Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Car's Battery Goes Dead

Q: Our 1999 Ford Taurus, which resides under a cover, almost always has a dead battery after it sits for a month. I have had to replace it three times in the past seven years. I tried one of those solar panels plugged into the cigarette lighter by having a clear plastic window installed in the cover. The plastic housing on the charger actually melted when the heat outside got to 118 F and shorted, further draining the battery. Who knows what the temperature got to inside the car? Sure, I can disconnect and reconnect the battery, but for what that takes I can jump-start it with a portable jump-start battery device easier. Any advice to keep the battery from dying? The car’s parked in a lot across the street from the house, so running an extension cord to a trickle charger isn’t an option.

A: Melted the solar charger? Man, I bet you could bake cookies in there on a sunny day.

Letting any battery discharge that deeply will damage it immediately, which explains your high failure rate. And the heat will make the battery self-discharge even faster than normal.

My best suggestion: Get a battery disconnect switch, wired into the ground cable. This won’t prevent normal self-discharging, but it will eliminate any parasitic drains (like the radio presets and computer memory) that are killing the battery between uses. Then whenever you need the car, all you have to do is open the hood, turn the switch on, and start it up and drive away with clean hands. A decent battery should have enough juice left after a month to light the fires. In case the idle period is a little longer, keep an auxiliary starter box in the house on a charger. You can probably get enough charge into the nearly dead battery by plugging one of these gadgets into the cigarette lighter, also leaving you with clean hands.

A second suggestion would be to hard-mount the solar charger on the front license-plate bracket and leave it uncovered by your car cover. Park the car pointing southwest toward the afternoon sun to catch the most rays.


Post a Comment