. My “60 month” batteries tend to last about 2 years before needing replacement (I live in Texas w/ hot days and much use of air conditioner)

Also, how long a drive does it take to recharge a battery from the power needed to start the engine?


Bill Celaya

San Antonio, TX

Regardless of the effect on your car’s battery, you should not change your driving habits merely to pamper a stupid battery. If your work requires numerous small trips, that’s what you must continue to do.

A final trip home of maybe 20-30 minutes will be quite ample to recharge your battery for the next day. Even a 2-minute drive should give you enough juice to start next morning, but your battery will be in a chronically low state of charge.

You might be a good candidate for a solar charger. Just plug it in to your lighter when the van is not running. It will help maintain a high charge throughout the day, and might prolong the life of the battery.

why worry whether the battery will be charged in the morning?..just go to walmart and get a new one…over two-three years a battery will end up costing about a dollar/month. cheap peace of mind.

It does not take long for the charging system to replace the power used to start a car, maybe a couple of minutes.

However you should consider the wear on the car. Short trips are hard on a car. I can’t put a specific cost on it, but it is going to be more than the cost related to the battery.

Don't over do all this however.  Remember you own a car to provide transportation not to save you money.  If you need to drive short trips, do so.  It will raise the net cost of driving, but not all that much.

OK I hit save too soon.

You short life on batteries is more likely due to the heat, poor quality batteries, or I suspect maybe over charging the battery. Have the charging system checked out. Overcharging and high heat is a ccombination designed to kill a battery.

“You might be a good candidate for a solar charger. Just plug it in to your lighter when the van is not running.”

While this is a good idea, if the solar charger is of the type that plugs into the cigarette lighter, be sure to first check whether there is power to the lighter when the ignition is turned off. If there is no power to the ligher socket when the ignition is off, then a solar charger plugged into that socket cannot charge the battery.