To Maintain Battery Charge, Run or Drive Car?

To maintain a car battery’s charge, especially in winter, is it enough to run the car for a while (30 minutes or so) every week or does it have to be driven? Thanks!

For the battery itself, it is best to put it on a trickle charger or remove the terminals completely, depending on how long the car will remain unused.

It is better for the rest of the car to be driven periodically and brought up to full operating temperature and highway speed. You also will want to treat the fuel tank and fuel system with a stabilizer so that the fuel does not separate.

My 79 Chevy pickup makes, at best, an annual trip to home depot and is now parked for the winter with a load of 400+ romance novels.

Staybil fuel stabilizer in both tanks.
Solar trickle charger laying on the dash, plugged into the lighter. ( battery tender for inside parking )
Vinyl tire covers to protect against UV rot.
Fabric vehicle cover.

Thanksgiving week I had to move it to make room for Dad’s car…
vrooom, started right up, give or take some carburetor coaxing, the battery stayed strong.


Transmission leak is diagnosed to be fault of NOT driving and warming up everything else.

Thank you, mleich and ken green. A related question: I don’t plan to let the car sit unused all winter, but how often need I drive it? Every week? If I go away for about 2 weeks, will the car start when I get back? We just had a brand new Mopar battery put in.


I think you’ll be good for only two weeks away. My car sits that long at the airport sometimes.
Once a month should do for a rarely used vehicle.
Driving is better than idling for trans, seals, bearings etc.

Two weeks should be no problem if the battery is good. You only need to drive it every few weeks to keep the battery charged, but you should drive it 20-30 minutes.

Just running the engine is not a good idea. Better to let it sit than to start it and let it idle.